The purposeful power cut.
By Sarah Barnes – Resident Editor
Ancient cavemen obviously didn’t have the amazing technologies that we do today. They did not have social media or the ability to surf the web, so if in danger from a predator they could not ask advice from Google or Siri. Neither could they update their status or post an Instagram photo of their latest forage for food.
Instead they tactfully interacted with one another and shared stories through drawings on the cave walls. They might have had it right from the beginning. Touch is one of the core senses that we are very much loosing as a generation. Why not touch someone on the arm, showing your affection through visual body language, rather than virtually poking them on Facebook? Now that we live in a world that is tech dominated, perhaps we need to sporadically detox from technology, learning to just be present in the most important of moments and giving ourselves some time to relax.
The art of clean living leads us to believe that mental relaxation is a resilient necessity when looking after our wellbeing. As a result people are beginning to occasionally tune out from their busy, hyper-connected and digital lifestyle, taking a single moment each day to connect with themselves – it’s the new sublimity.
However, we are not hoping for a world without technology or rewinding back to when you could only contact a friend via telegram. Technological advances have had unimaginably positive effects on our world but also on the contrary, it is mentally encrypting to be constantly connected to every digital platform. Tweeting, emailing and live streaming only turns our reality into a virtual one where the lines become blurred between what is real and what is a depiction of an idealistic concept exposed to us via the Internet.
We tote around serious digital baggage every day that wreaks havoc on our minds and bodies. ‘Text Neck’ isn’t the only physical ailment caused by staying constantly connected. Scientists at Harvard Medical School have found that using phones or laptops before bed can disrupt the body’s natural production of melatonin, our sleep hormone. This is due to the increased night time exposure to the infamous LED blue light that emulates from our screens. Such florescent light suppresses our melatonin levels, which can increase rates of depression and even cause retina toxicity. To combat this, Apple has launched the iOS 9.3 feature titled ‘Night Shift’. The control automatically changes the blue light to yellow when it becomes night time. This warmer spectrum of colour was the technology company’s way of bettering the safety of their devices, so exposure to the harsh blue light of our electronics are no longer misshape our natural sleep rhythms when we are busy with work or travel.
We have also been introduced to the ‘National Day of Unplugging’ (3rd– 4th March 2017) , a day created to encourage tech users to shut down their digital devices for twenty-four hours as a way to slow down, disconnecting to reconnect with ourselves and others. German Psychiatrist ‘Johannes Schultz’ developed ‘Autogenic Training’ in 1932. This is a relaxation technique that is a daily practice of three fifteen minute sessions, morning, noon and night. You are to repeat a set visualisation of your choice that induces you to self-produce a feeling of warmth and heaviness, letting you experience a profound state of physical relaxation and mental pace. Think of it as scientific meditation or self-hypnosis.
Whether you wish to experiment with ‘Autogenic Training’ or not, think of creating your own purposeful power cut. Limit yourself with your technological contact for an hour a day or week. Only by detoxing are we driven to the realisation of the reliance we have on technology for everything, from entertainment, cooking and even our working jobs. So before going to sleep at night after a long days work, attempt to give yourself half an hour where you don’t check emails or work late from a glowing laptop screen. It will feel detoxifying I guarantee. I hold vivid memories of when my family would rent this cottage in the Lake District. We had no connection to the outer world; we were completely unreachable with no Wi-Fi or Sky TV.
A week of solitude from the binging of your email or WhatsApp chat was liberating and helped one regain perspective. All the brain fog that was clouding you sunk away and you were left feeling refreshed. Now imagine feeling that release every single day? You may find you develop a clearer perspective at work and at home.
I have come to observe that we must now have our visual eye span at a downward facing angle. The space where our phone usually is, planted in our palms with fingers furiously texting away. It’s such a contradiction, as we want to capture, record and virtually share every moment in our lives to be able to experience it again later – that is our logical mentality. When traveling for business it is the perfect time to detox from technology. Yes there is the temptation of Wi-Fi equipped trains, tubes and planes, but at 30,000 feet it is the perfect excuse to ignore your phone and laptop and take an hour or many to read a book, daydream or simply have a conversation.
If we occasionally detox from technology, in a way that works amongst our busy careers, our minds will feel both brighter and clearer providing us with more mental space to truly breathe and relax.