When is the last time you went 24 hours without checking your email, scrolling through Facebook or were otherwise unplugged? If you can’t remember, you’re not alone. Technology and addicting apps have made the mini computers we all carry around like another appendage. They are wonders that have made life more convenient — order your groceries for delivery, learn how to fix the toilet, or keep tabs on your kids in seconds. And they keep us constantly connected to the world. But study after study shows that our obsession with screens also does damage to our relationships, and mental and physical health. Fortunately, with a little intention and mindfulness, we can repair much of this damage by simply making the choice to unplug.
Now we aren’t suggesting that you disconnect from the digital world altogether. We are realists, after all! But we are onboard with making the choice to change your lifestyle and set designated times to disconnect from tech, whether it’s all day every Sunday or every night when you get home from work. You should make disconnecting work for you, but however or whenever you choose to disconnect, the key is that you do.
Here are 5 reasons it’s important to unplug from tech:
1. Your eyes need to rest and recover.
If you have a job where you spend eight hours a day in front of a computer, that’s a lot of time when your eyes focus up close. According to a 2015 report by The Vision Council, nearly 61 percent of adults reported spending five or more hours on digital devices. Almost 30 percent said they spend more than nine hours a day on digital devices.
When you focus up close for so much time, you typically blink far less than the average 15-20 times a minute that you usually would. In addition, most screens are backlit and give off blue light, or high-energy visible light wavelengths, which can cause irritation and potentially long-term damage to the retina.
This adds up to digital eyestrain, a condition that is becoming more and more common. Eyestrain shows itself through dry eyes, irritated eyes, and blurred vision and fatigue.
In times when you can’t unplug, a good rule of thumb to help relax your eye muscles is the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, focus on something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Simply put, give your eyes a chance to rest.
If your eyes feel the effects of too much screen time, you may want to see an ophthalmologist. We’ve got vision solutions that can help at Capstone Vision of Auburn Hills.
2. You can sleep better.
That pesky blue light also interferes with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Researchers at Brigham & Women’s Hospital found that people who read on lit iPads for four hours in the evenings fell asleep 10 minutes later than their counterparts who read paper books. They also got significantly less deep sleep and found it harder to wake up, even after eight hours of sleep.
Lack of sleep can make your eyes feel dry and irritable. Come in to Capstone Vision for your Sensitive Eye Exam (SEE) for an evaluation and solution.
3. You can take a break from work and de-stress.
With our phones constantly at the ready, it’s tempting to check work emails and even communications from productivity apps like Slack or Trello on off hours — and your boss or clients may even expect it. Essentially, tech has made it harder and harder for any of us to really be off the clock. But when you tune in to work when you’re at home, some frustrating email from your boss will be on your mind instead of you being fully engaged in a family conversation at the dinner table. Instead of leaving your work at the office, it follows you into your home and even to bed as you check your email just one more time before you try to nod off for the night.
If you set boundaries between your work and personal time, you’ll be better able to relax and de-stress at home, be present with family and friends, and be refreshed when you get back to work.
4. Your brain can recuperate and process.
With messages coming at us all day (and night!) from texts, social media, email, news alerts and more, our brains are constantly going. Then add in the passive scrolling that we do on social media and news sites or the multitasking many of us are so fond of.
But in reality, passive scrolling doesn’t feed our brain with useful information, and studies continually show that multitasking is actually bad for productivity.
If you want to be productive, focus on one thing at a time. And research indicates that you will better absorb experiences and information if you give your brain a break and let it process what it’s learned.
5. You can strengthen your relationships.
It seems like social media is helpful in relationships because it makes it so easy to check in with friends and family. But a comment on a post doesn’t compare to quality conversation over coffee or even the phone. And it can be way too easy to see red when a beloved family member gets political in a way you disagree with on Facebook.
Plus, studies continually show that social media perpetuates feelings of envy among friends as well as FOMO — or fear of missing out. (The coined term is actually “Facebook envy.”) When you see your friends’ carefully cultivated social media life, it can make you feel bad.
So instead, connect with your friends and family in the real world and strengthen your bond instead of letting social media fray it and negatively affect your emotional well-being.
You might think it’s going to be almost impossible to disconnect from your tech, but give it a try! Maybe no smartphones after dinner or avoid Facebook on the weekend to start. It might be tough at first, and you may even feel anxious — like you’re missing out. But once you absorb yourself in other parts of life instead, notice how you feel! You might even opt for more time “off the grid.”
To learn more about how Capstone Vision can help you combat the visual effects of too much screen time, call us today at 248-710-0063 or visit us online.