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Plugged in and stressed out: Do you need a ‘Digital Detox’?

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With the many advances in technology, one would think it would eliminate more stress than it creates.

Technology allows us quick and easy access to knowledge and information, helps us manage our lives and enables us to stay connected to people all around the world.

But it’s that constant connection to technology may also be stressing us out.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Cambridge found there is a very real link to communication technology and feeling stressed.

Researchers polled 1,300 people in the UK and found that feeling stressed from communication technology can lead to general feelings of dissatisfaction with your life overall.

Interestingly, even younger tech users reported similar feelings of stress. The study noted that about 38 percent of study participants ages 10 to 18 felt overwhelmed by too much technology, compared to 34 percent of adults between the ages of 25 and 34.

It’s estimated that more than 87 percent of the world’s population owns a mobile device.

That number is even higher here in Bermuda, which means whether we’re out to dinner, spending time with friends or meeting with colleagues, we’re surrounded by technology.

Our phones have become appendages with e-mails, texts, phone calls and social media updates constantly coming in.

Our attention spans have decreased, we’re reducing our human connections and we’re increasingly avoiding face-to-face contact.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired of seeing people on their devices during a nice dinner. It’s just rude.

And while technology can be a beautiful thing keeping us connected to the world and the ones we love, it’s another thing entirely when you’re always ‘on’ and technology starts to take over your life.

So, in honour of Digital Detox Week which is next week, April 29-May 5, I challenge you all to think about putting your iPads and smartphones down in the evenings or actually (gasp!) calling an old friend rather than e-mailing, texting or Facebooking them.

If you feel you might need a major digital detox, there are some easy steps you can take to disconnect and decompress:

Set some limits. Try not checking your email before 10 am, turning off your phone/laptop/tablet by 8pm, or setting a time to switch off at least a couple hours before you go to bed. Your life won’t implode, I promise.

Use that time to focus your energy on something else, like your family, reading or relaxing. Your mind and body will be able to slow down and regroup.

You’ll find that you sleep much better and wake up energised and refreshed.

Leave your cell phone in another room when you’re sleeping. We have a tendency to sleep with our phone right next to us for fear of missing something.

Try leaving your phone charging in the hallway or in another room. It might be difficult at first, but you’ll find you feel better as time passes. It’ll help you focus on the task at hand — sleep!

Turn your phone off and put it away when you’re with friends and family. Our loved ones deserve our full attention. When you leave your phone off, you’ll find that you’re more alert, attentive and responsive in your conversations and you may even find you have more fun.

Do a digital-free day. If you’re able to accomplish the first few tips, then you might be ready for a 24-hour Digital Detox.

Use this time to do something that you find enjoyable or relaxing.

Have fun with your family, curl up with a good book or indulge in a day at the spa.

Set a no-connection time each week. Make it a regular thing to enjoy some time without the distractions of technology. Whether it’s time set aside for reading or starting a project and do it consistently.

Once you have the 24-hour Detox down, try it for 36-48 hours. You might find it liberating.

Tech Junkies: Look familiar? If you can relate to this photo, you might want to consider a Digital Detox.
Addicted to Tech: It’s a familiar scene these days people glued to their smartphones even when they're out to dinner.

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Published April 24, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 23, 2013 at 5:57 pm)

Plugged in and stressed out: Do you need a ‘Digital Detox’?

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