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Take the Unplugged Challenge

Technology is everywhere. Most of us come in contact with technology on a daily basis. From beeping cell phones to the vibrating sounds of notifications, electronic devices demand our attention. According to a Pew Research Center study, 64% of American adults now own a smartphone. Smartphone usage is even higher among younger Americans, and those with higher levels of income and education levels.

People today can communicate with each other at a faster rate than ever before. But, this type of instant connection can have negative emotional effects. Burnout and depression are common symptoms of those who spend a lot of time online. The pressure to always be available online can cause similar feelings. It can also decrease sleep quality for teenagers, according to a study presented at a British Psychological conference in Manchester.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there are three main signs of burnout:

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Alienation from (job-related) activities
  • Reduced performance

There are ways to combat an addiction to the Internet. A movement called the “Unplugged Challenge” encourages people to refrain from using any form of technology. This challenge can be difficult for most people to accomplish. Do not feel pressured to quit cold turkey. Gradually decrease your time spent on devices by trying these 10 techniques.

10 Get Physically Active

Children today spend more time indoors than playing outside. A nationwide poll from the Nature Conservancy found that only 10 percent of children spend their time outdoors. Lack of access and a lack of interest in nature were the children’s reasons for not going outside.

Medical professionals are concerned because social interaction is vital for healthy development, especially for infants and toddlers. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended parents to prohibit screen time for children 0-2 years old. Children in this age group need plenty of face-to-face interactions with attentive parents or caregivers. AAP’s new guidelines are a sign of the times.

You can ensure your family’s health by signing up for a family membership at a gym. Your local YMCA may have a variety of classes that your whole family can enjoy. The health benefits of being physically active outweigh a sedentary lifestyle glued to a screen.

Walking is another alternative to surfing the Internet all day. It is free and can reap emotional benefits. Walking in nature, for example, has shown to lower heart rate, reduce stress levels, and improve the quality of sleep.

Dancing works wonders at relieving stress, too. Moving your body to the rhythm of beat acts a great distractor from the outside world. Focus on how you feel and be mindful of the positive energy that emits from your inner being.

9 Limit Time on Devices

There are apps that track your time-spent on devices. These apps allow you to pinpoint the sites where you spend the most time, i.e. Facebook, e-mails, etc. Make a point to set a time limit on these social outlets. You can even block access from certain sites.

Consider putting away all technical devices during dinnertime. Get your family involved by enacting a no cell phone rule. Family board games or other low-tech activities can offset boredom.

Make a point to call family or friends instead of relying on text messaging. Turn off notifications and restrict cell phone usage before bedtime. Use social media for communication only when necessary.

8 Join a Challenge

Joining an Unplugged Challenge holds you accountable for your actions. You don’t have to go it alone. Enlist your friends and family to jump on board with you. After the challenge, regroup to discuss individual experiences.

Hold each other accountable. A support system is vital when you’re tempted to reach for your phone or scroll online. Lean on your support system and encourage one another.

You can also measure your progress in this challenge. Keeping track of how well you’re holding up is a positive reminder of how far you’ve come through the no tech journey.

7 Keep It Simple

Use your time spent surfing on the web to get in touch with simpler living. There are simple activities you can do from home. All it takes is a will to get back to the basics.

Reading is a simple pleasure that anyone can enjoy. It can provide more intellectual stimulation than a robotic generator can ever provide. Make a visit to your local library and check out books that interest you. Book genres are endless, so there is something for everyone. If reading is not conducive to your lifestyle, consider audio books.

Expanding your intellect allows creativity to flow. Painting and drawing are other healthy distractions from technology. Adult coloring books are an increasing trend that helps others cope with depression. These coloring books are found at most major retail outlets.

6 Leave Your Device At Home

It’s hard to imagine being without your cell phone, but leaving your device at home instantly unplugs you from the online world. You won’t have to worry about endless notifications or other distractions.

The National Day of Unplugging pledge begins on March 4-5 2016. Just by signing the pledge, you’ll receive a free cell phone sleeping bag. There’s also a list of unplugging resources to help guide you.

