I don’t know about you but in today’s multi-tasking society where we’re always connected via smartphone, laptop and iPad, my mind never wants to turn off. It affects my sleep, energy level, attention span, personal interactions and mood. Does this happen to you? Would you like to unwind, de-stress and perhaps add to your longevity? Then join September’s One Healthy Change a Month: Disconnect.
Imagine four days of no Internet where there is little to do but watch the passing scenery, read and take naps. That’s exactly what I experienced while riding the Alaska Marne Highway from Whittier, AK, to Bellingham, WA. And it reminded me of the importance of disconnecting from the online world. Once I accepted the fact that I was not going to have any Internet, I gave up my need to stay constantly connected, which allowed me to relax and recharge my creativity battery. I arrived back in Montana refreshed with lots of new ideas and projects in mind.
In August’s One Healthy Change Month: Move challenge, I wrote about how prolonged sitting at the computer is bad for your health. And this article from the Mayo Clinic website agrees. But excessive online time is also detrimental to our psyche. In an article for Psychology Today, Dr. Susan Baiali writes about how too much time online makes us moodier, lonelier and obsessed.
According to Baiali’s article, Dr. Andrew Weil turns off all of his devices at 3 p.m. each afternoon. I’m not sure that I can follow Dr. Weil’s practice. Could you?
Tips to Disconnect:
- Each 60 to 90 minutes, step away from the computer to take a moving break (it will also allow your eyes to rest. Set a timer as a reminder. Do not bring your smartphone with you.
- Walk outside for 30 to 60 minutes-a-day. The nature break will help clear your mind, especially if you do not bring any online devices on the walk.
- Decide on a time each evening to turn off all devices. Don’t check email, Facebook or other online sites after your self-imposed cutoff time. (This one’s going to be so hard!).
- Do not browse the Internet in bed from your iPad, tablet or smartphone. Read a book instead.
- Focus on a personal relationship. Turn off the online devices and have a conversation with your partner, spouse, child or parent instead. Without any online distractions (or TV) you’ll really pay attention to what they are saying.
- Learn to relax without surfing the Internet, watching TV or a movie.
- Schedule a disconnect day for once a week—no checking email, surfing on the Internet or sneaking in a bit of work. Instead, reconnect with your spouse or partner; go for a hike; read a book or enjoy a favorite hobby.
So here’s the One Healthy Change a Month challenge for September: choose one of my tips to disconnect from the online world and put it into practice. Let me know which one you choose. I’m thinking big and choosing to disconnect for one day a week.
It’s not too late to join our challenge. Click on One Healthy Change a Month to read more.
Confession time. One Healthy Change a Month: Disconnect is going to be hard for me. As with any big change, I do better by easing into it. So if a day of un-connectedness is too much, start with four hours then, each week, add an hour or two. We’ll eventually get to an entire day offline, I promise.
What do you do to disconnect? Have you tried going one day a week without any online activity? Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email with your comments or questions.