I can't tell you how many amazing memories I have from camping as a kid. I remember the fishing trips, the surfing, the crabbing, the beach days, the gold hunting, the bug hunting, the bead heads, the campfire smell... And the grimy, dirty dustiness of it all. There's a freedom that comes with camping, where routines fall by the wayside (and so do showers), and it becomes a time of connection and exploration.
Recently I joined a couple of mom friends on a mommy and kid camping trip. We loaded up our cars and heading into Big Sur, California, for three days to disconnect from the world and reconnect with our kids. There was no cell service, no internet, and no electricity, which forced us to be captivated and present in each moment.
We emerged, tried, smelly, dirty, and achy, but the adventure was worth every bug bite, and sleepless night. Most surprisingly, when modern distractions were taken away and made unattainable, we no longer thought about them or wanted them.
Technology has some incredible benefits, however, it is becoming increasingly apparent that society is developing an unhealthy attachment to it. While I highly recommend a camping trip in nature as a wonderful remedy to disconnect from the world, sometimes that is not obtainable for everyone.
Here are 5 scientific reasons you may want to inject some 'unplugging' into the daily rhythm of your lives.
YOUR OVERALL QUALITY OF LIFE MAY IMPROVE:
In a study from the University of Maryland, researchers discovered that when students went on a 24 hr detox from the technology they spent more time with friends and family, got more exercise, and even cooked and ate healthier foods. In short, the less time they spent on their phones gave them more time to spend on quality interactions elsewhere!
YOU MIGHT SLEEP BETTER:
The vast majority of Americans – 96% – now own a cellphone of some kind. Data from a 2013 study by PEW Research Center shows that 44% of people sleep with their phones by their sides because they do not want to miss a message or notification. That is almost 40 % of the American population being woken up intermittently by messages, tweets, emails, etc, in the middle of the night. Which accounts for a lot of grumpy Americans. By placing your phone in another room when you go to sleep, it will allow your body to disconnect properly, recharge, and get a restful night's sleep.
UNPLUGGING AFTER WORK HELPS YOU RECHARGE:
Researchers from Kansas State University found that when people "unplugged" from work-related tasks, such as checking their work email after hours, they reported feeling fresher and better recharged when beginning work the following day. Findings indicate that segmenting work and non-work roles can help employees detach and recover from work demands. For anyone who has ever experienced burn-out at work, this isn't too surprising. So when you leave your place of employment, leave the work obligations at the door!
UNPLUGGING MAY IMPROVE YOUR INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATIONS:
A 2013 study points out unplugging from technology might benefit your in-person communication and interpersonal relationships because it encourages you to communicate outside of the screen- and text-based medium. It also suggests that sharing too much on social media may negatively impact your interpersonal relationships. While technology makes communication fast & convenient, it also removes body language and tone, which helps us form bonds. In short, human interaction is better for us than interaction through technology.
YOU MAY FEEL HAPPIER:
Disconnecting from technology helps remove feelings of jealousy, envy, and loneliness. Researchers discovered that one in three people felt worse after visiting Facebook and more dissatisfied with their lives. The most common cause of frustration came from users comparing themselves socially to their peers, while the second most common source of dissatisfaction was "lack of attention" from having fewer comments, likes and general feedback compared to friends. Powering-down will provide you with the opportunity to reset and refocus your appreciation and gratitude on the life you have.