Do I Need a [Digital] Detox?
From a very early age, my life began to be structured by technology. When the TV announced “Live! From Studio 1A in Rockefeller Plaza!” I knew I was in trouble. The Today show meant it was 7 o’clock and I’d better run as fast as I can if I was going to catch the school bus. Nowadays, that framework seems more like a full-fledged dependency…
The first sound I hear in the morning is my iPhone’s alarm clock; the majority of my daily interactions come from exchanged emails and long-distance phone calls with people I’ve never actually met; and most days, my idea of “winding down” includes binge-watching a Netflix series and skimming through multiple social media accounts. Admit it, you do it, too.
It’s this last confession that disturbs me the most. Even when technology is not a matter of modern survival, we prescribe ourselves smartphones like medicine. But, as much as I enjoy those breaks, sifting through my Instagram feed as a way to check out, the fact is, I’m not. I find myself feeling mentally drained, emotionally unfulfilled, and by default, unhappy.
As it turns out, we’re playing games on our own minds. Despite the perception of pleasure, research has found that this new tech-driven era is inflicting a serious psychological toll: creating new kinds of stress and forcing us into a permanent mode of activity. So, what are we to do if it’s nearly impossible to disconnect?
According to Dawn Wildes, instructor and founder of Growing Branches, a Colorado-based yoga company, the key is cultivating tools for a more aware, more present lifestyle.
“It could be something as simple as taking a walk,” she says, noting the importance of bringing together the physical and the mental.
“All it takes is three breaths to calm the nervous system,” Wildes explains.
“Taking the time to focus on just three body cleansing breaths and creating a vision of what it looks like to move your breath throughout your whole body, it can be a foundation for so much more.
"It’s something so simple — no one needs to buy anything, no one needs any fancy tools — you have what you need.”
The core of Wilde’s message is this: mindfulness. When I think of a moment when I was overwhelmed, anxious or stressed, it’s because part of me was somewhere else or bouncing from one thing to another. It’s truly exhausting!
This ‘medicine’…is it working? Or are your online connections causing you to disconnect? Perhaps it’s time for a digital detox.
5 SIGNS YOU NEED A DETOX
01/// You spend more time than intended
02/// You feel guilty or dissatisfied after binging on technology (social media, Netflix, texting)
03/// You are motivated by FOMO (fear or missing out)
04/// You experience urges to check
05/// You never have enough time in your day
Published in Boulder Lifestyle, October 2017