Phones, laptops, e-readers, tablets, video-game
consoles… the average Aussie home has a lot of tech going on. The current count
stands at 13.7 connected devices in each of our homes. By the year 2021, tech
research company Telsyte predicts that number to hover around 30.
For every additional device, and the attention it
commands, our physical activity suffers. According to the Department of Health,
nearly one in three adults is insufficiently
active (less than 150 minutes’ exercise in a week) while almost one in seven do
no exercise. The seven diseases most closely linked to physical inactivity are
some of Australia’s heaviest hitters: diabetes, breast, bowel and uterine
cancers, dementia, coronary heart diseases and stroke.
Time to DisconnectSo clearly,
our addiction to technology is not doing us much good. That’s why a digital
detox may be one of the best things we can do for ourselves. It’s a chance to
take ourselves off the grid (even for a short amount of time) and reconnect
with both who we are, and to all of those around us.
“Human beings need moments of
silence and solitude – to rest and recharge; to think deeply and creatively; to
look inside and confront the big questions: Who am I? How do I fit into the
world? What is the meaning of life?” says Carl Honoré, author of The Slow
Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter and Live Better In A Fast-Moving World.
‘always on’ also makes it hard to stop and stare, to smell the proverbial
roses. We miss the details, the fine grain of the world around us when our eyes
are glued to a screen. We lose the joy of discovering things on our own, or by
chance, when we stick to routes prescribed by a GPS download,” he explains. “When
travel involves firing off a stream of texts, tweets and audio-video footage to
friends and family back home, we never completely immerse ourselves in a new
Getting StartedTurning all your gadgets off
can be difficult, particularly when work demands so much interaction with them.
If you can, try getting out of the city – somewhere without wi-fi and where
service is patchy – and keep the phone out of sight and earshot. A weekend away
camping can be a great digital detox kick-start.
If going cold turkey is too
confronting, Honoré has a few hints on how to limit your screen time:
* Tell friends in advance when
you will be turning your gadgets off, and why, to avoid concern.
* Schedule outdoor activity
every day, and leave the smartphone behind. Nature acts as a soothing balm.
* Keep a diary or a running
count of your screen usage for a week. Often seeing in black and white how much
time we pour into technology is enough to make us scale back.
* Set aside half an hour of
screen-free time before bed and after waking up in the morning. This will give
you the time and space to shift out of ‘roadrunner’ mode and into a more
* Schedule in slots during the
day when you switch off the gadgets.
* Turn off your notifications
(Instagram, Whatsapp, etc). That way you decide when you see an update rather
than being constantly distracted.
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