Square eyes. That is what I have always told my daughter will happen to her if she watches too many shows. Little did I realize I would do it to myself.
In my family, I am the one spending the most time in front of a screen. I can easily sit down with my MacBook with the intent to respond to some email and 2 hours later, I am captivated by Twitter and a dog shaming video. How did that happen? I can feel my eyes getting shifty and yet can’t seem to pull myself away from the screen. I must be getting square eyes.
We are surrounded and immersed in digital technology. Everyday we willingly choose to be in a relationship with our devices. They make day-to-day operations simpler, ease the demands of parenting and keep our to-do lists in check. Technology connects us with the world and provides an endless stream of opportunities (and dog videos) to capture our attention.
How many times have you glanced at Instagram and found yourself down the rabbit hole an hour later? Were you half way to work when you realized your phone was still sitting beside your lunch on the counter at home? I bet you turned back for the phone, not your lunch. While technology allows us to stay connected, it can also keep us disconnected.
Whether you think you are getting square eyes or not, we all need tech breaks. The pressure of responding to the constant barrage of online notifications can leave us feeling a little deflated. So what is the secret to disconnecting and avoiding square eyes? It’s simple. Go outside.
The moment you step outside and breathe in the fresh air, you are doing your body a favor. Breathing in fresh air brings more oxygen to your cells and more clarity to your brain. Dr Miles Richardson, head of psychology at the University of Derby states that getting out into nature has been shown to significantly correlate with life satisfaction, vitality, meaningfulness, happiness, mindfulness, and lower cognitive anxiety. That sounds way better to me than a bad case of FOMO.
As I talk with friends about the constant overwhelm we feel caused by technology, work, and parenting, the common thread shared with respect to self-care is taking a tech break. Whether that means going for a 30 minute walk or a weekend retreat without WiFi, we all seen to crave those tech-free moments that seem so hard to come by in our modern everyday living.
Getting outside without a device will not only improve your mood and regenerate your vitality, it will also demonstrate to your kids that it’s okay to step away from technology. It’s okay not to respond to the pings. It’s okay to leave the house without having the ability to take a picture. Kids feel the same pressure we do when it comes to technology overload. They have just not yet developed the coping mechanisms to handle it. So take the lead and challenge yourself and your child to recharge in nature and leave the devices charging at home.
Next time you feel that technology is taking control of your life, step outside and breathe in some fresh oxygen. Go for a walk, a trip to the playground, even just fill the bird feeder or water the flowers. Nature has the amazing ability to restore our attention, our creative capacity and reconnect us with what it truly important - ourselves.
“Let’s wander where the wifi is weak” - words to live by