201912.26
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DISCONNECT TO RECONNECT

Technology is incredible and the benefits are huge in so many aspects of everyday life. In our previous issue we already discussed the impacts of digital overload on our physical, mental & emotional health in the article on “Screen Time Vs Real Time”.

Ask yourself a few quick questions: Have you ever felt mentally exhausted? Or, do you find yourself being unable to pay attention, making simple mistakes or forgetting things?

These are signs of digital overload. Significant research shows that excessive digital stimulation can decrease the ability to concentrate, increase stress and anxiety, reduce productivity, disrupt sleep/ wake cycle (circadian rhythms) & is bad for your relationships & self- esteem. When you take a step back and reflect at your daily lifestyle, it can feel like there’s no escaping the screen. However, being able to unplug and have some time away from the screen will leave you re-energised and more in touch with the world around you.

Digital detox refers to a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones, computers, laptops, tablets & even TV. A digital detox is primarily done to avoid being addicted or obsessed or over dependent on the digital devices and instead be mentally relaxed by taking some time to enjoy the physical or real world. This enables maintaining a healthy balance between normal life and the time a person spends using such electronic devices. It is regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress, focus more on social interaction and connection with nature in the physical world. Claimed benefits include increased mindfulness, lowered anxiety, and an overall better appreciation of one’s environment.

Here’s an inspirational quote from author Anne Lamott

Steps on How to do Digital Detox And their Benefits

STEP 1 – REMOVE DISTRACTIONS

HOW TO

Go through your phone and computer settings and turn off all non-essential alerts, notifications including lights, sounds and vibrations. Ask yourself- Do you really need all those alerts? Your brain is hard-wired to respond to every alert. These alerts stimulate dopamine— a neurochemical that is part of the brain’s reward system and is involved in addiction which in turn encourages pleasure-seeking or validation seeking behaviour, that creates an environment for mental distress. Since not being connected 24/7 has practically become a cultural taboo, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is the only reason people feel anxious. Research has shown that utilizing digital devices for avoidance purposes is another important factor of technology-related depression or digital anxiety.

GAINS

Reduce Stress, Anxiety & Depression : We stress about the things we think we need to do rather than focusing on the real necessities. Additionally, there’s a ton of information being served to us at one time and that can get overwhelming. Too much of anything is bad for you & the same goes for technology. A “pause” is important for memory, learning, and to reduce anxiety. You can “slow walk” your detox by taking small steps to limit digital intrusions. When you’re ready for a bigger step, try unplugging for a half or full day.

STEP 2 – DON’T GLAMORIZE BUSYNESS

HOW TO

It seems silly how proud we are of being busy. The explanations of “I’m so busy!” are really just our attempts to avoid making hard choices about how we live our lives. Staying busy is easier than taking time to pursue what would really make us happy. Worse yet, the Internet makes it so easy to be “busy” indefinitely. So be careful not to glamorize busyness. By doing so, you can start to think more clearly about how you are choosing to spend your time.

GAINS

Pursue healthy interests/activities: Making time for hobbies or activities that promote health, personal
growth or connections with others can help to reduce screen use and provide a sense of meaning and purpose. Get creative: reading books, hiking in nature, taking mindful walks, prayer or meditation, joining a club, practicing yoga, volunteering or learning to play an instrument, draw, dance, write, paint, or get creative in the kitchen. Creativity is good as it helps build new connections between neurons and sharpens your brain.

STEP 3 – GET PHYSICALLY ACTIVE & INCORPORATE FITNESS

HOW TO

Get outside daily to walk in nature or do a gym or home workout without being plugged into headphones—instead focus on the physical bodily sensations you experience and the environmental sounds around you. Exercise fights depression, poor focus, insomnia, addiction, and anxiety by raising and balancing the very brain chemicals and hormones that become imbalanced from using electronics. Exercise is good for your brain, your body, and your mental health.

GAINS

Your physical health will improve : If your eyes are glued to the screen, you’re probably sitting or lying
down. A growing obesity problem is partly because of a lifestyle tied to the couch staring at a screen. It’s not only terrible for your lower back, neck and eyes, it’s also bad on your waist line. Unplug, go outside
and get the blood circulating in the body. You’ll be amazed how much better you feel. If it’s unavoidable to use your phone to listen to a playlist while on a run or workout, turn your phone to airplane mode or do not disturb, so there’s no temptation to check it. Although music is a proven way to pump up your effort, stopping mid-interval to answer a text or like an Instagram photo isn’t the most productive way to burn calories.

