Smartphones. Never-ending news cycles. Busy at work and then taking work home. Electric screens at all hours of the day – and night. Does it ever end?
All the “modern conveniences” have us more hyper-connected than ever before. And while there’s something to be said for increased productivity and instant information, there is a point of diminishing returns. Somewhere along the line, we’ve crossed a threshold and entered the realm of “peak technology.” Everyone can benefit from simply unplugging, even if it’s just one day.
If every action has an opposite and equal reaction, then the natural, logical reaction to your personal electronic universe is to seek a peaceful refuge with no glowing screens, no beeping devices and no constant reminders. It all starts with a commitment to unplugging and unwinding from the daily onslaught of modern technology.
What are the negative health consequences of 24/7 electronic devices? And how can unplugging help hit your own reset button? Let’s take a look at the health benefits of unplugging. But first, here are some facts about how our current connectivity has negatively affected our health.
The Hidden Toll of Hyper-Connectivity
The physical impact of never unplugging is real. For example, there’s a term for constantly checking smartphones and other mobile devices: “slow death by texting.” Bad neck posture, slumped shoulder and other negative habits flow from endless electronic access. The human head weighs about 12 pounds, and every inch you tilt your head forward adds another 10 pounds, in terms of the stress on your neck and shoulders. Thus, at a 3-inch tile, the average person using a cellphone supports essentially a 42-pound cranium!
And that’s just the beginning. Excessive texting has been shown to cause “text claw,” where tendinitis can lead to greater discomfort, all the way through the wrist and forearm.
These two conditions are byproducts of the 21st century; and when a way of life (in this case, always being plugged in) generates two entirely new health problems – with their own nicknames, no less – it’s time to take notice!
The adverse physical effects are one thing; psychological problems are another. A widely-cited research paper concluded that too much Facebook use is actually counter-productive; subjective well-being tended to decline dramatically among a majority of participants. So what was the remedy? Good old-fashioned face-to-face conversations, meaningful conversations and other unplugged activities.
Unplug Your Devices & Undo the Harm Already Done
Motivational author Brian Tracy has a simple, straightforward way to unplug. Mr. Tracy deals with high-achievers in the corporate world, where split-second information, always being “in the know” and never unplugging are a way of life. His prescription? “Resolve to take one full day off each week during which you do not touch your computer, check your Smartphone, or make any attempt to keep in touch with the world technology.”
Sounds easy enough, but what are the actual health benefits of the occasional unplug? Here are just a few, according to the famous Journal of Happiness study:
- Strengthens immune system
- Improves social interaction
- Reduces stress levels
- Fosters an “open mind” attitude
- And many more
There’s something about the modern desire to unplug that aligns with ancient wisdom and tradition. Shabbat San Diego, one of the area’s foremost proponents of Judaism’s holy customs, is participating in an unplugging event on a global scale: the International Unity Shabbat, scheduled for November 10th through 12th, 2016.
Shabbat San Diego’s strategic statement echoes some of the positive ways in which all of us – regardless of faith – can benefit from ditching our phones for a few days: Participants are encouraged to get unplugged from daily routines, distractions, and demands and plug into Shabbat, a time of individual rest, renewal and spiritual contemplation.
The ultimate paradox of our connected world is the “plugged in, yet unplugged” conundrum. For every device you’re plugged into, that’s just another barrier that keeps you unplugged into yourself, your soul and your surroundings.