A recent study suggested that Canadians are spending a lot of their waking time online, reaching upwards of 75 hours a month. And for the average American, when you factor in watching TV, listening to the radio and using smartphones or other electronic devices, that number soars to 11 hours per day 1. And in Asian countries such as China, rehabilitation camps are popping up to help deal with its growing internet addiction problem.

And while we all know it’s not realistic in today’s society to expect people to just ‘turn off’, scaling back the amount of time spent online has its clear benefits:

Mono-tasking is the new multi-tasking – when we do too much, we divide our attention. By putting our devices aside, it allows us to get the most of other activities, such as focused play time with children.

Better sleep – the light of phone screens and tablets can disrupt our natural energy cycle, stimulating us when our bodies actually want to go to sleep. Keep your smartphone and tablet out of the bedroom.

More time for exercise – while there are plenty of apps that help us get and stay active, web surfing can take up valuable time we could be using for getting outdoors and getting moving.

A sense of calm – even small breaks away from buzzing alerts, texts and ‘likes’ can help reduce stress levels.

Unplug to reconnect – instead of learning about friends via social media, you’ll have more time to connect in person. There’s no better time for catching up with family and friends!

Want to try a digital cleanse? Start with these 5 small steps:

  1. Take inventory – how often are you reaching for your device? Cut back on sites, apps and habits that don’t bring value, aka “time vampires”.
  2. Cut back – instead of going cold turkey, limit your usage. Instead of checking email 5 times each hour, try once per hour.
  3. Turn off your notifications and alerts.
  4. Create technology-free zones, such as the bedroom and the dinner table.
  5. Make plans – get outside, spend time with a friend or schedule some “me” time that doesn’t include technology.

In today’s digital obsessed world, it can be hard to disconnect. But making a small effort once in a while to put the phone down and spend some in-person time with your family and friends, or going out and leaving the phone at home will allow you to recharge yourself.

1 Source: nielsen.com.

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