Why you need to disconnect in order to reconnect…
Let’s face it. Most of us are digital junkies in today’s world. We are in a state of constant connection. When we are not working on our desktop computers or laptops, we are reading on our tablets, Kindles or smartphones. Or furiously scrolling social media sites or videos because of FOMO (fear of missing out). The scariest part of all this is smartphone addiction because we carry our phones everywhere. Remember: digital technology has been designed to be addictive. Yes, that’s the truth.
Think about it. When was the last time you smiled or engaged in conversation with a stranger at the airport or while waiting in a queue or in a room? Chances are you won’t recall because you were more than likely giving your full attention to your smartphone.
According to an article in The Telegraph, ‘9 ways to start (and stick to) a digital detox’, published in June 2016:
• The average person checks their phone 200 times a day – that’s once every six and a half minutes
• 73% of Brits say they’d struggle to go a day without checking their phone or computer
• One in four people spend more time online than they do asleep
• 70% of 16-24-year-olds say they prefer texting to talking
• The average teenager sends 3,400 electronic messages a month from their bed.
As an entrepreneur, your phone is probably your lifeline. You need it to answer and make calls, check the internet for updates…in fact, if you are a net savvy person, all your work is probably getting done on the worldwide web. Which means that you are glued to either your computer or your phone. And since working hours have become more fluid, chances are that you continue working when you come home (i.e., if you are not working from home). There’s always that temptation to stay logged in. After all, a customer could reach out to you and you would want to reply immediately. Or your employee flags a problem and you want to fix it, even if it means staying up all night.
And if you are one of those who is not focused, you probably also while away your time on social media sites whenever you can sneak in some time. You promise yourself a quick peek at your Facebook or Twitter feed. The next thing you know is you’ve been drawn into it and an hour or so has gone by. Or, you don’t have time to check your social media through the day. So, at night, after dinner, you settle down to check all the photos and videos that you’ve missed out on during your busy work day. Or play all those games that you’ve been dying to play. And end up sleeping post midnight because you’ve been drawn into the virtual world and it’s kept you captive.
But digital addiction comes with a price. While in today’s world it’s impossible to do away with your devices, some caution and a little balance is required.
It’s bad for your health: You need the occasional digital detox because constant engagement with devices will tell on your health in the long run. Too much exposure to the digital world can cause anxiety and depression. This is more so if you look for validation in the virtual world. The number of likes or engagements with your social media posts are not a reflection of reality. I’ve also come across many friends and relatives who have developed tendinitis owing to excessive smartphone usage. It’s painful and debilitating, and requires medication, rest and excruciating physiotherapy.
It affects your sleep: The blue light from digital devices affects the production of melatonin, which in turn affects your sleep. It’s wise to stop checking devices at least two hours before you wind down for the day. Adequate sleep is a must for good health as outlined in our article: Why You Need a Good Night’s Sleep.
There’s a very real chance of addiction: If you feel a constant need to check your phone, if you can’t do without your phone for even a few minutes, if you find yourself tuning out on social conversations around you…you could be addicted to your phone. And, like any addiction, it is bad for your mental and physical well-being. Studies have shown that overuse of smartphones is an addiction that causes neurological changes in the brain similar to habit-forming opioid painkillers. Internet addiction is being recognized as a disorder. And, if you are addicted, especially to social media sites, it’s not just your health but also your business that gets affected. After all, instead of working, you are indulging in scrolling social media sites, thereby affecting your productivity.
If you value your health and your business, you need to look at periodic digital detox to get your mind and body in the right frame. Try it, it’s not that difficult and you’ll be surprised at how much you enjoy the real world after being immersed in virtual reality!