Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram taking over your life? Unfortunately, all that screen time can zap your ability to connect with the people around you — namely your family and friends. Power down for a day and remember what it’s like to live unplugged.
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Challenge: go tech-free
Why? Screen addiction is a growing problem that can have a negative effect on relationships and physical and mental health. Stepping away from the screen offers an opportunity to reconnect with the people and things that matter most.
Lauren: A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics found that cell phones are basically ruining our relationships with our kids. Plastic surgeons say neck procedures are way up, since we are always looking down at our phone. (It’s even been dubbed “Tech Neck.”) Even knowing that, I was still panicked to go tech-free, even for just a few hours. I work in TV news, so I have no fewer than 500 emails on my phone waiting to be read at any given moment. I have always loved Instagram, but since starting my blog I am even more social-media obsessed.
But on Sunday I set my phone to silent and put it down — for the entire afternoon. I decided to take my son to Toys “R” Us since he wanted to spend his tooth-fairy money. Since I wasn’t checking my emails at red lights, I actually talked to my 5-year-old. We discussed what he wanted to buy, how cool it was that the tooth fairy left behind fairy dust (sparkles), and he told me he loves it when we get to run errands with just the two of us. I was thrilled to get back on my phone, but that time without it was great, and something I will try more often. But first, let me take a selfie.
Nora: I am one of those people who wakes up in the morning and checks my phone, eyes half-closed as I lie in bed. This immediately starts my day in a stressful state, since I am going through work emails and thinking of all the things I have to do. Taking this challenge to go tech-free for a day was the best thing I could have done for myself. It was very difficult at times, but made me realize how much I am missing when I go from place to place trying to catch up on everything with my phone. Sometimes we need to take a look around and just be present in the moment. I will no longer be checking my phone first thing. I will now take 10 minutes to do yoga, meditate or read before my day begins. This will start the day off right and give me the peace of mind that I was missing.
Akilah: I knew this challenge would be the hardest of them all. When I was asked to challenge myself to a day without technology I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult. Twitter goes down all the time and I have loads of books to read.
This was not the case.
I tasked myself with spending a full day (starting at midnight) away from my cell phone and computer. Use of light bulbs and the microwave were, however, permitted. I slept in until about 11:30 a.m. that Sunday, which was perfect because I had already knocked out almost half of the challenge. But it was immediately made almost impossible by having to shut off the alarm on my phone. I saw the notifications for missed texts, emails, tweets, Instagram followers, Snapchats, etc. and I knew that I had to just close the phone and pay no mind. My solution was to put the phone on silent and leave it in my room.
The day dragged by. The two minutes it took to microwave my lunch felt like an eternity without my cell phone. I read a bit from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and thought of funny tweets I could post. I was jonesing… bad. By 3:30 p.m. I wanted to take a nap to stave off the boredom. I cleaned every part of my apartment, walked to donate clothes to the Salvation Army, rearranged my living room — and still had another 6 1/2 hours to go. So right at 6 p.m., I gave up. I grabbed my laptop, I checked my cell phone and plugged back into the world. It was wonderful. I like powering down and relaxing while on vacation in tropical locales with exotic foods, but to be without tech in New York City is just depressing. I’m happily addicted to the internet.
Marcy: It’s amazing how disconnecting even for just a couple hours is so freeing. As a busy freelancer, I am in constant contact with my phone. This challenge forced me to disconnect and leave things to later for once. With the constant influx of text, emails and tweets, it seems we are always communicating about something. I rushed out of the house early a few mornings ago with no phone and it was amazing how free I felt. Whether it’s a day or just an hour, read a book, unplug and go tech-free to find some #EverydayInspiration.
Our Everyday Inspiration series wants to inspire you with small ways to improve your life. We’ve asked 20 women to take on a variety of small challenges and share their results. See all of our Everyday Inspiration challenges here, and meet the women here.