Unplugging from the Matrix: The Benefits of Going Through a Digital Detox

04.17.2018

These days, it seems most of our lives are spent surrounded by the familiar glow of one screen or another. Many of us go to work and stare into a computer screen all day. Then, when it’s time to take a break, we pull out the trusty smartphone and gaze into another, smaller screen.

And when it’s time to pack it up and go home, how do most of us choose to relax? Yup, you guessed it, by flipping on the television and checking out a movie, show, or video game on yet another screen. It seems like we can’t even resist the urge to reach for our smartphones when we go out to a concert or movie theater.

While new technology innovations can be a big help when trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, most of us use technology in ways that are anything but productive, and may even negatively affect our health by contributing to a sedentary lifestyle.

Just like Neo, the hero from the classic sci-fi movie, it appears that most of us are stuck in ‘The Matrix’— a virtual world where humans are drained of their energy in order to power the technology they created to make life easier. If this sounds familiar, then you might benefit from taking a short break from technology. Here are a few reasons why a digital detox may be a good idea:

Increased Productivity
When you think about it, one of the only truly limited resources we have is time. Once it’s gone, it’s gone—and none of us will ever get more. So, it’s important to make the most of what we’re given. Getting wrapped up endlessly scrolling through social media and constantly checking notifications means you’re not doing something else that may be more beneficial. It may not seem like much at the time, but it adds up. Limiting your technology use can help you accomplish more throughout the day, whether it’s spending time with your family, getting more work done, learning a new skill, or hitting the gym. 

Improved Sleep
One of the most overlooked aspects of health and wellness is sleep. It’s the unsung hero of the wellness world, affecting nearly every other aspect of your health—from your mood, to your immune system, your ability to concentrate, to even your love life. And yet, so many of us prefer to binge-watch another episode on Netflix or scroll through social media at bedtime instead of catching some much-needed z’s. In fact, research suggests that those late-night distractions can make it more difficult to nod off in the first place and even reduce the quality of sleep you do get. 

Better Mindfulness
Being present in the here and now has many benefits. It helps improve your relationships, reduces stress, and can help you stay focused on the task at hand. Unfortunately, distractions are everywhere, and technology can oftentimes be the number one offender. It doesn't take much to get us out of the moment—a text message notification, the impulse to check the likes on that pic you just posted, the urge to check out some cute animals, whatever. In addition to giving you time for more useful activities, taking a break from technology can also improve the quality of the time you spend participating in those actions.

Don’t Let the Machines Win
From news sites begging you to click the latest ‘shocking’ headline, to video games designed to keep you coming back, it seems like everywhere you look, technology is actively out to grab your attention and take your time. But you have a choice. Just like Neo had to decide whether to take the red pill or blue pill, you must decide for yourself how to spend your time. If technology is getting in the way of achieving your health goals, then perhaps it’s time to step away for a bit and spend that extra time doing something worthwhile. 

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