National Day of Unplugging
National Day of Unplugging is March 4-5 this year (2022). This awareness campaign promotes a 24-hour respite from technology and happens annually on the first weekend in March to inspire a healthy life/tech balance.
Through her research and in writing her new book about anxiety (Future Tense) Dr. Tracy Dennis-Tiwary, Of the Dept of Psychology at Hunter College, City University of New York, suggests that it is important to occasionally unplug for mental health reasons.
Our screen time affects our activity levels and the amount of time we spend in nature, which is known to be important in order to avoid depression. Endless studies shown that time outdoors vastly boosts mental health.
Author Richard Louv (Last Child in the Woods) termed this ‘nature-deficit disorder’, a reduced ability to focus, to live in the current moment, and to appreciate nature’s beauty. He asserts that indoor habits contribute to epidemic obesity, attention-deficit disorder, isolation and depression
In February 2020, research from an interdisciplinary Cornell University team found that it takes as little as 10 minutes in a natural setting to feel happier and lessen stress, both physically and mentally.
And the University of Essex in research in 2010 found that just five minutes of green exercise produced a huge effect on mood, self-esteem and mental health.
It affects our sleep. Data from over 85,000 teenagers (through an analysis of several studies of teenage sleep) showed that using technology often may increase alertness and/or reduce the ability to sleep at night. The bright screen light from devices causes increased alertness. Using devices is stimulating and can make us less ready to sleep. And we can become absorbed and not want to stop. (Whilst the natural evening rise in melatonin - the hormone that makes us ready for sleep - is not affected by one hour of bright screen light, it is after 1.5 hours.)
One in ten of us is woken at least two or three nights a week by texts. Around 40% of the working population are sending emails or texts, personal or work related, in the hour before trying to get to sleep.
A 2011 US study of over 1500 people, by the US National Sleep Foundation revealed that late-night technology report less satisfactory sleep and are more likely to feel sleepier during the day in a range of situations, including driving. It doesn’t take much to see why that might be a problem, but lack of sleep also causes poor mood, a negative effect on work, an impact on home life and social life, and an impact on intimate/sexual relations.
Ironically, being ultra-connected can affect how much we socialise with others with others in person. In 2016, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study was the first to definitively link social relationships with concrete measures of physical wellbeing such as abdominal obesity, inflammation, and high blood pressure (which can lead to long-term health problems, including heart disease, stroke and cancer.)
We also live longer if we have more social connections. In adolescence, social isolation increases certain health risks by the same amount as physical inactivity (while social integration protects against abdominal obesity). In old age, social isolation is more harmful to health than diabetes on developing and controlling hypertension.
So on the day you do disconnect, make sure you make connections with the people you love and take the time to enjoy sports or exercise outside.
Digital Declutter as well as Digital Detox?
When you return to ‘situation normal’ do you need a ‘digital declutter’? The benefits of decluttering are well documented, making life simpler.
How many old cassettes, videos, and even records from past eras do you own?
We understand why it’s so hard to give up those nostalgic items, but be honest with yourself:
- Could you use that space?
- Why are you keeping them?
- Do you really need to keep them?
- However green we want to be, will anybody really want our kettle leads, phone chargers with old style connections etc?
Before making decisions, however, know that some retro technology, especially old games, vinyl and retro Apple kit, can sometimes command good resale prices, so you may be able to sell things on.
If, however, those questions lead to you to throw some out, don’t forget to recycle carefully. Alan M. Eddisson wrote the refrain: “Modern technology owes ecology a great big apology.” The latest stats available, published in late 2021, show that the UK produced a total of 1.6 million tonnes of e-waste in 2019 - 23.9kg of electronic waste per person. So before chucking out, please do visit www.recyclenow.com and enter your postcode to find your closest recycling centre . Most have an area set out to drop off 'small electricals'.
Should you decide to keep them, like most things, there’s a best way to store. Our ten top tips include:
Remember to pack each device separately and seal with packaging tape so that nothing escapes when moved.
If you have the manuals, follow the instructions on them.
Original packing boxes will usually be the best, if you’ve kept them. If you kept the box but not the innards, do everything you can to cover screens to protect from scratching: cotton, canvas and cardboard are your friends.
TV and computer screens can be protected by wrapping them in anti-static foam. Then use sturdy card to protect from scratches and to fill out any spaces with cloth, biofoam beads or shredded paper (can be messy, be warned!) – rattling around is when most damage occurs.
Store any accessories and cables with the devices, organising devices they belong to. However, remove any DVDs, CDs, game cartridges or tapes before storing, and never store with batteries. (They corrode and will cause damage.)
If you have a problem keeping track of all the electronics you have, keep a detailed list or a spreadsheet. (This will also help with insurance claims if anything bad happens to them.)
Make sure whatever boxes things are stored in are properly labelled, and marked fragile if required (eg screens, vinyl records etc).
Be sure to store technology in a dry, temperature-controlled environment as temperature fluctuations can cause damage.
If the device stores data – precious photos, songs, videos, for example – back up before storing. If something happens to the device, these could be lost forever.
Make sure things are clean and dry before storing.
Enjoy digital detox day – and the ensuing digital declutter!
And don’t forget that we’re here to help with all of your storage needs: easyStorage.