Our mobiles are the centre of our lives – at least, that’s what it feels like. With the Easter holidays approaching (or here, for some of you), it should be a great time to disconnect from the daily grind and spend some time in the real world. But if you’re finding it a struggle, how can you switch off?
According to a Silentnight study, we spend an average of 8 hours and 41 minutes per day browsing on mobile devices, which is more than the average time we spend asleep (of 8 hours 21 minutes). A staggering 81% of smartphone users have it on 24/7, and four out of every 10 mobile users check their phones if it wakes them in the night. Sound familiar?
It’s all in the brain
It’s worth remembering that the design of the phones and our brains stack the odds against us from the start. Easy to use and perfectly fitting into the palm of your hand, no wonder going a moment without checking your phone is a test of will for the ages.
It’s so ingrained in our instinct to interact with technology in and out of the office that some might even argue it’s our digital sixth sense. Psychologist Dr. Sally Andrews of Nottingham Trent University, told the Huffington Post that, “A lot of smartphone use seems to be habitual, automatic behaviours that we have no awareness of”. British psychologist Dr. Richard House believes it’s an epidemic of using mobile phones at an average of “five times an hour, every waking hour!”
Why should you digital detox – and how?
Technology is a pillar of the modern workplace, but it’s also so much so much of a blocker that according to the Evening Standard, even the capital’s tech entrepreneurs are opting to give up tech for Lent’. Digital advertising execs are swapping their smartphones for less demanding ‘dumbphones’ in a bid to disconnect. The importance of switching off and spending time with peace of mind and connecting with family and friends is the key to happiness.
According to the Daily Mail, Professor Paul Dolan, from the London School of Economics, says the ‘secret’ to happiness is turning off your smartphone – and not doing so can put your mental health at risk. He warns that constant mobile users risk suffering from internet addiction, and increasing isolation from loved ones: “We’re constantly having our attentions distracted and distraction is a cost”. He recommends connecting with family and friends as being far better for long-term mental health and happiness than constantly checking your phone.
Do try this at home…
Leave your mobile phone unchecked for half an hour. See if you can leave it at home for a day. If you want or need to challenge yourself push this to a week, perhaps even two weeks.
Now you’re probably thinking that this sounds crazy. Reasons such as emergencies, reaching loved ones, connecting to world politics or just having a chinwag with friends start running through your mind. It’s a common fear; self-improvement website Success Consciousness reminds us that people have lived well without mobile phones for centuries, and still do today.
Disconnect to reconnect
Think of how your interaction with the outside world is enriched, even if you’re not peering into the lives of others and sharing moments from your own. You may even find it benefits your inner world; your mind is freed up to develop ideas and process information without being bombarded with emails, demands, and other people’s streams of consciousness.
You’ll enjoy reconnecting with your friends and family away from the constant glare of the mobile phone screen – we promise.
Have a happy Easter!