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Is it Time to Unplug? How to Disconnect Yourself from Your Devices to Reconnect with Life

How many hours do you spend plugged into devices each day?

Zoom, Teams, Email, Social Media, Netflix, Kindle ... the list goes on and on.

Is it time to be more mindful of our screen time?

We do it with children so why do we not take the same advice as adults?

The boundaries between offline and online have become blurred.

One of the impacts of COVID19 has been a significant increase in device usage. Technology has evolved and developed to accommodate us being able to work online and from our homes, and social media and messaging apps have allowed us to stay connected with those we have not been able to see in person.

The way we are interacting has changed, and 'Zoom' fatigue feels very real. Researchers at Stanford University have released an article recently that details why we feel this fatigue, and it isn't just 'Zoom' specific, it is the way in which we are interacting with people online that is having an impact. As we start to move forward out of this pandemic we will be in a position where we can start to re-introduce in-person meetings and online video calls will become more of an option amongst other choices.

Information is at our disposal, however, wrapped up in the information we have a mix of misinformation and disinformation. With pressure on platforms to fact check and remove #fakenews articles it is on us, as users to fact check, and be more conscious of the information that we engage with and absorb.

Media appeals to an emotional response, often fear and panic, whether it is clickbait headlines or dramatic storylines, the information is produced and released in a way to get us to stop scrolling and view what has been posted.

We do not have to be present at a location to be impacted and affected by what we see online. We rarely get given a 'trigger warning' and the user has to proactively change the settings to switch off potential harmful media.

As humans we have a 'negativity bias' it means that we are more likely to 'tune into' negative content first. It is part of the fight, flight, and freeze survival instinct to look for risk, to keep us safe.

It means that we see more, focus more, respond more and reflect more on negative experiences. When we are online, our brain does not differentiate that we are seeing this from a safe space, the emotions that are triggered by what we see are very real and the impact and effect are very real.

We need to be mindful of what we consume online. It is important to safeguard your headspace and protect that safe space of our private and personal space. When we are at home this is, for most people, the safe space in which they can relax and wind down. Bringing content online that triggers powerful responses such as fear and panic into our homes and heads can have a very real impact.

We scroll so quickly through content and platforms that we often do not take the time to analyse and interpret the information we are absorbing, and often we can feel powerless to the information that we are seeing and taking in.

Detaching ourselves from our devices and being mindful of what we are plugging ourselves into, can make a big difference to our mental and emotional health.

A good balance is different for different people. Some of us are reliant on devices for work and so our capacity to be online after work hours is possibly less than those who are not in front of a screen for work.

Screen time is not all negative. Technical devices and platforms have enabled us to stay socially connected whilst we have been physically distanced, it has enabled businesses to remain operational whilst people have worked from home and it has enabled us to work smarter.

What is a good balance for you? Here are 5 things to consider:

Draining battery - Draining your energy

As devices evolve, one of the most frequent complaints is how efficient the battery is (or isn't) and how quickly it drains. Our energy levels work in a similar way, and in the same way that some apps on devices drain the battery more quickly than others, some platforms or accounts will drain our personal energy batteries quicker than others.

Pay attention to your energy levels, be mindful of how you feel as you use the device. Choose the apps that hold your 'battery life' and don't drain your energy levels. Where you have less choice, then work to reduce the amount of time spent on them.

Time Lost - Time Gained

How much time are you losing by mindless scrolling? What could you be doing instead?

We all wish for more hours in the day, how many minutes, or even hours could you reclaim if you reduced the amount of mindless scrolling time?

There are a number of apps for ios, android and desktops that will help monitor screentime. Individual apps often also have a monitor built-in so that you get a notification when the limit that you have set has been reached.

Do you have a preference for an app that helps with this? Please share with us in the comments below.

For what purpose? Breaking the habit

When you pick up your device ask yourself why?

Is it a habit, or is it for a specific purpose?

Many of us pick up our phones at certain times as part of a routine and habit, not for any particular reason, 'just because'.

Help break the pattern, put the device in a different place, even in a different room.

When trying to remove a negative habit, create obstacles that make it more difficult for you to do what you normally do. Create a new positive habit that you want to replace it with, and make this an easier alternative to switch to.

As an example, if you are trying to reduce the amount of time spent on a certain app then log out each time so that it takes a little longer to log in, or even consider deleting the app from your device so you have to log in from a desktop or from the browser.

When you log in to the device be conscious of the reason why. Say out loud, "I am just logging in to do x,y,z". When this task is completed log back out again.

If you want to scroll to check a newsfeed or timeline set yourself an amount of time before logging back out again.

Make the actions purposeful.

How do you feel - informed, inspired, motivated?

Check-in with how you feel when you log out of an app or platform. Do you feel positive, energised, informed, inspired or motivated, or do you feel the complete opposite and negative?

Is it the app or platform in general, or is it the content on the timeline, the people or the pages you are following?

Have a spring clean. Clean out the negativity and be mindful of quality over quantity.

Your time and energy is a valuable resource, use it wisely.

Switch on the Smart bit

Smartphones have great functionality that helps us to use the devices in a way that works for us.

Night lights or blue filters help our brains to register that it is the evening and helps us to prepare for sleep.

Notifications can be switched off, permanently, or during set times of the day. Notifications draw your attention to the device so if this is creating a distraction then switch them off and take control of when 'you' want to pick it up.

Mute certain words, hashtags or accounts that you consider high risk for triggers for you.

The DND - Do not disturb is also a great way to take control of when your phone can interrupt you with notifications and calls. You can set them up to allow certain people to get through or set rules to make it work with you.

Finally, the airplane mode. Ignorance is bliss, switch it all off and give yourself some breathing space.

It doesn't have to be a smart device if you make smart choices.

Is the way in which you are using your devices helping you to get to where you want to be?

Is it helping you to move closer to your goals or to the person you are working to become?

#NationalDayofUnplugging - First Friday in March every year

On the first Friday in March, National Day of Unplugging, kicks off a 24 hour period from sundown to sundown, to unplug, unwind, relax and do things other than using today’s technology, electronics, and social media.

Not so easy in a National Lockdown, however not impossible.

If 24hrs is too much start with an hour or two and make that first step.

If you were to unplug, what would you like to reconnect with?

(Would love you to share below!)


If you have found yourself disconnected from the life you want to live then I would love to have a chat with you to see how Coaching may help. You can book in a free, no-obligation call HERE.

For more free resources to help you create the tomorrow you want while learning to love your today check the website

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