Digital Detox

Ditch the digital devices

I remember the days when I was younger and I’d play outside, trampling through mud and bush, playing with tadpoles I’d find in ponds, rolling down hills and getting grass in my hair. I would say that I was fortunate to have that kind of childhood because I as not distracted by the technological advances that we experience today. I’m considered a millennial, but I was born at the rising of digital devices, my first computer still used hard disks and the internet was still in its’ infancy. I grew up with a rotary phone and if I had to get somewhere, I used a paper map to find my way!

Fast forward to today and whoosh! We are connected more than ever, we can Skype with someone on the other side of the planet, we have access to a smorgasbord of information on the internet, TV’s are getting bigger and bigger, many people own videogame consoles, laptops allow us to bring our work on the go and cellphones are pretty much mini computer’s now! Many people would say technological advances have been a defining moment for mankind and I don’t deny that but sometimes I find myself longing for those days playing outside when technology wasn’t an option or distraction.

I’ll admit I do my fair share of social media and I love reading the top stories on Reddit but I also love being in my garden getting my hands dirty, breathing in the scent of the soil knowing that my labour will reward me with tasty vegetables. I also like to snowboard during the winter months and backcountry camp during the lovely prairie summers. These are the moments where I can connect with myself and the earth that has provided so much for me.

You may wonder what the big deal is by being constantly surrounded by electronics?

Technology can exert negative ramifications on our mental health. For some it can become likened to an addiction. The incessant need to be checking up on text messages, updating your Facebook status every moment, seeing how many likes your post received or how many people commented on your latest Instagram picture is an indication that you may be addicted to your electronics. When we see someone like a post for example that fires off pleasure releasing hormones in our brains, it’s instant gratification. Over time we can get addicted to those minute happy feelings; but let’s just say one day nobody makes a comment or likes your post, how will you feel then? Rejected? Unimportant? Frustrated?

Another way that technology affects our mental health is isolation. It can be very easy to submerge your whole self into the online world or even a video game, you can make friends all over the world but it’s a different kind of interaction, you’re still alone in a room with computer. Face to face interactions are an important human socialization skill, we learn how to read a person’s non verbal cues, their emotions by interacting with them in person. Isolation can lead to loneliness which may lead to depression as well as social anxiety when you do need to interact with someone in person.

Technology may also take its toll on people physically especially in regards to posture. Many people work at computers for their daily jobs, if you’re hunched over typing away if puts pressure on your spine. There is also poor posture due to the use of cell phones, when people are using their cell phones usually their heads are facing down, putting pressure on their head and shoulders. Over time poor posture will lead to issues in the future such as back and neck pain.

Being Less Active Leads to Weight Issues

Modern technologies have also allowed us to be lazy, real lazy! Instead of heading out to the mall, shopping can be done seamlessly online, you can now also grocery shop online; you make your order and someone else will grab all the items and meet you at your car. Want to connect with a friend? You can either Skype, text, email, call that person to catch up instead of doing it in person. Massive amounts of entertainment are at our disposal from the comfort of our couch, from Netflix, video games, movies etc. gone are the days when you’d take a trip down to the local Block Buster to peruse their selection. What this all means is that we are less active, being less active leads to weight issues and obesity.

So how can we remedy the digital overload? Very simply! It’s all about setting time out to be social and physically active and consider going for daily walks, bike rides, taking a yoga class or joining a gym! In order for the body to be in tip top shape it needs to move, living a sedentary lifestyle reduces muscle tone, fluids in the body become stagnant and fat will start to accumulate as it’s not being burned off by exercise.

As I mentioned earlier, I ground myself by doing things like gardening and camping. Being out in nature is grounding for the senses and calms the mind, in my opinion it’s one of the best forms of stress release. If you have not had the chance to do any form of camping, I highly recommend that you try it! For one, many camping spots are remote and away from access to any kind of wifi signal or technological advance, this truly allow you to step away and fully emerge yourself in the beauties that nature has to offer. There’s nothing like hearing wildlife noises, having the wind in your hair or gazing at the infinite number of stars at night, if you’re lucky the sky may grace you with northern lights and they are mesmerizing!

Disconnecting will allow you to reconnect with yourself. You may learn that you had some hobbies or hidden talents that would have otherwise been unknown, putting down the phone and interacting with people in person will strengthen relationships, finding other ways that provide satisfaction other than “likes” will also allow you to be a much happier person and are more fulfilling. So, do yourself a favor ditch the digital devices even if it’s for a little while!



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