Simple Ways to Unplug and Unwind

Hi everyone! It’s time for another “Simple Ways” post! Life is already hard as it is, so why make things more difficult? Today’s topic: Technology.

Technology addiction: It’s real. In fact, Asian nations, particularly China, extensively research Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). According to the China Youth Internet Association, about 14 percent of urban youth there have the characteristics of Internet addicts (Mosher, 2011). I first decided to look into this condition after realizing that I couldn’t look in any direction without seeing someone glued to his or her phone. And I’m completely guilty, as well. It’s pretty ironic that I’m writing behind a computer screen, completely withdrawn from the world.

Before I mention the positive qualities of technology, it’s important to be aware of certain harmful effects. Studies have shown that overuse of technology can lead to physical challenges such as sleep deprivation, neck and back strain, eye problems, and risk of obesity (Madan, 2015). Too much exposure to technology can also affect our mental wellbeing. Social media can lead to excessive overthinking and worrying, and online bullying (Simpson, 2013).

I learned about some of these effects in my journalism class. Our TA was actually studying the impact of social media on young people, along with conducting real-life research. Since this is such a prevalent part of our society, I was completely intrigued. He described some of his findings at the beginning of our class for about a week. There’s one day that I distinctly remember. He was studying the correlation between depression and social media use. He displayed the front page of Tumblr and searched “Depression.” As soon as he hit “Enter,” the screen filled with a plethora of photos, quotes, and gifs. The amount of people suffering is staggering. You see dark backgrounds featuring quotes such as “No one cares until you’re dead,” and various despondent images. For some, this can be a comfort that says, “You’re not alone.” But for others, it can be a trigger. Thankfully, Tumblr took some necessary steps to look out for their users. Now when you search something like “Depression,” a blue screen appears stating this: “Everything okay? If you or someone you know are experiencing any type of crisis, please know there are people who care about you and are here to help.”

Now, I don’t exactly like it when people say things like, “You need to connect with real people, have real conversations.” Technology is not all negative. It has been an escape for so many. I can’t imagine not being able to share my writing or photos, or meeting people from around the world. Technology is a way to connect with real people, and it can be a creative and safe outlet. But there is such thing as “too much of a good thing.” Taking time to set aside all those devices is really one of the best things you can do for yourself. And that’s all you need to do it for. You. I can’t stress this enough. Unplugging is healthy for both mind and body. You’ll start to feel more connected to yourself and the world around you.

I know with today’s technology, it’s hard to spend even just an hour away from that bright screen. You know the mini panic attack you have when you can’t find your phone? Or when the Internet connection doesn’t work? Well, it’s time to get over it. Now I know that sounds harsh, but it’s so easy and completely worth it. It took me a while to leave all my devices alone without conscious effort. I’ve decided to share five simple ways that you can start to do the same.

  1. Take a Walk

Whether you choose a neighborhood or local park, go get that much-needed fresh air. Walking is a simple way to get your cardio in for the day, and it’s also incredibly therapeutic. Try not to bring your phone or iPod along; listen to the sounds of birds chirping and the wind rustling through the trees instead.

  1. Enjoy a Sunset

You know those breathtaking sunsets posted on Instagram? You can actually see one in real life. There is something naturally powerful about watching the sunset. When you take the time to really enjoy it, the moment doesn’t seem to pass as quickly. Avoid taking out your phone or camera; we all know it doesn’t look as beautiful on-screen.

sunset
I’m aware that this photo is completely hypocritical
  1. Write in a Journal

Journaling is a great way for people to de-stress, however, it’s especially useful for aspiring writers. I find that handwriting in a journal is more effective than typing sometimes. Internet tabs don’t distract you, you can get ideas flowing smoothly, and as a slower process, it’s easier to collect your thoughts.

  1. Read a Book

This is super easy for my fellow bookworms. Try not to read an e-book, even if you normally do. Go old-fashioned and pop open that paperback gathering dust in your room.

Ann Arbor 2
Literati Bookstore (Ann Arbor, MI)
  1. People Watch

Head over to a coffee shop and pick a spot by the window. Watch as people walk by. Make up random life stories. This would also be the perfect time to bring your journal or a book along instead of your technological gadgets.

 

What are some ways you unplug and unwind?

~~~

Sources and Further Reading:
Mosher, Dave. “High Wired: Does Addictive Internet Use Restructure the Brain?” Scientific American. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Aug. 2016.
Madan, Udita. “Harmful Effects of Technological Dependence on Health and Lifestyle.” Zee News. N.p., 25 Oct. 2015. Web. 16 Aug. 2016.
Simpson, Kelley. “Is Overuse of Technology Affecting Mental Health?” Healthy UNH. N.p., 13 May 2013. Web. 16 Aug. 2016.
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