Switch Off Sunday

Switch off Sunday – Turn off phones, computers and any other hidden devices, go find some family or friends and head out doors for the day. Reconnect with yourself, those you love and the magnificent earth around us.

What can you not do with a smart phone? I’ve seen apps for just about everything. From social interaction, to searching the worlds almost infinite databases of information, navigation, gaming, photography, time keeping, note taking, organisers, menstrual cycle charting and more. Did you know you can even make phone calls on them!? These wonderful little gizmos have found there way with alarming speed into just about every nook and cranny of our lives. It is rare for many people to be found without a phone any more. We are connected 24/7 to the world. News on demand, access to friends and vast social networks waiting to entertain us at any time of the day. It feels great to be connected, always in touch, never on our own.

But what are the consequences of living in this cyber city which never sleeps? We have been graced by the presence of these wonderful technologies for long enough now to start to realise that all is not as peachy as it seems when it comes to this constant connectedness. For many of us the web of social interaction, constant bombardment of information and non-stop access to games and online activities means that we find it very hard to stop and switch off. This also applies to the work world where now, due to the wonderful wonders of this pocket sized technology, work can also follow you home with its own unique ring tone to boot.

No longer is home time and the end of the day simply family time or a separation from the world, into your own time and space. In fact many of us are so caught up in this cyber space that as our battery flashes its way towards empty we experience a feeling of panic. Separation anxiety takes hold as our connection is cut. This runs so deeply that recent research has shown that those deprived of their phones can begin to experience withdrawal symptoms not to dissimilar to those coming off recreational drugs.

This means that most of us are literal technological addicts. This addiction has already begun to shape us with mental and physical consequences of too much tech time. Conditions such as text neck and slouching are causing postural and musculoskeletal issues, office workers traditional neck and shoulder inuries are exacerbated, eye strain from peering for hours at a miniature glowing screen with unwavering focus is leading to problems with vision as well as wider consequences like tension headaches and influences on our sleeping hygiene and quality. I was blown away to read that many of us get so caught up when using our devices that we actually forget to breath! Then there are the mental and emotional consequences.

While not evil per say, the rise of this micro, ever constant technology means that we never switch off. This can start to have effects on work/home life balance, family time and family connection. How often do you see a room full of people all hanging out together on their phones? This does no favours for family dynamics. Down time, rest time, quiet time and personal time with our loved ones are all so important and there is a risk that this nourishing, oh so important personal time and space and conversely human contact are not receiving or being received in the ways and time quantities we need. So before this becomes an article of doom and gloom, lets focus instead on how to make the most of the wonderful benefits of this technology, and yet create limits on its use so that it benefits us and works for us rather than ruling us as it can so easily do.

Enter ‘Switch of Sunday’! A friend shared this idea with me and I instantly thought brilliant. What better way to help create moderation than setting aside one day each week to go technology free. Turn off phones, computers and any other hidden devices, go find some family or friends and head out doors for the day. Reconnect with yourself, those you love and the magnificent earth around us. Nothing creates perspective better than doing something differently. Regaining control of the terminators doesn’t have to stop there though! Some people I know have a strict no tech at the dinner table rule and some grandparents have a no phones in the house while visiting rule. All very valid and important acknowledgements of the need to reinstate quality person to person contact time.

Similarly tech free rooms or spaces in the home, allotted technology use times or technology free times. These can work for families or individuals alike, creating space for us to be ‘alone’, still and ‘disconnected’ from these incredible super information and social highways. Creating time and space to better know and reconnect with ourselves, our loved ones and the world around us.

Article by Damian Harrison, Naturopath from Chamomile Naturopathy , Bellingen.