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5 Ways to Unplug Outside the Studio

ne of the many reasons to step into the studio at SOUL is that it's an escape: 45 minutes free from the glow of screens, buzzing cell phones and an endless stream of alerts. But if clipping in is the only time you spend unplugged, you could be doing yourself a disservice.

Adam Alter, author of “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked,” says there are serious repercussions to always being connected. The major danger of [spending so much time on our phones is that it crowds] out other activities. We spend an average of four hours each day on our phones, which eats into time with loved ones and friends, work, exercise, and time spent outdoors.”

If you cut back on time spent on your phone, there are serious benefits, like “stronger social relationships, [and] better physical and psychological health in the form of more physical activity,” he says.

Here are five easy ways you can disconnect:

Set a phone-free hour. In January, SYDNEY challenged riders to kick off the new year by turning off their cell phones for just one hour a day. I think in the past couple of years we (or at least definitely me) have become so attached to our phones that we feel naked without them,” she explained. “I also want to put my phone away more often – but sometimes even then when you feel your phone vibrate or ring while you’re having a conversation, then all of the sudden you’re not engaged anymore." Try turning off your phone — or if that’s too drastic, silencing it and slipping into a desk drawer or putting it somewhere out of sight — for an hour a day. Without your phone as a distraction, you may find yourself more focused on what's going on in front of you.

Reach for something else instead of your phone. If you're reaching for your phone because you're bored, you're not alone. "Phones make us intolerant of boredom because they [provide content] before we even begin to struggle with mental inactivity. Think [of] people in elevators checking phones even when the ride is only a few seconds long. Boredom is essential because it produces new and interesting ideas,” Alter explains. The moment you feel tempted to scroll through Instagram or refresh your Twitter feed, opt for something else — grab a book, magazine or even free weights. Emerging yourself in another activity will cut down on screen time and let your mind wander, allowing you to generate new ideas.

Turn off notifications. Turning off notifications is an easy way to cut down on screen time. With a flurry of daily alerts, it’s difficult to go even an hour without being disturbed. “Cell phones are like slot machines — you never know what each interaction will bring: an email you've been waiting for, likes on a social media post, or an unexpected text,” Alter says, so it’s no wonder we keep reaching for them, waiting to feel validated by some form of communication. By turning off notifications — or changing your preferences to only the most essential ones (sorry, daily horoscope!), you’re freeing up your focus for more important things.

Buy an alarm clock. If you’re using your phone as an alarm clock, chances are the moment you open your eyes, you’re staring at a screen. Buying an actual alarm clock will ensure the first thing you lay eyes on isn’t a screen. If you struggle with getting up in the morning, place your alarm clock out of arm's reach so you have to get out of bed to turn it off.

Set a schedule. If you’re faced with an overflowing inbox and find yourself answering emails after work hours, setting a schedule can help minimize time spent on your phone. Think of it like a digital curfew. Establish a last call for checking emails, texts and notifications. Try turning your email notifications off when you're hoping to have some downtime — remember, you can always turn them back on. By creating a set schedule, you’ll be able to give yourself a breather and focus on more important things than emails, like those you choose to spend time with.

Another easy way to cut down on screen time? Spend as much time as possible with your phone away from physical reach. “Seventy-five percent of people can reach their phones without moving their feet 24 hours a day — that physical proximity is the enemy of moderation,” Alter says.

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