When was the last time you unplugged? I mean completely. When did you last turn off all your devices – your laptop, your tablet, your TV, even (gasp!) your phone – and just went for a walk outside?
Been awhile, huh? Yeah, I thought so.
Trust me: it’s about time. Here are 8 solid, scientific reasons everyone needs to unplug and go outside once in a while.
1. Less Sitting, More Moving
Without a screen to entertain and distract you, you are much more likely to get up and get moving. Everyone knows that walking and exercise is good for you. But did you know that sitting is slowly killing you? Prolonged sitting causes illness, depression, obesity, and early death – and even exercise doesn’t counteract it.
If that doesn’t make you want to turn off the screen, and get up out of your chair, I don’t know what will.
2. It Helps You Relax
Constant use of social media increases stress levels, and can lead to feelings of envy, jealousy, and even a brand new psychological condition called FOMO (“fear of missing out”).
Who needs that? Unplug and go outside. Being outdoors is a natural stress reliever. Spending time outdoors, walking, running, playing sports, or even just sitting and watching the sunset, is a great way to relax and unwind.
3. You’ll Be Happier
Studies show that the more time you spend on social media, the unhappier you are. Whereas, being surrounded by Nature is an effective anti-depressant. It decreases sadness and “rumination,” and makes you feel better and happier.
So go take a stroll through the woods, a local park, or just spend some time in your own backyard. You’ll be glad you did.
4. Boosts Creativity
A Stanford University study found that walking measurably improves your creative thinking and ability to generate new ideas. So whenever you find yourself stuck, get up and go for a walk. It’s the perfect, moving brainstorming session.
Amazingly, walking benefits creativity regardless of your surroundings. A treadmill in the corner works just as well as an outdoor stroll. But you might as well go outside, and enjoy the other benefits mentioned above.
5. You’ll Sleep Better
The constant stimulation from our electronic devices keeps our minds wired and overactive – making it extremely difficult to unwind, and go to sleep. On top of that, the blue light that we get from our devices keeps us awake by affecting the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
For a good night’s sleep, shut off all your devices for at least one hour before bed. This gives your mind time to quiet down, and your body time to switch gears, so you can fall asleep faster, and get a better, more restful night’s sleep.
6. Get Some Perspective
How long can you sit still, before you compulsively reach for your phone, to check for messages and status updates? Can you make through a meal, or a movie? Can you sit for even five minutes, and simply watch the sunset, or listen to the birds singing?
Technology is addictive. And the only way to know if you have a problem is to go without it for awhile. Get some perspective. Find out if your use of digital devices has crossed the thin line between habit and addiction.
7. Improve Your Relationships
When was the last time you turned off all distractions and spent real, quality time with your best friend, or significant other? Or had a conversation with the person in front of you, without pulling out your phone to text someone else?
Relationship is all about being present and connected – not digitally, but biologically. Eye to eye, and face to face. Make time to be with the ones you love without distraction. Unplug and go outside together. Go for a walk, or just sit and look up at the stars.
That’s what relationship and intimacy is all about.
8. Be Present To Real Life
Capturing a moment for your social media followers comes at a cost: you’re not actually present, and enjoying the moment as it happens. You’re faking it, showing off how happy and awesome your life is, when you’re actually removed and disconnected from it.
Life doesn’t happen on Facebook. It happens all around you, every second of every day, and the more time you spend staring down at your screen, the more you’re missing it.
So do yourself a favor, and take control of your tech habits. Schedule specific times to go unplugged, especially when you first wake up in the morning, and an hour before bed; when you’re at the dinner table, or when you’re kids first come home from school.
Every now and then, unplug for an entire day (or longer) for a “digital detox.” Reset your brain, get some perspective, make distraction-free time for your loved ones, and go outside! Breathe in the fresh air, feel the sunlight on your skin…
Get out there and live.