Digital detox: cut screen time to boost creativity, performance and passion

By Nikki Fogden-Moore.

Does it ever feel as if life is just speeding by and you’re running from one thing to the next without time to pause and regroup? Have you lost your sense of humour? Are you feeling more sensitive or just not feeling quite yourself? And have you put exercise and general wellbeing at the bottom of the priority list because you don’t have time for them?

You’re not alone. Despite all the technology in our lives that is supposed to save time, it seems people are more stressed and time poor than ever.

Communications regulator Ofcom says UK adults spend an average of eight hours and 41 minutes a day on media devices, compared with the average night’s sleep of eight hours and 21 minutes. That’s more time on digital devices than sleep (BBC Technology News, 2015). According to Nielsen research in the US, Americans spend up to 60 hours a week consuming content across as many as four devices. Australia is not far behind this.

Eye strain, headaches, posture issues, fatigue at work, lack of sleep and lack of physical activity are just a few side effects of too much screen time. We all know this is the case; what worries me is that intelligent, savvy people who know what healthy living means are not taking the most basic steps to slow down, reboot their hard drive each day and get offline to reconnect.

At a certain point, your body simply says no. It may be in the form of a cold or flu, poor eyesight, a niggling pain or injury, headaches, digestive complaints, skin disorders, insomnia or just the fact you feel exhausted and can’t concentrate efficiently during the day. By the time it comes to this, it’s already a reflection of a low immune system and the cellular impact of stress.

Much emphasis is placed on exercise and diet for general health and wellbeing, but a big part of the wellness and vitality picture is often left out – mindset and mental clarity and getting back to basics with the three core pillars of vitality: fresh air, fresh food and a fresh perspective.

Taking regular nano-breaks away from your laptop, phone, tablet and TV can rapidly produce great results in just a few minutes a day, every day. These include:

  • Reducing the effects of dry eyes and strained vision.
  • Creating a pause of mental clarity and creativity.
  • Reconnecting with your surroundings and your purpose.
  • Making better-informed decisions from your gut instinct.
  • Noticing your posture and your breathing.
  • Improving sleep.
  • Reducing stress.
  • Increasing mental and physical vitality

How can you begin now to deal with stress and help your body cope with daily mental and physical demands? By giving yourself a regular digital detox. Here are some practical tips for a daily reboot:

 

During the day

  • Place a sticky note on your computer that says ‘take a nano break’. Get up and walk away from your compute. Go over to a colleague to speak to them personally, rather than emailing across the room.
  • Stay off Facebook/social media in the morning on the way to work; listen to music, a podcast or read a book instead.
  • Take a fresh-air break at lunch time, rather than eating lunch with your phone or tablet in front of you.
  • Look up, look around, head out for a quick break around the office, take the dog for a walk, do something active with your kids during the weekend.
  • Use time away from work to recharge your mental and physical batteries.

 

At night

  • Avoid television, illuminated alarm clocks and other digital stimuli in the bedroom.
  • Read a book before you go to sleep, rather than watching television or working late on the computer. Meditate and concentrate on breathing.
  • Channel your thoughts from worry to a place of peace.
  • Create a regular bedtime routine and a regular sleep-wake schedule.
  • Create a restful environment that is dark, cool and comfortable.
  • Play restful music to help you relax.
  • Keep a diary of things on your mind – get them out of your head and onto paper, even if it’s a list of things to do for the next day.

Think of a digital detox as recharging your own batteries. If we don’t fully recharge our batteries, then we diminish our energy levels and our ability to handle stress and perform daily tasks. So, after you’ve read this –  rather than returning to your iPhone, connecting to Netflix or reading on your kindle – why not lace up your shoes, head out the door or jump up and get talking to a friend, family member or colleague. Sometimes you need to disconnect to reconnect.

Nikki Fogden-Moore specialises in private coaching for high achievers to bring business and personal vitality to life. She runs tailored corporate-vitality programs, writes for several business magazines, is the head trainer for Womens Health and Fitness Magazine and has been operating leadership and private retreats for more than a decade internationally. Contact her on [email protected] or www.thevitalitycoach.com.au.

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