The pledge starts from sunrise to sundown. It is an idea that is influenced by the Sabbath Manifesto, an ancient testament. This belief encourages people to take one day out of the week to connect with nature and loved ones. Although the idea has Jewish roots, you do not have to be Jewish in order to take part in the pledge.

5 Setup Meet-ups

Face-to-face meet-ups are personal get-togethers among family or friends. It is a chance to really connect. Skip the hassle of typing an email. Pick up a phone instead and call up a friend to hang out.

Body language is an important aspect of communication. Technology cannot convey a person’s exact feelings. Sometimes, text messages are misconstrued. The best way to avoid this issue is to meet people in person.

Maintain eye contact when conversing. Refrain from snapping pictures, text messaging or scrolling through your cell phone. Ask questions to show that you are engaged in the conversation. Make comments when appropriate. 

4 Media Detox

Taking a hiatus from social media accounts purifies your mental and emotional state. Consider closing your social media accounts temporarily. You can regain access by simply logging back into your account when you’re ready.

Evaluate media outlets to decide if they bring you pleasure or pain. Newspapers, magazines, and other daily news outlets influence people in subtle ways. Refrain from watching anything that affects you in a negative way. Some people have cancelled their television cable in an effort to detox their mind from negative press.

Screen-Free Week is an annual, international celebration when families, schools, and communities forgo digital entertainment to enjoy life’s simple pleasures like reading, writing, exercising, etc. The celebration begins May 2-8, 2016. Participants are encouraged to reduce their digital entertainment consumption.

You can choose to engage in positive activities like reading, writing, or exercising. Decide on how long you will commit to these changes and stick with it. Always forgive yourself if you fall off the bandwagon. Just pick up where you left off.

3 Explore Real Life

It’s easy to click through photos online. Perhaps you are interested in a place you saw online that you would like to visit in person. In a way, you are living in a fantasy. Pictures are worth a thousand words, but nothing compares to seeing places in real life.

Instagram is a prime example of capturing life through a fictional lens. Many pictures found on social media sites are edited and cropped which can distort our perception of reality. These types of settings are oftentimes overused, which creates a false sense of reality.

Explore cities or even countries you’ve always wanted to visit. Go and see these places for yourself. True beauty is captured through your senses. Take your eyes off the screen and center them on nature instead.

2 Meditation

Mindfulness is the intentional concentration on the emotional and mental state. Being aware of these social cues is an important key to connecting with others. Practicing mindfulness helps take away attention from worldly things and connects us to human interaction.

Benefits of Mindfulness:

  • Improves mental and physical health
  • Treats heart disease
  • Helps with anxiety disorders
  • Better coping with depression
  • Controls substance abuse
  • Improves relationships
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves sleep

Yoga is a helpful exercise to help you achieve mindfulness. This type of exercise requires you to focus on breathing and your thinking. Yoga has numerous other benefits that can improve your quality of life.

Breathing exercises are another form of meditation. Experts claim that breathing exercises bring immediate results. They significantly reduce blood pressure and lower stress levels. As a result, you will feel more focused and lighter. 

1 Start a Journal

Journaling is an effective tool of expression. It helps you put things in perspective. Writing your thoughts can emotionally benefit you. Grab a notebook and get to writing out all of your thoughts.

You don’t need to be a professional writer. The goal of journaling is to awaken your creativity. You can determine how often to write in your journal.

Gratitude journals are popular among writers. To create a gratitude journal, simply write down everything you’re grateful for in your life. Its purpose is to make you feel more appreciative of life’s blessings. It also is a great reminder of other important areas in your life besides the online world.

Benefits of gratitude journals:

  • Increases happiness
  • More appreciative
  • Increases self-awareness
  • Lowers stress levels
  • Calmer state
  • Clarity
  • Improves mood

There is no right or wrong approach to unplugging. The ultimate goal is to nurture real life relationships and exit online world. Great minds created technology to help not to control every aspect of living. Remember that the next time you feel constrained to your computer or cell phone.

Most importantly, have fun doing the unplugged challenge. Strive to embrace moments with friends and family. It can be a very beneficial factor to spending more time engaging with loved ones. The online world will always be around. So what are you waiting for? Put down your cell phone, go out, and live.

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