Do you need to learn how to turn OFF?
Take steps towards a Digital Detox
You may not appreciate how attached you’ve become to your smart device. While reading this article, are you aching for a ‘quick fix’ to read email, check social media updates, or look for breaking news from today’s headlines? If the answer is yes, your need for rapid response now has a real and calculable impact on your productivity, well-being and ultimately your personal and professional relationships.
Excessive digital connecting can deprive your brain of needed down time. With rapid access to information, technology can take the smallest windows of time and turn it into a source of entertainment.
If you are willing to take baby steps to regain balance between your digital world and the real world, read on…
1. If you keep your smart device in your hand rather than in your briefcase or purse, you likely suffer from smart device separation anxiety. If you jump with anticipation at that ping sound of a new message, you need to consider disconnecting for a while. There is a simple solution. Know that it’s okay to step away from technology. Establish a set time every day to turn off technology and turn on reality. Try learning a new language, play an instrument or just get active. Exercise increases blood flow and accelerates the transport of vital nutrients to the brain.
2. Life is passing you by when you remain focused on seeing the world through a restricted field of vision. If you process experiences through the lens of your mobile device rather than being in the moment, you have lost touch with reality. Think about becoming an observer again. Watch people in their element. A restaurant, an airport, the park…do they looked stressed out, engrossed in technology, sucked into the digital world? How do you think YOU must look to them? If you don’t like what you see, you can change your habits.
3. Your memory seems to be fading. You forget telephone numbers that you call every day. If Siri or Cortana have your best source of information, you don’t have memory lapse…you have laziness. If you are easily distracted in ways that hinder you from truly retaining or recalling information, try this simple solution: go back to retrieving information organically. Practice remembering, spelling, giving directions, writing things down. The brain needs exercise just like the rest of your body. Read a book instead of your tablet: complete reading rather than rapid scanning has been shown to improve memory retention. Experts contend that we ‘use it or lose it’. Information learned while partially distracted is often quickly forgotten, so the learning is tragically shallow. The internet encourages rapid, distracted samplings of small bits of information from numerous sources.
4. You find yourself having trouble NOT walking into things. Digital distraction has been the cause of falls, automobile crashes, and countless embarrassing moments that involve water fountains, telephone poles and small dogs. We don’t take the time we need to think through a situation. All too often, that ping pulls our thoughts in another direction, never to complete the task at hand. Finish what you started by switching off digital and turning on focus.
5. You’re trying to do everything at once, but nothing seems to be getting done. You blame your stress on hectic lifestyles that prevent concentration information retention. Your therapist suggests ADHD. You instantly think the worst, perhaps the start of Alzheimer’s or Dementia. But really, you are just overwhelmed with trying to get too much done in too little time. Could it be that you’re just not focusing on any one thing? YEP!!! Instead of doing a lot of things badly, try doing just one thing well.
Can overuse of technology hinder the balanced development of the brain? No one can be completely certain…but it does raise some questions. Are young people who’ve been raised in a digital age showing signs of short term memory dysfunction? According to a blog post from November 2013 on the Alzheimer’s web site, it focused on statistics from a study done in Seoul, Korea. It stated that more people in that country are connected to digital devices than anywhere in the world. In addition, a US study conducted at UCLA revealed some alarming information about the developing brains of young people. It claims that young people are spending upwards of 7 hours a day attached to their iPads, smartphones, computers and gaming consoles. And the effects to their brains are proving to be damaging.
Technology has truly exceeded our imagination. Photoshopped or filtered Instagram pictures have become a new reality. Digital experiences overwhelm our senses, while real time information sharing is premium. But so are real people, real conversations. Take a break. Call a relative, or better yet, actually buy a CARD and WRITE on it. Ah, the lost art of a handwritten note: receipt of it will astound the recipient. Go smell the roses, whether real or proverbial, just not the ones on the internet. Walk the halls of your office building for a scenery change. Stroll the sidewalks, make eye contact with folks that pass you by, and share a smile. Better still, make plans to visit with a real live person and TALK to them. Having a REAL friend is so much more fulfilling than the imaginary ‘friend’ you chat/text/Facebook/Linkedin/Instagram/tweet or blog on the worldwide web.
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