It’s no surprise that people are spending more and more time online, but just how much more time might come a shock. A recent study from Deloitte found that the on average, adults check their phone a whopping 46 times a day. It’s no wonder we’re all starting to feel the effects.
Our use of smartphones in general, and social media in particular, has been linked to increased narcissism and higher incidence of insomnia, and one study found that the growing amount of screen time made kids less empathetic. The prevalence of smartphones has also blurred the lines between work life and home life with many employees are expected to reply to work emails long after they leave the office for the day. Then there are the studies that show that checking your phone right before bed disturbs sleep. If you’re feeling tired, irritable or stressed out, there’s a good chance your phone is to blame.
One of the best ways to counteract the effects of time spent online is to take a digital detox and head outside. According to an article in the Huffington Post, “Science shows that spending time in the great outdoors can actually make you healthier. Escaping to the woods, mountains or even your neighborhood park helps both your body and your brain.”
A study in the American Journal of Health found that time in the great outdoors increases brain function, so if you want to succeed, get outside. Another study published in the Journal of Aging Health found that spending time outside can actually help you age more gracefully. According to environmental psychologist Judith Heerwagon, spending time outside has even been scientifically proven to make us happier.
Many of the benefits of spending time outside are summed up in this video:
All kidding aside, if you’re convinced about the benefits of putting your phone away and spending some time outside here are six ways to get started.
5 Steps to taking a digital detox this summer
- Turn off your notifications. If the thought of turning off your phone is giving your heart palpitations, start with some baby steps. Try turning off your notifications so your phone doesn’t beep every few minutes. Create specific times to check your phone so you won’t miss anything important.
- Go device free at meal times. Use your lunch break as a chance to switch off your devices and connect with the people around you. Have a conversation. You’ll make better choices about what to eat if you’re more focussed on the meal itself. If you need to bring your phone with for safety reasons, put it in airplane mode. This will stop the beeps and notifications, but your phone will still be there if you need it.
- Put your phone down and read a book. We’re becoming accustomed to getting our news and information in tiny, bite sized portions. Take your brain out for a run by reading a book on your favourite topic, or escape entirely with a great work of fiction.
- Welcome quiet time. A little boredom can be good for your mind. Take some quiet time to think things over or let your mind wander. Indulge in a some daydreaming and see where your brain takes you.
- Go for a walk or a hike. Put your phone away and go out and explore your neighborhood. Breathe deeply and take in the sights. Feel the sun on your skin and get your heart pumping. Walking can increase creative productivity so it’s the perfect time to dream a little and see what you can come up with. Hiking is a whole-body workout masquerading as a day at the park. It’s also a social activity – the perfect counterpoint to the isolation of staring at your phone. If you’re near Vancouver take an easy stroll in Lynn Canyon or Lighthouse Park. If you have a little more time go explore the mountains in Chilliwack and you’ll see why hikes up Elk Mountain, Lindeman Lake or Teapot Hill are so popular.
Smartphones aren’t going anywhere, but smart people understand the need to put some boundaries around their devices for everyone’s sake. Putting down your phone will help you sleep better, have better conversations, and be more alert for everything else the day throws at you. What could be better? Time to go play outside.