Digital Distraction

Digital Distraction

How Plugged-In Are You?

Remember the good ‘ole days, when you’d sit indoors just waiting for that special phone call? Or wish you actually heard the voice of the person you’re making plans with? It may surprise you to know that you’re not the only person who hears ‘phantom alerts.’ Here are some disturbing facts about smart phone usage from a recent article about digital overload in Outside Magazine:

42 is the average number of messages sent per day by adult cell-phone users.
67 is the average number of messages sent per day by smartphone users ages 18-24
58% check their phones at least once an hour
54% check them while lying in bed
39% check their phones while seated on the throne

The Health Implications

Some may be in the camp that believes constant media engagement is a serious threat to humanity. Others feel that multitasking with devices is increasing your brain’s processing speed. But there is no doubt that our little mobile devices are impacting brain function. Every time we hear a notification, the primitive survival function of our brain is triggered to release dopamine, the reward neurotransmitter. Author Shirley Archer reported in the IDEA Fitness Journal in 2013 that “heavy mobile phone use has been linked to an increase in sleeping difficulties and depression.”

digital distraction
Sol’s stress management workshops create cell phone free zones

Seven Strategies

Smart phones and mobile technology are here to stay. So it may help to find ways to manage our technology, rather than allow our technology to manage us. I’ve been encouraging participants at Sol’s stress reduction workshops and outdoor fitness vacations to check their phones at the door before the session begins. At first people get nervous, but by the end of the class there are very few people running to reclaim their phones. It seems we all can use a welcome break from the daily digital distraction.

Outside author Nick Davidson recommends these ways to help manage technology:

Take 10-15 minute breaks from screens during the day.
Stand up and walk around every 90 minutes.
Take two longer periods a day to avoid screens entirely. Read a book or hang out with people in person.
Starting two hours before bed, minimize screen time to allow maximum melatonin production.
Schedule time for yoga, meditation, or routines that draw your attention to your breath.
Leave the smartphone off the table during social engagements and dinner.
Pick one training session a week to leave the fitness gadgets behind if you use them during training.

The Solution

My workout, meditation, and worship sessions are sacred “me” times. The smart phone is either turned off or left behind all together. I don’t know that there’s one quick and easy solution to the challenge of managing our technology in our lives. But I believe that we can be conscious and aware of the ways we allow it to run our lives and detract from our personal relationships. Then we can choose behaviors that curb the negative impacts.

What do you do to keep technology from running your life?

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