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Intentionally Connecting Will Improve Your Life

Stella and I at the museum on our fun Friday's.

Stella and I at the museum on our fun Friday's.

Unplug.  Get out. Disconnect. Be together and just be.

Dave and Stella heading to the Saturday Fermer's Market.

Dave and Stella heading to the Saturday Fermer's Market.

As I type those words, I feel my breath leave my body and, for a brief moment, I feel the essence of how it feels to just disconnect.  Then I’m back, here to explain how this has made a huge impact on my life and how it may also do so for you.

Last night, I was watching “The Sound of Music” with my daughter.  She loves music and doesn’t get much screen time, so this was a treat.  The opening scene comes up as Julie Andrews reaches the top of the hill and is so overcome by the beauty surrounding her that she starts singing, breathes in the life surrounding her and does NOT take an Instagram worthy shot of her on top of the mountain.  She didn’t get the memo “You’re not living unless it’s on IG”.

Out and about together.

Out and about together.

How many times in the last month, have you stopped engaging in your surroundings to take a pic to document the “authenticity” of the event for eternity? 

Have you ever asked yourself why you chose to stop being present to stand on the outskirts?

Let’s face it, there is an addiction that comes with our smartphones that is not healthy. Having a phone in our hand that gives us the unending ability to plug into everyone else’s business and unplug from our connection with our own lives is a powerful tool that can have detrimental effects on our lives if we are not intentional about how we use it.

Being intentional about how we use it. That is the key.  I’m not suggesting that technology is bad, far from it.  What I am suggesting is that we should be intentionally conscious of when and how we choose to use technology.  The same goes for how we choose to expose our kids to the same technology.

SCIENCE | What does the research say?

Technology Addiction

Yes, it’s actually a thing.

According to Addiction.com, “It’s often described as a serious problem involving the inability to control use of various kinds of technology, in particular the Internet, smartphones, tablets and social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.”  If you can’t go an hour without checking your phone, the FOMO you’re experiencing may be a bit more serious.

While this disorder is not yet classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the reference used to diagnose disorders, there is strong evidence that it is not far off. 

Typical behavior patterns include: (per Addicition.com)

  • Compulsive text messaging
  • Updating social media status frequently
  • Social withdrawal
  • Disinterest in social activities that don’t involve a computer, smartphone or gadget

In addition, depression, sleep disorders and stress can also occur.  Who wants any of that?

Improved Quality of Life

A study from the University of Maryland found that when students unplugged from technology, they spent more time with friends and family, exercised more frequently, cooked more and ate healthier foods.  Your outlook changes, self-esteem increases and happiness goes up.

A Lack of Connection is Bad for Your Health, from The Better Doctor

Feeling close to people reduces anxiety and depression.  For children, it gives them increased confidence and social skills.  It will also help regulate emotion and teach empathy.

Being more connected with our loved ones can increase longevity and support our immune system.

TAKE ACTION

I’ll admit, sometimes I just want to check IG or Facebook.  It’s a real thing and I get that.  But, then next time to reach for your phone when you are around loved ones ask yourself, “How do I want to spend my time?  Do I want to engage with the people who love me and are in front of me?  OR, do I want to disengage and ignore my surroundings?”

Yes, it’s harsh, but it is real.  This is #theonelife, be intentional with it and spend it well.

INTENTIONABLE ACTIONS CHECKLIST

  • If you do not have family time scheduled already, do it now, put it on your calendar.
  • Invite your kids, make it a big deal, something everyone looks forward to.
  • Give everyone ownership of what the activity is going be.  Ask for input, make a list then do one or two activities at a time ensuring that everyone’s activity get’s done over time.
  • Turning off social media notifications during your family time.
  • Turn on do not disturb setting.
  • Have fun, engage and just be.

BTW: I recently realized that there is a setting to only allow certain people to call through to your phone when you turn the setting on.  This is HUGE for me.  If my husband and I are on date night, I can set it so that the nanny, my parents and mother-in-law are the only people who can call me.  Those are the important one’s in case of emergency; everyone else can wait.

NOTE: Finding pictures for this post was not easy.  I take fewer and fewer pics of us on our outings.  The quality is not great, but the love is all there.