Why I switch off, to stay switched on

If you have been following me for a while, then you will know that over the past year I have been making concerted efforts to slow down, be mindful and appreciate some of the simpler things in life that can get lost in the hustle and bustle of every day. One of the game changers for me in doing this was switching off technology and experiencing the result of doing so which for me included increased productivity, concentration and what felt like more time in my days.

Firstly, I want to take you back to one of the reasons why I started this blog. The original point of my blog and its name BodyMindFull, was to act as a play on words around the constant battle between myself (and I’m sure many others) and this noisy world full of information and stimulation and my desire to stay healthy and well whilst surrounded by this mayhem. BodyMindFull stands for my mind being full; full of information, full of clutter and full of contradictory health information from often non-health professionals that pollutes the internet, my phone and the news daily. BodyMindFull also stands for my body being full; full of food, full of immune blockers, full of symptoms that can manifest through feeling sluggish, fatigued and stressed. My approach to health and wellbeing has always been to look at the whole of person, from a psychological and nutritional perspective, because our minds are one of our most powerful tools in determining our wellbeing.

Anyway, I digress… I have made a point to have digital detox’ a number of times throughout 2018. My detox’ include turning off my phone and not using my computer generally from a Friday evening until the Monday morning (recently I did it for five days). No social media, no mobile applications and no constant connection to information at the click of a button. I also only make sure to watch free to air television, so no smart TV benefits like Netflix and Stan. Outrageous right?

To be honest, I now get excited to switch off – my inner introvert loves the peace of not mindlessly checking my phone every hour (ok… every 10 minutes), feeling the overwhelming obligation to always respond to texts and calls within a certain timeframe and to just be in the moment for a few days. As a result, I go into the following week feeling totally rested.

I’m not saying there aren’t benefits to technology because there are, of course. We have made incredible advances in recent years in areas such as science, medicine, physics, education, food production – and the list goes on. What I am saying however, is that our constant need to be plugged in may be adding to your current state of mind more than you think and, in my experience, (with myself and with others) I have found the state of your mind determines the state of your plate. If you are looking to make healthier choices, whether you want to lose weight or not, then this is something to consider.

Think about the last time you came home from work after a stressful day, what did you do? Did you go straight for the ice cream or did you drink half a bottle of wine to ‘wind down’.  How about the other night when you came across that Instagram account of that gorgeous fitness star with the perfect body and felt inferior because you were failing miserably at your new ‘diet’ and were so much further away from your #summerbodgoalz than you realised. As a result, you decided the whole week was a right off and binge ate a packet of double chocolate biscuits after dinner, woke up feeling worse in the morning and that set the tone for your mindset all day. These are clear examples of how your mind can derail any efforts you have to make healthier choices.

There is a reason why #offline is becoming the new #online. There is a growing body of evidence and research that suggests our ever-increasing screen time is contributing to a range of psychological issues. Some of these include reduced concentration, distraction, instant gratification, memory fatigue and insomnia. Social media has also been linked to depression, anxiety and peer pressure. These may not seem like a big deal to many but putting our bodies under a constant state of stress can result in chronic illness. Being in a constant state of rumination (over thinking) can actually change your brain chemistry to release more cortisol and stress hormones and this can cause weight gain, sluggishness and hormone issues to name a few.

I encourage you to do your own version of a digital detox. That may not necessarily mean you switch off for a whole weekend at first, but you might be surprised with how you feel afterwards and chose to work up to that. Try switching off for an evening or a day. I understand the idea of being away from technology for any amount of time can itself be stressful to some, but isn’t that even more of a reason to give it a go? You can’t put a price on good mental health, but if you could and if something as simple as switching off helps with clarity, peace of mind and true restfulness – that’s like winning the lottery.

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