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The Benefits of Plugging Out

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I love my smartphone. Scratch that – I love technology. It’s easy to curl up on the couch and binge watch the newest season of Orange is the New Black. I have lost many hours that I will never get back on Buzzfeed. For a long time, it was not uncommon for me to fall asleep as I scrolled through Pinterest or to wake up and grab my phone off the nightstand to check my Instagram feed.

I did this for years before I realized – or accepted – that the way I used my smartphone was contributing to my restless nights and high stress levels. Even now I catch myself reaching for my iPhone to scroll through my Facebook newsfeed while I’m lying in bed or sitting at Starbucks with friends. No one is perfect. The important part is realizing when your technology use has become a problem and then doing something about it.

However, before you make any changes to your relationship with technology, I want you to be able to make an educated decision about plugging out. Below are some of the many benefits of keeping your laptop away from your bed or leaving your phone in your bag.

1. You will sleep better at night. I wouldn’t hesitate to go so far as to say this is the most common advice people give in relation to unplugging. If you haven’t heard this before, you probably don’t have a phone or a laptop, so no one has ever felt the need to convince you to keep your phone across the room when you’re sleeping. Several studies have shown that turning off your electronics at least 30 minutes before you go to bed is related to a dramatic improvement in sleep quality.

2. Your interpersonal skills will improve dramatically. From the minute texting, Facebook messaging, and tweeting became popular forms of communication, people have worried that this loss of face-to-face communication will affect the next generations ability to communicate effectively in person. It turns out those worries were justified. Hiring managers and human behavioral experts have reported that the generations of people who grow up with these new forms of communication are more likely to think it’s okay to use their phones during social and work events and they tend to have a harder time communicating effectively in job interviews.

3. Your stress levels will decrease. There’s no getting around it: being connected to your text messages, e-mail, and social media twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week is stressful. It’s difficult to relax when your phone or computer constantly has new notifications popping up, letting you know your co-worker needs another favor or your boss sending you another item to had to your to-do list the next. When you step away from technology, even for 30 minutes, and go outside, read a book, or play a game with your kids, you can feel your stress levels decline. Putting down your phone or stepping away from the computer allows you to prioritize, put things in perspective, and let go of the little things that might have been contributing to unnecessary stress.

4. You will be more productive. Considering how much of what we to do today is online, it might seem counterintuitive to step away from technology in order to get more done. However, anyone who has ever gotten on the computer to respond to a quick e-mail knows how easy it is to get sidetracked and start checking your Facebook newsfeed, which leads to scrolling through an article – or ten – on Buzzfeed. By unplugging, that temptress called the Internet doesn’t have the power to distract you, so you will find yourself being more productive than ever.

5. You will feel more connected than ever. Disconnecting from technology will make you feel more connected to your life and the people around you than social media ever could. It might seem like checking status updates on Facebook or seeing what everyone is doing via Instagram is keeping you connected to the important parts of life, but it’s actually keeping you from connecting with the most important part: the world that’s right in front of you, not the “world” on your screen.

Have you ever plugged out of technology? What benefits did you see?

- Brittany Silva

(“The Benefits of Plugging Out” was originally shared on the PlugOut Today blog.)

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