Mental Health

While the internet makes it quicker to find entertaining things like cat videos, it can also cost you time. Everyone needs time offline for mental health reasons. Checking emails for a few minutes stretches into a half hour of watching YouTube cat videos or reading Facebook updates.

Imagine what you could accomplish by reclaiming all that time. Try these suggestions to help you disconnect and get more out of life.

Benefits of Spending More Time Offline

  1. Experience more happiness. Studies show that Facebook intensifies our natural tendencies to make social comparisons that leave us feeling like we’re missing out. When you focus on your own achievements, you’ll have less time to envy your friend’s exotic vacations or job promotions.

  2. Boost your confidence. How much time do you spend editing your selfies? Learn to love the image you see in the mirror, even on bad hair days.

  3. Strengthen your relationships. Research has also found that online contacts differ from real world communications. Face-to-face interactions create more intimacy and trust. Having a few people who are willing to help you move into your new place beats having a thousand Facebook friends you barely know.

  4. Know your own mind. It’s easy to get caught up collecting friends and fans. It’s more satisfying to be authentic and express your true feelings. Be willing to take an unpopular position if it means standing up for your values.

  5. Communicate more tactfully. Anonymous comments often sound harsher than private conversations. Chatting with your friends over coffee will make your speech gentler.

  6. Get better rest. Brightly lit screens and information overload are causing widespread sleep deprivation. Enhance the quality of your sleep by turning off your devices and focusing on truly resting. Leave your phone away from the place where you sleep.

  7. Become more productive. Reduce the distractions in your life. Clean out your garage instead of reading about the latest celebrity divorce or newest reality TV show.

How to Spend More Time Offline

  1. Set a curfew. Start by shutting off electronics a couple of hours before bed. You’ll fall asleep faster and wake up feeling more refreshed. Silence “notifications”.

  2. Enlist support. Let your family, friends, and coworkers know you’ll be online less.

  3. Serve as a role model for your kids. Encourage your children to use technology more constructively. They’ll learn from your example. Wait until dinner is over to check your email. Stay off the phone while you’re driving.

  4. Ban the worst offender sites. Are there a few sites that eat up most of your time? Maybe you need to suspend your Reddit account, deactivate your Facebook page, or reduce your addiction to Pinterest.

  5. Time yourself. Decide in advance how long you’ll spend at the computer and stick to that schedule. Push yourself away when the hour is up.

  6. Schedule weekly dates. Fill your free time with regular appointments for getting together with friends. Host a Friday night poker game, a Saturday night potluck dinner, or a Sunday morning brunch.

  7. Switch to phone calls and visits. Pick up the phone instead of sending an email. Plan a trip to see your parents instead of relying on Skype.

  8. Go outside. Outdoor activities will help you forget about your smartphone for a while. Take your children for a hike in the nearest state park. Pack a picnic lunch. Sketch the scenery instead of taking photos.

  9. Exercise regularly. Exercise can take your mind off technology. Visit a yoga studio each morning or sign up for Cross Fit classes after work.

  10. Reward yourself. Reinforce your new habits by congratulating yourself on your progress. Buy some new sports gear or cook your favorite meal.

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