With the name “Digital” in our name, it probably comes as no surprise that we love technology. Good tech makes our lives easier and more organized; it assists us in living our best life. But too much tech – even really good tech – can start to feel like it’s taking over your life. It’s summer now, and we think that’s the best possible time to suggest that you take a tech break.
What is a tech break?
Exactly how you want to define a tech break is completely up to you. It could mean a complete tech fast for a day or even a week, like on a no-frills camping trip. Or it could just mean taking a social media break, purging your bedroom of any screens, or leaving your phone at home for a day. Whatever it means to you, it should feel like that perfect combination of nervous relief.
Why is it important to take a tech break?
According to a CIBC poll, Canadian smartphone users say they check their mobile device every 10 minutes. That’s six times every hour. That’s over 100 times a day. We even “second screen” on our phones while watching TV!
In another poll, a third of smartphone users reported that they respond to messages within a few minutes, and 71% say they respond to messages within a half and hour.
We are ultra-uber-woah connected. And that connection doesn’t always benefit us. There are so many reasons to take periodic breaks from technology, but let’s talk about the top 3 reasons.
1. Reduced stress, increased mental health
There are many ways that technology can actually help reduce stress, so this isn’t a blanket condemnation. But too much availability and too much screen time can cause stress. Even having your phone in sight can elevate your levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Teens who spend excessive time (around 9 hours a day) with smart devices are twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression. It’s also really important for adults to have boundaries around work – being available all of the time might feel necessary to advance in your career, but it comes at a cost to your mental health. You need time to recharge after you leave work, but technology can make that work/home boundary blurry. Setting rules about after-hours availability will significantly reduce stress.
2. Improved sleep
The light that tablets and phones emit actually lower your levels of melatonin, a hormone that is critical for sleep. Low melatonin levels are also linked to chronic health conditions, like diabetes and even cancer.
A lack of boundaries when it comes to accessibility can also lead to sleeplessness. We need a break between the stresses of the day and snooze time. If you check emails right before bed, you risk stimulating messages that keep you awake. Just try to go to sleep after you read an email from your boss chastising you, or a message from your friend with great news.
Sleep is incredibly important to health and performance. Lack of sleep is linked to not only chronic disease, but poor cognitive performance (not great for work or school), weight gain, and being a grumpy jerk.
3. Improved self image
Social media and TV are a great way to stay connected and entertained. They, unfortunately, are also a great way to feel pretty terrible about yourself. Humans seem to have an innate need to compare themselves to other humans, and technology has increased the size of the window we have into other’s lives. Whether it’s a new truck or vacation, the way someone looks or the way their relationship appears, there are plenty of opportunities to judge ourselves against others. Merely watching an influencer on Instagram can lead to unhealthy eating or exercise habits; watching TV can make you feel worse about your perfectly lovely body. Apart from any actual effects screen time has on our physical bodies (and it does have physical effects), we feel bad about our bodies and ourselves when we consume too much media.
Limiting social media and watching less YouTube and TV, at least periodically, can help us feel better about the person we see in the mirror. Plus, we’ll have more time to take vacations and build satisfying relationships if we spend less time watching other people live their lives.
Technology is wonderful – we are clearly fans. But taking a periodic tech break is incredibly helpful in balancing our physical, psychological, emotional and social health.
We’d love to hear – how do you take a tech break? And what do you notice about how you feel?