Unplugging & Finding Balance During the Summer

Ahhh … Summer!

Photo Credit: theCarol via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: theCarol via Compfight cc

We love our devices.

And for those of us swimming in the edtech world, they are an integral part of our professional and personal lives.

However, there are very good reasons to put our phones and laptops away and to focus on the now.

For educators, summer is the perfect time to turn off our devices and the monkey chatter of our minds. For international colleagues who work in countries far from family and long-time friends, it’s a time to connect face-to face and be fully present.

Below is a collection of articles and resources in support of unplugging for short or long periods of time.

Your body, your mind, your heart, and your loved ones will thank you!


Your Phone vs. Your Heart

I was intrigued by this New York Times piece Your Phone vs. Your Heart by researcher Barbara Fredrickson. Habits mold our brain, says Fredrickson. Her study showed that after a mindfulness training course, participants had an increase in vagal nerve strength.

“We discovered that the meditators not only felt more upbeat and socially connected; but they also altered a key part of their cardiovascular system called vagal tone … Your brain is tied to your heart by your vagus nerve. Subtle variations in your heart rate reveal the strength of this brain-heart connection, and as such, heart-rate variability provides an index of your vagal tone.”

“By and large, the higher your vagal tone the better. It means your body is better able to regulate the internal systems that keep you healthy, like your cardiovascular, glucose and immune responses.”

“Beyond these health effects, the behavioral neuroscientist Stephen Porges has shown that vagal tone is central to things like facial expressivity and the ability to tune in to the frequency of the human voice. By increasing people’s vagal tone, we increase their capacity for connection, friendship and empathy.”

Read the entire piece here.

Can’t Get Away From It All? The Problem Isn’t Technology

In Wired, I ran across another piece on unplugging called Can’t Get Away From It All? The Problem Isn’t Technology — by Mat Honan.

Unplugging isn’t new:

“The practice of taking an intentional break from technology and civilization is probably as old as technology and civilization. But it seems increasingly urgent now, in an era when the Internet—and thus most of the planet—is as close as an iPhone. We go to seek waldeinsamkeit, as the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson described it—the feeling of being alone in the woods.”

“We’re living in a remarkable time, when it will soon be impossible to be truly alone. Waldeinsamkeit becomes more and more endangered with every cell tower. And if you’re the kind of person who can only leave email behind when you go off the grid, that means you’re going to need a new plan. Our streets are already filled with people staring into their hands. So are our dinner tables and cafès, even our living rooms and bedrooms. Rather than focusing on taking temporary breaks from technology, we need the discipline to live with it at all times. We can’t rely on a mountain or a remote wasteland to create waldeinsamkeit; we have to create it ourselves.

“The phone isn’t the problem. The problem is us—our inability to step away from email and games and inessential data, our inability to look up, be it at an alpine lake or at family members. We won’t be able to get away from it all for very much longer. So it’s vitally important that each of us learns how to live with a persistent connection, everywhere we go, whether it’s in the wilderness or at a dinner party.”

Read the entire article here.


The 7-Day Digital Diet: A Digital Detox Test: Unplug Twitter and Facebook. Put Off Email and Smartphone

The New York Times also ran The 7-Day Digital Diet: A Digital Detox Test: Unplug Twitter and Facebook. Put Off Email and Smartphone by Teddy Wayne.

In this piece, Wayne shares a variety of advice from experts around the world:

We’ve known for some time now that multitasking does not work,” said Clay Shirky, a professor in journalism and interactive telecommunications at New York University. “People keep doing it because it’s emotionally pleasant to multitask even though it’s cognitively damaging. So that makes it parallelized procrastination.”

Maite Barón , the founder of London-based Corporate Escape: “I teach [clients] how to be in the present … Stress and anxiety happen when you’re managing the future.  Take the TV out of your home. Read one newspaper a week. It’s the same news, repeated every day.” Check email ‘maximum, twice a day.'”

Read the entire piece here.


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Photo Credit: nicadlr via Compfight cc

7 Reasons You Should Unplug This Summer

Mashable recently ran a great piece titled 7 Reasons You Should Unplug This Summer by Kyli Singh.  I’ve included my favorite 3 here.

1. Give your brain a rest. 

“Juggling a million emails and phone calls throughout the day can turn out to be not only an interruption, but also an exhausting full-time job. Pew Research Center found that  67% of cellphone owners check their phones, even when it isn’t buzzing.”

2. You’ll return better after you’ve taken a break. 

“Distancing yourself from work after clocking out is important for employee recovery and health, according to a study published in The Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.”

3. Sleep better.

Studies show 44% of cellphone owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss out on any calls, texts or other updates overnight. But checking a lit-up screen during the middle of the night can prevent us from falling asleep and sleeping well. “

You can read the full story here.


Put your cell phone away and meditate, enjoy the sound of your loved ones in the background, or take in the quiet of nature.

Happy summer!

Note: This is a cross-post from SLMarshall’s Coetail blog. 


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