Jen Rulon

As an online triathlon coach, I try to be in full access for my athletes but I also have to set boundaries. Sometimes, those boundaries get broken but for the most part, my athletes do a great job of understanding that I have a life as well. And I truly thank them for that.

About two months ago, I had to do it. I had to drop off the face of the earth for 24 hours. I was exhausted. I was overwhelmed. I was actually hating my phone and computer. It was with me constantly and it was getting to be too much.

Sometimes staying away from our smartphones for just a few minutes is difficult, but did you know that separating yourself from your digital gadgets and life can improve your life a great deal. It’s more than likely that if you are reading this article, your smartphone is lying within reach of you. These days our smartphone is our best friend that we can’t be separated from, not even for an hour or so. It’s an extension of us, we’re always ready to grab it when it we hear a ding or a vibrate from a text. Apart from our phone, we spend more and more time on digital devices, probably much more than 2 hours in a day. There is a steady flow of incoming messages, social media connections and phone calls.

Technology and Dopamine!

We have to be honest and admit that technology has certainly changed our lives, making them just a whole lot easier – in fact, many of us have become addicted to all the digital gadgets we own.

When new messages come in, dopamine gets released in our bodies. This important chemical causes people to desire, to want to search and seek; to be curious. Learn more about dopamine and digital devices HERE. But from our smartphones to our computers to everything digital, we are actually in a vicious cycle and this is unbeknown to us, the fact that it is taking a toll on our health as well as our mental wellbeing, let alone our relationships. Surveys suggest that there is a link between some of the high tech gadgets to anxiety, depression, marital dissatisfaction and many more.

Do you feel desperate to escape the digital trap?

To end the vicious cycle of digital devices in your life, people ask whether they need to step away entirely from these gadgets and while we think that would be FANTASTIC, I hate to say it but it is the way of the world. Today we do need these technologies, but it is possible with some easy steps, that you can still stay plugged in, but ‘detox’ at the same time. This will help you to feel more fulfilled, connected and calm. When these high tech gadgets no longer have a hold on your life, you will feel like you are starting to live again to the fullest because you are finding a balance between your work and your life.

No matter what your status is online, the fact of the matter is most of us spend heaps of time in front of a screen, sometimes at our laptops with the phone in hand. Many people realize and understand that some of their online connections feel more ‘real’ to them and impact more on them than their connections in the real physical world do. Therefore finding a balance or doing a digital detox can be rather hard to contemplate but it certainly can help.

I know how hard it is to leave for 24 hours and step away from the digital world all the time, so I found out what happens when you DO take a little bit of digital detox…

We develop deeper friendships and our posture improves

If you can go 3 days without any technology, you will notice that your posture improves. Your energy levels will start to improve too. Instead of looking down when you walk, like you’re still looking at your smartphone, you will stand up straighter and look more open to conversation, appearing more approachable. BAM!

Searching on Google make conversations disappear

The content of our conversations can change when we no longer have so much technology in our lives. If you are on the computer, you quickly look up answers to the things you need, but if you do not have the technology, and you are with a group of people who also don’t, you keep on talking, looking for and discussing the options and answers to the problem. These type of conversations form bonds because you get to know people more, gaining insights into what makes them tick – memories and bonds are made from lovely conversations.

I just laugh at this because how true is this! I know that if you are with a group of friends, everyone put their phones in the middle of the table, face down and whoever picks up their phone first has to pay for the whole tables dinner! I think that is genius!

Your memory improves

When you are a couple of days without technology, you kind of remember the finer details of things; you remember things people said a few days previously, such as names of people and places. Neuroscientists say the reason for this is that people are more ‘present’ when involved in a conversation, making their brains capable of processing and storing more Information more easily. With all the directions that technology is going today, people’s brains are not registering the more minor details anymore that are in fact so important when it comes to bonding and learning things about other people.

For example, do you forget where you park because you are on your phone when you head into the store? What about chatting with your spouse and then you asked him/her the same question that you already asked? I never do that! HA!

More and better sleep

Those who did take a break from the digital world to detox say they felt more rejuvenated, more free, more relaxed and ready for sleep. For those who didn’t, neuroscientists think this is because the lighting from computer screens suppresses the melatonin in your body, making us more alert as we go to sleep; not feeling ready for sleep in a natural relaxed way. There are studies which show that people who are looking at their phones just before going to sleep do not particularly get a good night’s rest, let alone straining their eyes

For us, we keep our phones in another room and actually use a good old alarm clock! With that said, we also try to unplug 30 minutes prior to going to bed BUT that doesn’t always happen. But it is something I am trying to really do!

When detoxing, you have changed perspectives

When people go offline, they “leave” technology behind for a bit, hoping to make other changes to their lives. Many people, it was discovered through findings, made changes to their relationships, their career or their health. Being away from the demands of the digital word allowed people to concentrate on more important issues. Kovert did a digital detoxing experiment and discovered that those who detoxed from digitization were adamant about making the way they viewed technology permanent. Many people on this experiment said it gave them the opportunity to make life changing decisions. People said they wanted to disconnect from technology at night time and also over weekends and “bask” in the benefits of detoxing during those times.

While, I was able to enjoy my 24 hour get away detox, I also know I won’t be able to do that on a month basis. It sounds ideal but there is something called life. With that said, I would like to make 4 steps moving into November:

  1. Off the phone/computer by 9pm
  2. Phone is not picked up when I am out to dinner with hubby, family and friends.
  3. Take 24 hours in a month without my phone or computer.
  4. Don’t get on my phone right away in the morning. Enjoy my coffee and some morning time with me!

Anyone want to join me and keep each other accountable? If so, make a comment below and let’s help each other out!


AUTHOR: Jen Rulon

I have been coaching triathletes, runners, and cyclists for over 21+ years; I received my Master's Degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science. And as you may have learned, there is more to life than swimming, biking, and running. It is a lifestyle, and I am here to help you cross that finish line with a smile, whether it is an Ironman Triathlon or the Ironman of Life. You can find my knowledge shared in Triathlete Magazine, Runners World, on the TEDx Stage, the Health and Wellness Expo in San Antonio, TX, Southwest Research Institute Human Performance Summit, Training Peaks Workshops, "Self Motivation Strategies for Women" on Amazon, Men's Journal Online, and the New York Times. I also practice what I preach—she's a 15x Ironman Triathlete who participated in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, on October 14, 2017.

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