For many of us, the idea of unplugging from our electronic devices is as strange as speaking a foreign language we’ve never heard before.
We make up excuses about our work, personal life or romantic relationships suffering if we don’t check our phones, but the truth is, the sun will come up tomorrow if we give ourselves a few screen-free hours.
More than that, there are real health and wellness benefits to unplugging. Here are four reasons you should unplug this weekend.
To Catch Up on Your Z’s
What is the weekend for, if not sleeping in and taking cat naps? You pulled an all-nighter before your big presentation on Tuesday and you stayed out late on Thursday at the monthly networking happy hour, so the weekend is definitely the time to recharge those batteries.
The problem is, light-emitting devices like your dear old smartphone will keep you up. That’s because your body’s natural circadian rhythm — basically the internal clock that tells you it’s time for sleep — is negatively affected by those glowing screens. Participants in a sleep study who used an e-reader within an hour of going to bed took more time to fall asleep and were less alert in the morning.
So kiss your phone and tablet goodnight well before bedtime, so that you can catch up on that much-needed sleep.
To Find the Meaning of Life
This might sound like an exaggeration, but even Google CEO Eric Schmidt agrees. In his commencement address at the University of Pennsylvania, he said that to find the things that really matter, you must unplug. “I hate to say it, but you’re going to have to turn off your computer. You’re actually going to have to turn off your phone and discover all that is human around us.”
You know when the leader of the world’s most popular search engine is telling you to get offline, there must be an important reason to do so. And there is: To discover your priorities, connect with friends and family, and to experience new adventures.
To Achieve a Healthy Lifestyle
It’s not only your eyes and fingers that are engaged when playing around on your smartphone apps, gaming at your desktop or watching Netflix on your tablet during the weekend. Your brain is also working overtime while your body stays still.
If you want your mind to be sharp the rest of the week, you’ve got to give your brain time to recharge. You can do that by taking a walk around your neighborhood, hiking through a local trail or even having sex. The point is, putting the screen away not only gives your brain time to refresh, but also gives your body a chance to burn calories and strengthen muscles.
To Curb Depression and Mental Illness
Most of us have experienced Facebook envy or Instagram jealousy when looking at our friends’ feeds. Whether it’s the seemingly blissful, effortless romantic relationships of college classmates or the meteoric professional rise of a former high school sweetheart, social media is great for playing a game of “the grass is always greener on the other side.” And that isn’t good for our own well-being. At the very least it’s distracting, and at worst it encourages comparisons and judgement.
Turns out that science backs up those negative feelings, too. A study of regular users showed that women who used email or chat functions were more at risk for mental health issues and men who were avid gamers were more likely to experience depression. So unplugging is a way to encourage healthy habits that lead to a stronger mind and body.
At the end of the day, the person turning off the computer is more important that any data transmitted over it. So do yourself a favor: Become a healthier, happier version of yourself by unplugging your screens this weekend.