Studies have shown that we’d be more relaxed, would sleep better and be healthier if we could give up our digital addictions. This Labor Day weekend resolve to make an effort to unplug and live life more like the way everyone did 30 years ago.
Yes, technology has assisted us in ways no one could have imagined. We can Skype with people across town or around the world, text or email someone 24 hours a day and get answers to practically any question imaginable in mere seconds. But is any of that stuff truly necessary in the grand scheme of things? By realizing and becoming more aware of the creeping presence of technology and, in particular, on social media, you can begin to put limits on your digital life throughout the day.
1. Restrict or eliminate your guests’ use of gadgets at your Labor Day gathering
This difficult but smart move will help you and your friends reconnect with one another and enjoy your event. Ask all guests to mute their devices, refrain from using them and focus more on the here and now (at least for the duration of the event). Though there may be some initial hesitation and even some pushback, remind your attendees how much you value their friendship, and everyone will benefit from more attention rather than seeing downward-facing heads the entire time.
To take this idea further, consider muting your own devices daily from dinnertime until the morning. Continued communication with coworkers after hours has been shown to create stress and block your brain from the ability to relax and recoup from your work day and get ready for the next one. Depending on the tone of the messages you receive, intense rumination may be prompted by issues, problems or worries at work that you receive after hours. Worrying usually prevents people from providing appropriate mental and emotional resources to their families.
By better balancing your home/work life, you will benefit, as well as your family and friends. Your employer may also notice a better recharged and more relaxed version of you throughout the workday.
2. Don’t spread your resources too thin by “party multitasking”
You will want to enjoy your event and the people attending, so don’t be afraid or hesitant to accept others’ offers of assistance in preparing before and cleaning up after your Labor Day event. On the surface, you may cringe at the thought of putting your friends and family to work. But these are people who love you and really want to help. Just as constantly jumping between emails, work reports and your kids’ homework is not productive or healthy, neither is trying to do everything at a party by yourself. You might be surprised to know those who rate themselves the highest in multitasking ability have been shown to be the worst at doing it. They also take more risks and are much more impulsive. Those who do less multitasking have been shown to be much better at doing it. So–go ahead–ask your friends and relatives to place the flags on the table or stick flags with solar lights around the pool, tend the bar, be the DJ or the pool game coordinator. They’ll enjoy helping and you’ll get to relax!
You probably realize that doing five things at once is a fool’s errand. The more things you try to juggle at the same time, the less effective you will be at all of them. Take a break from as many of these things as you can this Labor Day. Consider extending your aversion to multitasking past the holiday weekend and into your everyday life at home, especially during meals and evening hours. This will provide you with a more peaceful and relaxing time after the workday or week is over.
3. Take a break from the internet and social media during your Labor Day gathering
Don’t be tempted to update your status, check emails or monitor your “likes” during your Labor Day weekend festivities. Strangely, the internet and social media, which was intended to bring people closer together, has instead made people much more lonely, jealous, jaded and mentally unhealthy. If you’re starting to feel like you’re constantly on your phone, tablet or laptop and you don’t see an end in sight, the holiday may even be a good idea to start scaling back or even eliminate one or two of your social media platforms altogether. On an ongoing basis, try taking a break for a few hours in the evening and reclaim that time to focus on other things that are more important in your life.
4. Take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in on Labor Day
There aren’t many days where you don’t have to worry about work or home responsibilities. Take advantage of them when you get them. Unplug from the technology you usually rely on during the work day. Addiction to technology has been shown to have the potential to become a gateway to a host of other mental health issues, including sleep disorders, depression, anxiety and stress. Shut off your devices entirely this Labor Day weekend and use that time to do something relaxing.
After the holiday weekend, try to wean yourself from devices that may be inadvertently robbing you of valuable sleep, such as computers and smartphones. Regular computer and phone use at night leads to sleep disorders, stress and depression in both men and women. The light emitted by screens leads to a reduction in serotonin levels–which are valuable to effective sleep–even after short-term usage. Your body will respond to the lack of a good night’s sleep by marked reductions in your psychological well-being throughout the day.
5. Put down your phone and recalibrate your relationships during the holiday weekend
This Labor Day weekend, why not give technology a rest? Put your work concerns behind when you have the perfect opportunity the spend the time with family and friends. There’s no need to keep peeking at your phone screen. Instead, focus on the people around you who are most important in your life. Your body and your mind will appreciate the effort.
Did you know that people display negative behaviors during and immediately after cell phone usage? Studies have shown that people turn down more volunteer opportunities, have difficulty with word problems and give less money to charity when they’ve recently used a cellular phone. Surprisingly, the same behavior occurs when people merely think of their cell phone or even draw a picture of it. It’s clear, then, that any mental association the mind makes with a cellular phone has, at the very least, a negative subliminal connotation.
Concentrate on your in-person relationships. These people are all choosing to be with you this Labor Day for a reason. Don’t sacrifice the relatively small amount of time we get to have fun and socialize with enjoyable people in favor of connecting with the digital world instead.