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Winter 2017 Edition

Five Reasons To Disconnect From Digital Technology

While it may be the norm for many, being connected 24/7 to your computer, laptop, smartphone or iPad comes with a price.  Here are five good reasons to take breaks from digital technology.

1. Recharge from job stress – According to a survey conducted by VTech, being constantly accessible for work was the number-one source of technology-related stress. Studies show, however, that in spite of modern work trends, our brains need downtime for recovery and we need our evenings and weekends to disconnect and recuperate from the stresses of work.  Although it can be tempting to continue to check email, return text messages and answer work calls after normal work hours, it is important to allocate time for yourself and switch off work stress.  Tell your colleagues that you will be unavailable after a certain time, turn off your phone and computer and set aside some work-free time each evening to relax.  Your employer will benefit too, as you’ll be coming back to work more relaxed and recharged each day.

2. Maximize your productivity – Studies have found that multitasking reduces your productivity by 40 percent.  This is because our brains are designed to focus on one thing at a time and bombarding them with unrelated, extraneous information only slows them down.  Researchers at Stanford University found that people who are regularly besieged with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who completed one task at a time.  To improve your productivity at work – or for other cognitive tasks –do one thing at a time and give it your full attention.  Disconnect from your phone, texting, email, social media, etc. and schedule specific times during the day to attend to these.

3. Enhance your relationships – Texting or scrolling through your smartphone during dinner is not just an issue of table manners.  Sharing a meal or other time spent with family and friends is an opportunity to engage in first-person conversation, but when people are more interested in checking the latest text or Facebook update on their phone, the chance for meaningful connection suffers.  When you’re spending time with family and friends, turn off your phone or tablet and give them your undivided attention.  This break will give you the focus to more fully connect with others, which will improve your relationships.

4. Improve your mood –Mental health researchers report that being overly tuned in to smartphones and laptops causes over-stimulation, anxiety and stress.  A recent study showed that people now check their mobile phones more than 150 times per day.  “People are often in the quick-to-respond mode which undermines their ability to calm down and relax, taking a toll on their emotional state,” says Psychotherapist Lisa Brateman, LCSW. Just like your physical body, your brain needs downtime too.  Brateman and others recommend scheduling breaks during the day from all digital technology, “unplugging” during dinner and at least two hours before bedtime.

5. Promote better sleep – According to neuroscientists, the blue light from laptops, tablets and cellphone screens can disrupt your sleep, especially if you use these devices before bed.  Studies show that the artificial light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.  This suppression makes it harder to fall asleep.  Health experts recommend that you avoid these electronic devices for at least two hours before bedtime.


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Disclaimer: This newsletter is not intended to provide medical advice on personal wellness matters. Please consult your physician for medical advice.