By Sara Stender ,Director, Tech Cleanse.
25th November 2013
The “tech cleanse” movement is about achieving an equilibrium with technology, rather than taking an all-or-nothing approach. I would never expect anyone to remove technology from their life, and we benefit greatly from technological advancements. The key is looking at the intention behind our usage, and taking into consideration the frequency of and the environments in which we turn to our digital devices.
Mindfulness plays a major role in finding balance. For example, if I am waiting in line at the store, my instinct is to immediately reach for my smartphone. But lately I have been pushing myself to take a moment first, to consider the urgency and intention behind this instinct. For some people it has become almost a nervous twitch, and it is nearly impossible to stand idly without “doing something.” Each time I am waiting in a line or in traffic, I try to remember to give thanks for the rare time that I get to take a break from all of the input.
For people who work in the tech industry, this becomes even more important. An extreme example is my father, who has been a successful programmer and systems analyst his entire life. He works long hours and when he is not at the office he is mostly unplugged. He does not own a personal computer or a tablet, and it has only been a year since he broke down and got a basic cell phone. His most beloved digital device is his GPS that guides him through the wilds of Canada where he hunts each November.
So how do we find that equilibrium? And for those of us working in the technology sector, what are some practical tools we can put into action right away? These questions are at the core of the tech cleanses I lead. Here are a few easy tips:
- When not at work, schedule your tech breaks. Check your texts, social media, or whatever else seems important to you before dinner and then leave your phone muted, face down or tucked away. Remind yourself you can take another look after dinner to put your mind at ease.
- Leave technology out of the bedroom. All of it. Not only will it put your mind at ease to know checking your phone in the middle of the night is not an option, but studieshave shown that having digital devices near your bed at night may interferes with the quality of your sleep. Using technology just before sleep has shown to lead to poor sleep quality and even a deterioration in verbal-cognitive performance for youth.
- Throughout the day, take at least two 15-minute breaks from all technology, whether it is a short walk outside or catching up with a friend. (If possible, it is ideal to take five-minute breaks every 90 minutes.)
Just like any stimulant, checking your smartphone sends a rush of dopamine to your brain. Find other “pleasure points” that can replace this technology fix. The more replacement activities you turn to, the more you can re-establish equilibrium, and in turn you might appreciate your time with technology even more!