Near the end of each year most of us are chomping at the bit, anxiously awaiting some much-needed downtime. As business slows down and responsibilities wane, people look forward to much-needed rest and rejuvenation. This break is also an opportunity to finally unplug.
There’s a lot of emerging research on the effects of technology use on our collective mental health, but what’s most important to understand about technology is how ubiquitous connectivity can exacerbate worry, fear, sadness and a host of other emotions. If unchecked, this effect could contribute to mental fatigue.
A new problem in recent generations has been, in part, the accessibility of information that most of us have through the use of technology. We constantly use computers, tablets, and smartphones to check in on news, learn, and connect with others. The downside to that behavior is that we often find ourselves inundated with information during almost every waking minute of the day. This bombardment can lead to increased feelings of stress, worry, anxiety, and depression. Taking time to consciously unplug may help increase the restoration power of any time off during the holiday season.
“Unplugging” doesn’t necessarily mean stepping away from your devices altogether (but that could also be healthful). It can also involve approaching your technology use with much more intention and consciousness, something we don’t have most days when we scroll down our timelines or newsfeeds. Stop to consider the number of accounts you follow on Twitter that report the news. How many people do you follow who editorialize that same news? You might be unconsciously double-dipping and contributing to your own mental fatigue without even knowing it.
The holiday season is a good time to review your social media accounts and home in on what’s most important for you to know. That way, as you get back to your normal routine, you’ve already de-escalated one prevalent source of stress.
Our bodies also stand to gain a lot from unplugging from technology. For one, our eyes can rest! Stop a moment to consider how many hours of a day you spend looking at a computer or smart device. More than likely, it’s a lot of time. Our visual systems need refuge from that activity. Unplugging during the holiday season can offer you that restoration.
When we are using technology, we often neglect our physical selves quite a bit,too. We sit in the same position (or a similar one) for hours on end doing work, connecting, or reading the news. If you take some time to unplug, you’ll be doing your body a favor. Stretching and checking in with your posture and body more during downtime might highlight the need to be more physically attentive on average days. It can also be a helpful reset to get you back on a healthier track overall.
Finally, taking time to unplug this holiday season might foster better social connections. While we love communicating with friends and family via social media sites, there is no replacement for hearing laughter in person, or getting a warm hug from someone who cares about you. Spending real face time with those you love most will help strengthen those relationships and reaffirm why you keep them in the first place.