Everyone likes to feel connected, and our smart phones and tablets help us to do that. But too much connectivity may not be good for the brain. Being available anytime, anywhere can take a toll on your mental equilibrium.
When you stay glued to your devices, it can contribute to stress and anxiety. This is especially true if your devices keep you connected to your job even after you’ve gone home for the day.
Research has shown the need to mentally distance yourself from communication technologies such as smart phone and tablets when you’re not at work.
Being able to disconnect and be unavailable to the boss once in awhile is good for the brain, says psychologist Joseph Rock, Psy D.
“If you aren’t careful, you start losing track of the fact that you don’t want to be available all of the time or don’t have to respond to email at seven o’clock at night when it can wait until tomorrow morning at work,” Dr. Rock says. “The expectation of being available every minute of every day can be problematic.”
This feeling of always having to be quick to respond diminishes your ability to calm down and relax at the end of the day, which can take a toll on your state of mind, Dr. Rock says.
Try putting away the cell phone and tablet before dinner and at least an hour before bedtime, Dr. Rock says.
Teach your children to disconnect
The same advice goes for kids and teens. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says studies have linked cell phone use at night to problems with insomnia for teens.
High amounts of screen time also is associated with higher rates of childhood obesity, behavior problems, ADHD, poor physical activity and poor school performance among children.
The AAP recommends limiting screen time for children and teens to no more than one to two hours each day.
Live in the present
When you put down your cell phone, you become more aware of what’s going on around you. That makes you better able to enjoy your non-work time with friends and family, rather than worry about something that is happening elsewhere, Dr. Rock says.
“There needs to be a deliberate, mindful effort to say, ‘I’m done with this and now I’m going to do this, and if this stuff starts to creep in, I’m going to pull myself back into what I’m doing now,’” Dr. Rock says.
Dr. Rock says that if you’re having a tough time disconnecting, try to remind yourself about what is most important.
“Find a way to let your values dictate your behavior — not your devices,” he says.