People talk about Digital Detox—dramatically reducing time spent with email, social and news media, and digital entertainment via computer, tablet or phone.
I’ve “been there” on digital addiction, and I’m now a strong advocate of reducing time spent looking at a screen. We can use the time for a more well-rounded mix of things, including fitness.
Reclaiming 30, 60 or more minutes a day is a great goal, but it’s also important to detox 60-second “interludes” that happen throughout the day.
Digital Hijack Short “Interludes” That Should Relax and Restore Us
Waiting for an elevator, in line for coffee…even at a red light…with the briefest of lulls in physical motion or mental tasks, we feel compelled to grab our smartphones. In one decade of smartphone history, this instinct has become as ingrained as eons-old ones, like a dog following “prey drive” to chase a ball.
Imagine how the mobile ad industry looks at this: “We’ve conditioned these schmucks to look at their phones every single time they have a spare moment!” Or corporate management: “Excellent…email is always getting read and answered.”
I’ve consciously resolved to look at my phone much less often—and I still find my hand involuntarily retrieving phone from pocket, and have to stop myself. This is a powerful habit, brothers.
While it might feel “productive” or prevent feeling “bored,” cramming quick digital distractions or work tasks into every spare moment is not good for us. We become blind to the world around us…forget to take pleasure in small things…eliminate the chance to simply think and regroup.
Five Healthy Things To Do (Instead of Looking at Your Phone!)
Seriously, I urge you, try one or more of these. When you get to three, four, five times a day that you don’t grab your phone, you’ll notably lower your stress level and have more small moments of happiness. And over the long haul, those are vital things, man. Please don’t pooh-pooh this without at least thinking about it!
1. Work on your posture. Stand up straight, with the crown of your head drawn toward the ceiling and your shoulders pulled back and then down away from your ears. Pull your belly button toward your spine, and think of your feet pushing down on the ground.
Working on posture every day is good for the “mechanical” part of your long-term health…but it also simply makes you feel better in the short term.
2. Focus on your breathing. Try 5-7 cycles of a deep inhale for about four seconds, a brief breath-hold, then a slow exhale for four seconds. You will literally reduce your pulse and create other physiological benefits from this simple exercise. Here’s more on the benefits of controlled breathing.
3. Stretch. Put your hands straight overhead, grab one wrist with the opposite hand, and gently bend sideways toward the grabbing hand’s side. Hold that for a few seconds and then do the other side. Lean forward with mainly-straight legs and move your hands toward your toes. Let gravity pull you down for a little while (sure, “touch your toes” if you can, but it’s the direction that matters, not the extent).
I know—you’ll feel weird stretching like this if you’re visibly “in public.” But I’ve been doing it and no one has shaved my head or thrown me in jail yet. People are watching us—or care about stuff like this—less than we think.
4. Reflect on your priorities for the rest of the day, tomorrow, this week. I’m not just talking about work stuff, but also about things you should do to nurture relationships and things you should do for yourself.
But within the “work” part, these little interludes are often when creativity and problem-solving occur. But not if you’re thumbing through your Facebook feed for the eighth time today, dude.
5. Look around. There are interesting things to see. Maybe a beautiful sunrise or sunset, or cool-looking clouds overhead. Maybe make eye contact and exchange smiles with someone (or even have a short conversation!) There’s often “community” all around us, if we just look up and participate in it.
I know I risk sounding like a Wellness Zealot here. But I’ve been consciously doing this recently and it really does help you feel more relaxed, and even more “human.” And in turn, these small doses of mood boosting make you more productive for the rest of your day’s endeavors.
There are many other good things to do—this is just a starter list. Anything that helps free yourself from the Wellness-sapping dependency on quick digital fixes…DO IT!
“You were only waiting for this moment to be free.” (The Beatles, Blackbird – click to listen)