Science-Backed Reasons to Mindfully Unplug

Science-Backed Reasons to Mindfully Unplug

Do you make an effort to turn all of your buzzing, pinging, ringing, and flashing electronics off for a few hours every day? A lot of people who lead busy lives would probably say “nope” to that.

The convenience and distractive appeal of smartphones have turned our 24/7 connection status into one of the biggest trends of our time. Your yoga and meditation practice are great excuses to put your smartphone and other devices out of sight and out of mind, but it would be beneficial to go without them as often as you can — on your days off, when socializing with people directly in person, in the morning after you get up, at night before you go to bed, and anytime you need to “wind down” from a busy day or event.

Here are a few scientific facts about how our lives are impacted by all the devices we rely on so much and so often nowadays. Let them inspire you to be more mindful about your browsing and texting habits.

Always Disruptive Notifications

Smartphone notifications are pretty much meant to be distracting, but researchers from Florida State University found that they can even be detrimental to people’s attention and task performance when they didn't pick up their phone immediately to directly interact with them. So even if you can ignore those pings and buzzes, your smartphone is still a distraction.

Face-To-Face Communication Interference

Just the sight of your smartphone could have an impact on your relationships with others. In one study where two people carried on a conversation for 10 minutes, those who had their phones sitting on a table in front of them while they chatted described feeling less close to the person they were chatting with compared to people who chatted without their smartphones in front of them.

Mental Health Issues and Sleep Deprivation

Researchers examined the smartphone habits of over 300 university students and found that those who fell under the “high smartphone use” category experienced more depression, anxiety, and daytime dysfunction. Sleep quality was also impacted, possibly stemming from anxiety and depression caused by smartphone overuse.

A Vehicle for Procrastination

Smartphones don’t exactly cause people to procrastinate, but they certainly do help them do it longer and more often. We now have an attention span of eight seconds (down from 12 in the year 2000), and the average American checks in to their smartphone a whopping 46 times a day.

Ways to Mindfully Unplug

The first step in mindfully unplugging involves just noticing how you’re using your smartphone and/or other devices. In fact, you don’t even need to pull yourself away from them right away if you feel a strong desire to keep browsing, keep texting, or keep doing whatever it is you want to do.

Just work on increasing your awareness as you continue going about your business. Notice how your mind loves the distraction and constantly wants more. This alone can be healing. Then, after a while, you may want to start replacing your device usage with some of the following activities instead (in addition to yoga and meditation):

Say a mantra. Do this to be intentional about how you really want to spend your time.

Go outside. Getting outside even for a short walk is extremely healthy for the body and the mind.

Listen to music. Music is calming and can be a great mood booster.

Do some journaling. Journaling is therapeutic and incredibly effective at organizing thoughts.

Help someone. Admit it — helping others out feels good! Here are a few simple ways you can give more.