Uncategorized Wellness Work

Creating Boundaries Around Technology

January 28, 2020

A few weeks ago I sent out a survey to the THM email list asking you for some feedback on what you want to see this year. Recipes were definitely the #1 but close behind was tips for self-care and taking care of your mind/body/spirit. They say your vibes attract your tribe so I’m stoked that I’m giving off all the self-care vibes. My hope is that this platform can be a reminder that a) self-care looks different on everyone and b) self-care means more than just massages and quiet time. We all have different amounts of time, access and priorities so keep this in mind as we begin to explore more self-care this year.

As I was brainstorming topics in the self-care arena I realized a huge part of self-care for me this past year has been disconnecting and setting boundaries around technology and social media. Boundaries in general are a huge part of taking care of yourself but as a tech addict whose job also requires spending a lot of time online, it’s become even more apparent to me how important it is that I create boundaries around technology. 

I mentioned in my 2019 recap that one thing I did for myself in 2019 was take a solo vacation. I didn’t share any of it because I needed to create some space for myself to process the closing of one decade and the beginning of another (I went over my 30th birthday!) but also because the location itself was tech-free. It was part of why I decided to go there: I was ready to experience my life without technology. And 3 days after arriving home I made a big decision to leave Instagram. This is no coincidence.

I’ve taken my fair share of Instagram breaks over the past 10 years and I try to go digital-free as often as I can but it hasn’t been without a lot of practice and even more boundaries. I find I am less stressed, less irritable and in general, more present in my life when there’s less technology involved. So as we begin to dive deeper into self-care this year I hope you’ll consider giving yourself a little tech detox as part of your self-care regimen. With that, let’s chat about my best tips for boundaries around technology.

How To Create Boundaries Around Technology

Set limits within apps.

Did you know that iPhones have a built in feature to limit app usage? You can set a limit so certain apps lock after a certain amount of time. If you’re intimidated by this, don’t be! 1. You can always unlock the app… it’s your phone and your choice. And 2. It’s really interesting to just be aware of the limits and how quickly you reach them. You can also set a timer for how much time you spend within certain types of apps i.e. social media and even on your phone in general. Just go to Settings –> Screen Time –> App Limits. *If this can be done in a non-iphone phone I’d love to hear about it!

Make it harder for yourself.

Social media and technology is so addicting because of how accessible it is… at least for me. Making it harder for me to access the apps has really helped create an actual boundary around usage. There are multiple ways to do this:

  • Delete the app off your phone for certain parts of the day or for.ev.er. If it’s not on your phone, you can’t access it!
  • Keep tempting apps on other devices. Delete the app off your phone and keep it only on your tablet or desktop access. This won’t prevent you from using them but will make it a bit harder.
  • Move apps around on your phone. This was something I used to do before I deleted Instagram. I’d often notice I’d unconsciously open the app if I wasn’t distracted by something else. Moving it around forced me to be more conscious of my actions and actually decide if I wanted to engage.

Start your day without technology.

Once you start it’s hard to stop, am I right? I like to set parameters around my day so a certain part of my day is without technology. Maybe it’s the first hour in the morning or maybe it’s at night. When it’s planned in your head, you don’t feel guilty for being offline. If you work online (hi, it’s me) maybe you set certain parameters like you don’t check your email or social media until a certain time. This lets your creative juices flow when you need them too without getting distracted by the unhelpful and distracting parts of technology. Pro tip: Put your phone in a different room when you sleep. 

Take fasts/planned breaks.

As you may know, I quit Instagram about 5 months ago. I made an announcement so you wouldn’t think something happened to me but if you don’t run an online business or aren’t someone that posts daily, you can fly under the radar. Start small if you want – take one day off. You don’t have to tell anyone and it doesn’t have to be a big deal, just do it for you. Start small and see how it feels. Same goes for email. When you go on a vacation set up an auto-responder and LET.IT.GO. I used to set an auto-responder and still responded to emails. Now when I’m travelling I don’t even look. Yes it makes it a bit more stressful when I return but a vacation is not a vacation if you spend the whole time on your phone.

Have intentional tech-free activities.

Whether it’s yoga, going to the gym, driving or heading out on a walk. Allow yourself activities that don’t involve technology. One of my favorites pieces of going to a yoga class is the fact that I leave my phone outside the room and I’m 100% present with my body, my mind and my breath. As humans we need this separation. As a yoga teacher I understand that people have emergencies and may need their phone nearby but TBH we all need to redefine what an emergency is. Ask yourself if you really need your phone in class or sitting in the cup-holder of your treadmill. I’m gonna guess you probably don’t.

* * * * *

Guys, I know it isn’t easy. If it’s feeling particularly overwhelming you’re likely even more in need of a break. I’ve said it many times but I think we’re going to look back in 20 years and wish we hadn’t let technology infiltrate every moment of our lives. Technology has brought so many improvements and benefits to our lives but it’s also taken us away from some essential human needs: community, connection and nature. Who knows how all of this is rewiring our brains and affecting our mental health. See how you might be able to shift some things around in your life to give yourself a little break from technology. You got this!

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  • Reply
    Jim O'Shea III
    January 30, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    I do IT support, my 30 year old son is a very successful programmer. We both have the best solution to setting boundaries. We both have a dumb, flip phones. Calls and texts only. Also eliminates the smart watch. Great for mental health. I would highly recommend it.

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