It’s hard these days to not be plugged into something at all times. We spend more time in front of screens—smartphones, tablets, iPads, laptops, TVs—than ever before. Don’t get me wrong—technology has revolutionized the world. But like any tool, how it’s used completely depends on the user: you.
If you think about all the screens you engage with in your life, do you think you could be addicted? If you’ve ever found yourself unable to stop watching YouTube videos late into the night, or obsessively checking your phone to not miss out on a single tweet, text or Facebook post, you might be at risk (dun dun duuun….). Ask yourself, “Do I have control over my devices or do they have control over me?”
Do you wake up and check your phone before you even use the bathroom in the morning? Do you transition from one screen to other throughout the day—phone to work computer, work computer to TV, TV to laptop…you get the idea.
Hi, my name is Alani and I’m addicted to screens.
I’ll be the first to admit that I can get totally sucked into watching the stupidest string of cat videos, and I’m often unable to log out of Facebook until my eyes begin to close themselves (well past my bedtime of course). It’s as if nothing else exists when I’m in front of a screen, my energy and attention totally sucked into a virtual world. What am I missing? What are you missing? A lot.
If you are constantly hooked into your electronic devices or staring at a screen, you’re missing out on…
1. You’re missing out on connecting with the world around you.
If you’re walking down the street with your head down, texting someone, chances are that you missed that beautiful flower, the grandfather and granddaughter holding hands and laughing together, or that cute stranger that smiled at you. No nature show on TV can give you the experience of the peacefulness and silence in a forest, or the power and energy of a rushing river. No computer game can simulate the exhilarating experience of climbing a mountain, falling in love, or pursuing your wildest dreams.
When you take the time to break away from screens, you create opportunities to connect with the living, breathing, moving world around you. You can feel love and connection with others on an entirely different level than you can via text, email or Skype. You can appreciate the food you eat and help your body digest it better without distractions. Interacting with the physical world around you is a powerful reminder of the interconnectedness of life, and that you are a part of it.
Challenges to try:
#1 – The next time you are walking around, keep your phone in your pocket and challenge yourself to say hello or smile at 2 to 3 people you pass. Notice any effects or feelings that come up.
#2 – Instead of spending your lunch break on the web checking emails, Facebook, etc., go outside and sit down or take a short walk around the block and just witness the world around you.
2. You’re missing out on opportunities to move your body.
Our bodies are made up of over 650 muscles—not just the ones in your fingers for typing or in your thumbs for texting. When it comes to health, the phrase “Move it or lose it” is no joke. Muscles need to move, and you’re the only person that can actually make that happen. What’s the problem?
Most “screen time” involves sitting down or not moving your body. People who lead sedentary lives become stagnant. Their energy tends to drop, their bodies have to work harder to function due to lack of stimulation, and they become more susceptible to illnesses and disease.
Movement is an essential part of staying healthy and happy. Movement or exercise has been shown to build a stronger connection between the mind and the body, lift your mood, decrease stress, reduce weight, prevent and help treat diseases, and much more. Movement is a great way to connect with others. Instead of spending an hour texting your friend, get together and go for a walk. Instead of watching show after show about rock climbing, organize a few friends or coworker to join a local climbing gym.
You can also use technology to your advantage to motivate you and help hold you accountable. There are hundreds of apps, inspirational videos and online meet-up groups that can help get you involved in exercise you love. Chart your progress, get geeky about stats and heart rates, or use social media as a way to get yourself connected with others who like to move.
Challenges to try:
#1 – Before watching your favorite show, take a 20-minute walk.
#2 – Start biking to work, to the grocery store, or on the weekends. You will be getting out into the world, taking in the sights, smells and sounds around you, and moving your body.
3. You’re missing out on time to be a human-being instead of just a human-doing.
Many of us are obsessed with productivity. We feel as if we have to “do do do” all the time order to feel good about ourselves, and feel uncomfortable if we don’t have something we’re working on. I’ve heard many people say that they’re actually afraid to slow down, to hang out with themselves, to just be.
Are you afraid to just be?
I know that when I find myself filling my entire day with computer work, emails to return, Skype sessions with Desire Coaching clients, and places I have to be, it’s because I’m avoiding facing something—my deeper desires. My desire to simply exist. My desire to slow down and be present. My desire to connect more strongly with gratitude. My desire to feel—on the deepest of levels—that I am worthy and allowed to be wherever I am in this moment, regardless if I respond to that email, make my daily posts on Facebook, or respond to text messages.
Disconnecting from your devices and screens allows you to redirect your attention to simply being for a little while—breathing, looking out the window, being present with yourself, your thoughts and your emotions. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to reflect on everything you’re grateful for in your life, big and small. It could be the gorgeous tree outside our window, our loving partner, delicious food, the ability to move our bodies, or a deep understanding of our values and soul purpose.
Challenges to try:
#1 – Turn your phone off for 30 minutes. Take a few deep breaths, sit outside and take in the sights and sounds around you, or enjoy a sunset—bring your attention back to the present moment when it wanders.
#2 – For the hour before you go to bed, disconnect from your devices and spend that time making a list of: 5 things you are grateful for, 7 of your deepest desires for your health, your life and your future, or 10 things that help you be more present.
Life continues to happen whether or not we’re continuously tuned in. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. How you spend it is up to you.
Will YouTube videos, Facebook, texting, and your favorite TV shows get to hog the majority of your day, or will you spend that time moving your body, connecting with the living world around you, and allowing yourself to simply be?
When you wean yourself off of virtual stimulation and break your addiction to screens, you begin to notice that the world beyond screens is quite mysterious, mind-blowing, and awe-inspiring.
So get out there, interact with your physical environment in fun and meaningful ways, and give your eyeballs and texting thumbs a little break. They’re ready for it.