STEP 4 – PUT AWAY GADGETS DURING MEALS

HOW TO

It’s a common sight at restaurants: a gleaming smartphone next to the bread basket. This means that eating has now become a multi-tasking activity, rather than a social and loving experience. This can prevent people from eating consciously & in turn can promote unhealthy eating habits such as overeating. A digital detox is a great way to promote healthy and conscious eating.

GAINS

Promote healthy eating habits : Mindful eating is the practice of cultivating an open-minded awareness of how the food we choose to eat affects one’s body, feelings, mind, and all that is around us. Use this approach will help you reach a state of full awareness to your experiences, cravings, and physical cues when eating. It shall renew our sense of pleasure, appreciation and gratification with eating & make it satisfying experience. Make mealtimes an occasion for proper family or friend face-to- face interaction time, talking to people will make the virtual world seem more distant and help you focus on what’s real.

STEP 5 – DESIGNATE TECH FREE HOURS

HOW TO

Begin reducing digital overload by taking small breaks away from your smart phone. Set it on silent, put the timer on 15 minutes and place your phone face down. Turn off all computer alerts (including e-mail) and focus on something for 15 minutes. Notice whether you feel any anxiety that you cannot check your phone or emails during the break. Practice this daily. After you successfully complete the 15 minute break without anxiety, begin increasing this up to one hour breaks or more. Let’s be honest – a lot of the time you’re checking your social media channels and scrolling through friend’s travel photos, rather than responding to messages or connecting with others. Taking a break from technology will show just how much time you waste on it!

GAINS

A more content and calmer you : There have been thousands of social experiments where people have taken a break from technology and the participants are almost always surprised to find themselves less stressed because of it. When you’re on your phone or absorbed in your emails, you’re not living in the present. It’s only when you open your eyes to the here and now that you realise how easy it is to miss out on the good things around you.

STEP 6 – MAKE YOUR BEDROOM A NO- TECH ZONE

HOW TO

Your bedroom is the easiest to begin with by just banning technology (such as your phone, tabs, laptops etc.) from entering that space. Most people use their phone for an alarm clock. But when you reach your phone to switch it off, the lure of a screen in a quiet bedroom is hard to resist a Netflix binge or mindlessly scroll through social media. Science has shown that when you look at a screen before bedtime, your brain is tricked into thinking it must remain alert and awake, preventing melatonin from being released which can potentially interfere with your sleep quality. To eliminate the temptation, it’s advisable to keep phones out of the bedroom and reach for a good book or magazines instead.

GAINS

Improve Sleep quality : It’s best if one can leave the phone outside the bedroom at night and instead invest in an alarm clock. No more checking email and social media first thing in the morning or before bedtime. Screen time within an hour of bedtime can negatively impact quality of sleep that contributes to physical, mental and cognitive issues. It is strongly recommended that you give yourself at least two hours of technology free time before bedtime.

STEP 7 – LIMIT TO 1 SCREEN AT A TIME & AVOID MULTI-TASKING

HOW TO

A phone in hand usually means you’ll try to do two (or three or four) things at once. Research on multitasking shows that it causes distraction, reduces productivity and increases errors. Additionally media multitasking also has been linked to lower wellbeing. It takes several minutes to recalibrate our brains back to the original task. Make a habit of only looking at one screen at a time to improve concentration span.

GAINS

You’ll be more productive : Without the gadgets, you automatically put more of your focus on the task at hand. You can’t reach that golden flow state of productivity when you’re constantly distracted (and stressed) by notifications. You find yourself accomplishing more in less time, and in most cases your results are a whole lot better and more satisfying than what you ever tried while multitasking.

STEP 8 – TAKE TECH BREAKS

HOW TO

Once you get comfortable without the gadgets (Step 5), the next experimental step could be to prolong the break period to enhance your wellbeing. After observing your comfort & lessened anxiety, start by designating specific time/ hours each day that’s tech-free. For many people their biggest fear about doing a digital detox is that others won’t be able to reach them. Most emergencies are imagined & by taking tech breaks regularly & removing distractions, we are likely focus on what really matters and make better use of our time.

GAINS

Time to think & Practise Mindfulness : When you aren’t sheltering your attention behind a screen, you might realize you have more free time than you think. A digital detox provides you with time to think about desired changes, recommitments, or to think freely and mindlessly. It can provide you with a genuine opportunity to feel mentally and physically relaxed. Being detached from your device gives you the ability to think through problems and find solutions (without searching Google). A distraction-free opportunity will open your mind and allow you to be more creative. You’ll solidify your ideas and determine ways to implement them.

