How To Switch Off From Technology (And How It Will Benefit Your Wellbeing)

How To Switch Off From Technology (And How It Will Benefit Your Wellbeing)

Whether lost, listening to music, keeping in touch with friends or just desperate to Instagram your spaghetti bolognese - your smartphone or device, lightweight and fitting snuggly into your hand like a cashmere glove, is all you need to do... well... anything.

The flip-side of this new-found, much-loved convenience is, of course, addiction.

Raise your hand if you've ever scrolled through Facebook in your pitch-black bedroom until the early hours or rolled over to check your work emails/Instagram/Twitter feed first thing in the morning.

Yeah, we thought as much.

"Phones are such an intrinsic part of everything we do," says Poorna Bell, HuffPost UK Lifestyle editor speaking to HuffPost Live. "But people just don't have boundaries."

Just like any other addiction, being glued to our screens 24/7 isn't without consequences.

We spoke to Dr David Hamilton, author of How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body, to find out the benefits of switching off.

And, for those who love their phone more than their own parents, we've got some easy-to-follow tips on how to get some screen sense.

Benefits Of Switching Off

1) Gives the mind a rest so we're less stressed

Having instant and constant access to news, information, etc, means we rarely give our minds a rest. The mind and body need rest.

We're being bombarded with information all day so we need to switch off for the sake of our own health, otherwise there's more likelihood of us getting stressed throughout the day.

Stress takes it's toll on health - of the heart and blood vessels, but also plays a role in just about all illnesses.

2) We get better sleep quality

Sleep quality if affected by what's on our minds.

We absorb so much negative content when we read the news on a smartphone or tablet last thing at night. It affects many people's sleep quality so they end up waking up in the morning not feeling rested and refreshed.

3) It's better for our relationships

Many relationships suffer because we spend so much time online that we talk much less. Many couples even have their smartphones on the table while they are, supposedly, enjoying a romantic meal.

Switching off gets us back to connecting with one another face-to-face again.

4) It can make us happier

Social network research shows that the more good quality relationships we have the happier we tend to be.

Many people develop a lot of their relationships online and not face-to-face. Some take pride in the number of 'friends' they have on Facebook, yet the amount of face-to-face time they enjoy with friends declines.

There is no substitute for face-to-face contact. We're wired to benefit from connecting with one another. Face-to-face contact is actually good for the cardiovascular system.

Depriving ourselves of this at the expense of being online is not so healthy for us, mentally and physically.

How To Switch Off

1) Just decide

Sometimes just knowing that being switched 'on' all the time is detrimental to our mental and physical health, and also that of our relationships, is a motivating factor for people to just decide to switch off more.

2) Set some rules

It's beneficial in relationships and in families to set some rules. Without boundaries, many people just default into switching on all day and night.

Rules can be, 'no phones or tablets at the dinner table', 'no internet in the bedroom', or 'no internet during lunch', for instance.

Sometimes, just these little rules can be a relief because many people just switch on out of boredom, so rather than rest they're bombarding themselves with more information. Rules give us an information break and let us get more from our real downtime.

It feels good knowing that when you go to bed, for instance, the day's work is over because that's the rule.

3) Challenge yourself

If you're really up for it, challenge yourself to go one day a week without switching on. It might be hard at first but it will become easier if you keep it up a day a week for few weeks.

You'll then realise that it's actually not that difficult and it feels really good. It feels relaxing. It's like a little holiday - a day off.