Five ways to unplug from technology (and why it’s good for you)

With mobile phones and devices taking over our lives and the incessant need to stay connected 24/7 taking over, do you find yourself engaging more on screen than in real life with family and friends?

It’s time for a digital detox, perhaps! Here are five ways to start with.

1.  Keep to working hours

Remote working or not, the line tends to blur between work and personal life. During office hours, try to concentrate on your tasks at hand and when it’s after work, devote time to yourself. It’s important though not to over-indulge into either. Maintain a fine balance and you’ll start seeing life in a new light!

What you can do: Where possible, start by turning off your notifications once you are done with office work. If you are working in the office, one way is to see and use the commute time to reset your mind and transition yourself between work and home mode. Use the travelling time to mentally mark the end of a workday so that you can focus on your priorities or hobbies/activities at home.

Health benefit: This helps lower your stress levels and refresh your mind. Try some of these activities to spend quality time with yourself. 

2. Create a phone-free time

During the day, set aside a couple of hours where you keep your phone away. Convince yourself and others not to bring any gadgets to the meal-table and simply enjoy the food and conversations. Or play with your pets instead of playing games on your mobile. Health experts suggest that the best time to take a break from your device is before bedtime.

What you can do: Stop phone activity one-two hours before bedtime as research has shown that the ‘blue light’ emitted from phones sends a signal to your brain and messes with your melatonin levels (a hormone produced by brain in response to darkness which helps with sleep), making it even harder to fall asleep. Try reading a book or listening to music to relax.

Health benefit: Doing this can improve the quality of your sleep, giving you the rest you need to start the next day afresh.

3. Turn to nature

Head out to the nearest park for a walk, a run, or ride your bike. You could even just sit on a bench and take in the view. The important thing is to surround yourself with greenery and embrace everything around you.

What you can do: Singapore may be a metropolis but there are many ways you can get attuned to nature. Enjoy the sounds of the birds chirping, the leaves in the trees rustling and admire the beautiful sunset at the end of the day. You can try venturing out to places such as Singapore Botanic Gardens, Bukit Batok Nature Park, Dairy Farm Nature Park or Tampines Eco Green to name a few, for an invigorating hike.

Health benefit: Not only is the air cleaner, being around greenery has an overall rejuvenating impact on your body and mind.

4. Pick up a hobby

You could also finally spend time on that hobby you’ve been meaning to pick up, and if you want, ask a family member or friend to join you for more fun! Having a pastime will enhance the quality of your life, and physical ones like dance or sport can benefit your health by keeping you active and fit when you pursue them regularly.

What you can do: Choose a hobby that you really enjoy, so it is easier for you to dedicate time on it. You can try honing your cooking skills, learning a musical instrument, or trying out a new sport. No idea what kind of hobby to pick up? Click here for more ideas!

Health benefit: When you do something that you like or when you exercise, your brain produces ‘happy hormones’ such as oxytocin and endorphins, which leave you feeling more positive.

5. Focus on family and friends

Spend more time with your loved ones by doing an activity that involves no devices. Children these days rely on devices to entertain them, so set a good example for them by allocating family time daily or weekly.  

It’s also a good idea to catch up with friends over the weekend. Resist checking in or taking photos of food and places to upload when you meet. Instead, put your phone on silent mode, engage in conversation and just live in the moment.

What you can do: Encourage more conversations among the family members where they talk about their day or interests. This will strengthen your connection with them. Engage the kids the good old-fashioned way with board games, outings to the park or museum, cooking sessions, etc. If you are daring enough, get moving with your family on wheels, be it cycling or in-line skating.

When you disconnect from digital distractions, you will benefit in the following ways:

  • Better relationships with family and friends.
  • Less stress levels; you will feel happier.
  • Improved sleep patterns.
  • Reduced screen time means less health problems like eyestrain, neck and shoulder strain, headaches and backaches.

It’s never too late to adapt to change and when it’s for your own health, avoid delaying it! 

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