We are increasingly connected in every moment of our waking day. From looking at our phones in the morning to check our messages, news, emails, and Facebook feeds, to our jobs where most of us are expected to simultaneously reply to emails, whilst answering the phone, and getting on with our work (I'm exhausted just writing it!).
Every time we hear that familiar 'ping' of a message coming through, it sends a fresh hit of dopamine to our brains, and we feel compelled to read it and respond.
There are few places that we can disconnect these days, even planes are increasingly offering connectivity to passengers at 35,000 feet. Many train networks, bus companies, and even the tube now offer WI-FI to passengers -leaving you no excuse not to be replying to your bosses email, or your friend's WhatsApp - no matter where you are!
It can make us feel less lonely - We can keep in contact with our families, and loved ones no matter where we are. This means we don't lose contact, and are able to live the lives we want to live whilst maintaining our relationships. We can also connect with people who have a similar worldview to us, and feel a part of the bigger picture.
We can work remotely (believe me I've taken advantage of this one!) - As the reach of the internet increases, there are many jobs that we don't need to be in one place to do. This means that increasingly, people are able to make their jobs fit in with their lives - whether that is being able to work from home looking after children, or tapping away at your keyboard from a beach in Thailand.
The world is a smaller place- There is no doubt that the accessibility of internet has had a huge part to play in the development and innovation that has taken place all over the world in recent decades. With more extensive internet coverage brings an exchange of skills, knowledge, and opportunities.
We spend all our time looking down and forget the people in front of us- How many times now do you see a family or friends in a restaurant, or on a train, looking down at their phones instead of talking to each other? We miss out on many of the special moments in life and the magic of human interaction by looking down at our phones, and missing out on life.
We are over- stimulated! -With emails to reply to, Facebook statuses to like, and WhatsApp threads to read, it's no wonder that we're more anxious than ever before. This has become so much of a problem in the western world that people are beginning to check themselves into internet 'rehab' clinics.
We are relying on constant approval - Increasingly we are living in a world where the engagement we get on social media determines how we feel about ourselves. In a world of edited photos and pre-thought out 'life moments', we are relying on others' 'likes' to tell us if what we are doing is good enough. This has become so much of a problem that social media addiction has now been defined as a mental health issue.
Focus on one task at a time - Whether this means turning your phone off when trying to focus on a piece of work, or when meeting a friend for a coffee, your brain will thank you if you give it a chance to BE PRESENT in the moment. It is not healthy, nor productive, to be in a constant state of distraction, and it will affect your enjoyment of the experience or task in front of you. Let your brain give one activity its full attention, and it will thank you.
Set limitations - Set yourself limitations on your connectivity throughout the day. Yes you CAN reply to emails wherever you are, but that doesn't mean that you SHOULD. Remember your mental health is the most important thing that you should be considering - you are no good to anyone if you're stressed and frazzled. Set yourself a time every night (at least one hour before bedtime) where you stop replying to messages using social media and surfing the internet. Your brain needs a chance to wind down and absorb the information it has received throughout the day. Reducing your stimulation for a few hours of the day allows it to do this.
Have a 'rest' day - It is well documented that some of the leading minds in technological innovation - the people whose lives revolve around the internet - give themselves 'unplugged' time. This is a day, or maybe even just an afternoon, where technology is left at home, and the focus is on getting outdoors and spending time with family and friends. This is a common theme throughout history, with many religions observing a Sabbath, or rest day.
As humans, we need a day off, to re-adjust, re-evaluate, and rejuvenate for the week ahead. If you think you don't have the time - that means you probably need it even more! So chill out, unplug, and connect with the world around you rather than your phone.