STEP 9 – SPRING CLEAN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS

HOW TO

Facebook and Instagram help us to connect with people in unprecedented and truly gratifying ways. Despite opportunities for online “connection,” loneliness is at an all-time high. Research shows that the more time we spend on social media, the worse we feel. That’s not surprising, given the fact that we see only a heavily curated version of friends’ and celebrities’ lives, which can be toxic for self-esteem.

GAINS

Connect for REAL – If you’re stuck in cyber world too long, your social connections in real life can take a back seat. Main benefit to keeping all your electronics off is that it will allow you to establish good mannerisms and people skills. Make it a goal to have screen-free, in-person social connections with friends, co-workers and loved ones on a daily basis. Consider making it a standard practise to power down whenever there is an opportunity for conversation during meals or social gatherings. Talking to people will make virtual world seem more distant and help you focus on what’s real.

STEP 10 – TONE DOWN THE BRIGHTNESS LEVELS ON ALL SCREENS

HOW TO

For televisions, choose the “natural” setting and lower the brightness and contrast controls to more closely match the surrounding environment. For computers, laptops, tablets, and phones, download software such as f.lux on all your devices, to warm and darken the screen as it gets later in the day. Convert to black and white – One reason our devices are so alluring is that they’re vibrant. Go retro. Many smartphones now allow you to change the settings so the entire phone appears in gray scale.

GAINS

Rediscover Paper : make a conscious effort to rediscover paper and use it to replace tasks you do on your computer. Examples: to-do lists, goal setting, journaling, reading (go for books), calendar, shopping lists, draft presentations, and plan. Our minds process abstract information more effectively when we jot down our ideas on paper. If you’ve ever noticed that reading a book feels more satisfying than reading a tablet, you’re not imagining things. Not only do books offer fewer distractions, but research suggests that when we read on paper, our minds process abstract information more effectively.

The POSITIVES / MERITS OF Digital Detox can also be experimented with whilst on-board

• Collectively select a time / or day to stay clear from technology/ gadgets.
• No cell phones at work/meetings/ or get together.
Allow people to interact informally with each other.
• Plan more interactive activities. Make use of the gym/ recreation zones/ games on-board.
• Once people have good strong bond as team, the NO SCREEN DAY can be experimented with to minimise the screen exposure time.
• Leaving your smartphone (in the cabins) once in a while could make all the difference in handling the stress this changing world keeps throwing at us. Building Better social rapport for healthy interpersonal relationships
• Revive hobbies, awaken your creative side – photography, artwork, creating the best out of the waste etc., etc..

• Few ships have successfully experimented with NO GADGET during SOCIAL SUNDAYS which allows creating opportunities to build HUMAN CONNECTIONS that enhance Emotional wellness and reduce Digital Dependence.
• ACTIVITY TIME – Practise Reflection and Gratitude – A daily practice in quieting your mind and counting
your blessings can boost positive emotion and improve psychological wellness. Research suggests that gratitude may protect against social comparison and envy—common experiences with social media. Reflect on what is good and right in your life. During quiet, screen-free time, write down five good things from each day. Savour simple pleasures like a sunny day, a good cup of coffee or a friendly exchange with someone.

Food For Thought

• Are we are officially turning in to screen junkies ??
• Clarify Your Values with few quick & simple questions for self-analysis.
• Take time to mindfully consider what you value most in life. What do you want your life to be about? Quality relationships? Physical and emotional health? Spiritual growth? Professional growth? It’s impossible to step away from technology, and it’s not practical to suggest you can’t use it at all. But if it begins to distract you from doing what you should be doing – like your job or your education – or it negatively affects your relationships, or costs you more money than you can afford, then it starts to
become dangerous. If it is negatively impacting your life you need to evaluate what you do online, when,
how much and with whom. If you notice that your screen use is moving you in an unwanted direction, give yourself grace, hit the figurative “re-set” button and get back on track. Digital Detox is truly a personal endeavour. The biggest benefit of a digital detox: It helps you take

more control of your life and your attention so you can focus on what really brings you joy — whatever that may be. So, don’t be afraid to disconnect. It’s good for you.

Recommendations – In your own life, if you can learn to take breaks from technology and share yourself with others, it promises you that your happiness levels will increase tenfold. The ultimate goal of digital detox is to develop a healthier relationship with technology.

WE AREN’T ANTI-TECH. WE’RE PRO HUMANS.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated”. — Confucius

The above article is adapted from different readings, seminars, articles on technology overload in the newspapers & magazines. If you have attempted any of the above tips & have experienced benefits from them, please feel free to write to us and share your experiences at [email protected]

~ Editor’s Desk

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