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5 Benefits of Unplugging for the Holidays + 5 Tips

By Kissairis Munoz

The onslaught of family, friends and social events that occurs during the holidays is enough to make even the most social person want to sneak away and enjoy some alone time. However, if your idea of relaxing during the festive madness translates into checking in on Facebook, drooling over Insta-worthy photos or playing a marathon video game session, it might be time to back away from the electronics and start unplugging for the holidays instead.

Benefits of Unplugging

Unplugging for the holidays is more than just sticking your smartphone or other tech devices into another room for a few hours. Instead, it’s about making a concerted effort to give your brain a break and allow yourself to enjoy life’s smaller pleasures:

  • the company of loved ones

  • truly enjoying a meal without first snapping photos of it

  • even just having some mental downtime

If that sounds a little hokey for you, there are actually scientific benefits to disconnecting and plugging back into real life:

1. Say Goodbye to Nomophobia

Does putting down your phone give you FOMO? If so, you’re not alone.

About half of American adults check their phones numerous times an hour — in fact, nearly one in 10 Americans has used his or her phone during intimate moments!

Welcome to the world of nomophobia, or the fear of being without your smartphone.

Reducing your screen time means you’ll have less time to waste on things like cat videos and more to spend on things you’ve been putting off because you “have no free time,” like baking more, trying out a new hobby or just unwinding with a good book. It might take some time to get used to, but soon you’ll find yourself keeping your phone switched off more than on.

2. Reduce Anxiety

If you’re already stressed, too much tech time can make you feel more anxious and increase levels of depression.

The pressure of waiting for a new like, the seemingly endless social media scrolling — it can eventually take a toll on mental health. Luckily, unplugging for the holidays can reverse those effects.

Because anxiety can lead to a host of side effects, from headaches and trouble sleeping to an elevated heart rate, which can lead to heart disease, seize any opportunity (or these handy natural stress relievers) to decrease it! You’ll feel better, and your body will thank you, too — as will your family members, who will appreciate the more cheerful you!

3. Your Brain Will Focus Better

Do you find yourself switching between apps, talking on the phone while playing computer games or simply trying to listen to that story your partner is telling you while checking tomorrow’s weather? All that multitasking is doing things to your brain, and they aren’t good.

See, our brains aren’t actually designed to multitask, and we don’t actually do it. What happens instead is that our minds just shift focus super quickly, losing cognitive function in the process.

In fact, people who multitask tend to be more stressed and impulsive than their one-track-mind counterparts, likely because multitasking can increase production of the stress hormone cortisol along with adrenaline.

Shutting off your technological tempters will allow you to practice mindfulness and give all your attention to what’s happening in front of you, whether it’s playing with your nieces and nephews or enjoying that delicious bite of apple pie. You might notice that you remember small details a bit better, as your brain is able to focus on the task at hand and process info more quickly.

4. Get More Sleep

Watching Netflix in bed or checking your email one last time is ruining your shut-eye. The screens on your favorite gadgets emit a blue light.

To your brain, blue light is the same as daylight and acts to stifle the production of melatonin. That’s a big deal, because melatonin is the hormone that’s responsible for setting our sleep-wake cycles, or circadian rhythms.

This makes it harder not only to fall asleep, but fall into the deep sleep that our bodies need to properly refresh.