5 Benefits of Disconnecting

We live in an always-on world. I've spent my career in an always-on field. And - confession time - I am starting to get tired of always being on, especially with so much negative news coming from all sides.Now, maybe I just need a vacation, but I think it's more than that. I think it's my phone's fault.

A gradual switch

I got my first Smartphone relatively late in life and was fairly slow to adopt. For a time after upgrading, it was still primarily a phone to me - well, a phone plus calculator and flashlight. I still preferred to use my laptop or desktop for reading or any kind of media consumption.But, over time, that began to change. A few years ago, I retired my digital camera after getting an iPhone 6 and realizing the photos it captured were as good, and print-worthy, as those from my digicam. I became a full-time iPhoneographer and that phone hasn't left my hand since.A long-time book nerd and avid reader, I switched to the Kindle around 2009 when I was pregnant. Soon after, I realized I could read books on my iPhone via the Kindle app - and that's when my nighttime phone habits started.Within the past few years, I've begun to do more emailing, social media-ing and calendar scheduling from my iPhone. And, I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but my TV and movie watching switched from the usual places (TV in the living room or computer screen in my home office) to the small screen in my hand. Yes, I now practically sleep with my iPhone.It's all too much. Way too much. All this connection time isn't good for our mental health - and it's not physically healthy for us, either. According to The New York Times, the iPhone can ruin both your posture and your mood.Here are five benefits of disconnecting from our phones in a meaningful and purposeful way.

  1. Connect with people. When was the last time you had a meal with family, friends or loved ones with no tech in sight? We've all gotten into bad habits here. Make a rule to put all smartphones in a basket and hide it away before dinner to allow plenty of time for conversation, comfortable silences and true, human connection.
  1. Connect with nature. I am guilty of taking my phone along on all of our hikes and nature walks so I can take pictures. I'm going to FORCE myself to leave it behind at least once a weekend so that I can truly focus on what I'm seeing, hearing and experiencing in nature. I'll let my memory take the pictures for once.
  1. Connect with yourself. Only when we quiet our minds from distractions can we truly think, reflect and grow. Journaling is one of my favorite pastimes, but I all too often to neglect it in favor of short Facebook status updates or sharing photos on Instagram. I'm forcing myself to sit down and kick-it old school with pen and paper at least once a week. Though hard to do at first, the results are immensely satisfying and do more for the mind and soul than any amount of time spent on my phone.
  1. Connect with pets. When was the last time you really bonded with your dog or cat - and petted them with both hands? Look into your dog's eyes, give them a two-handed massage and enjoy the feel-good vibes that envelope both of you. He or she will be so unbelievably grateful for your undivided attention.
  1. Connect with sleep. Smartphones interfere with sleep. We know this, but we continue to use them at bedtime. Put yours down or, better yet, lock it in the bathroom or another room and let your mind wander on its own instead. Open the window, let in some cool night air and enjoy the evening sounds. A good night's sleep does wonders for us.

We use our smartphones for many valid, valuable purposes - but we use them too much. What are your thoughts on putting strategies in place to purposefully disconnect? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or over on Facebook.