In a world where we are constantly interconnected and flooded with updates/notifications on the latest Twitter trends, emails, and everything else, it’s safe to say that technology has taken over. The fact that Kylie and Kendall Jenner are representations of today’s teenage icons (for none other than being super stellar at social media/marketing) speaks for itself ― teenagers are embedded into online smartphone culture.
While addiction may sound a little harsh, smartphone addiction is actually very real. According to a 2012 study, 66% of people admitted to feeling “panicked” when separated from their phones. Although technology certainly has some benefits, there are some serious health side effects that come packaged with it as well.
For instance, research shows that people who use their cell phones for only half an hour every day for ten years double their risk for brain cancer (teenagers are four to five times more likely). We also have the infamous “text neck,” “text claw,” and “cell phone elbow” to worry about. A Northwestern University study found that frequent smartphone users are more likely to be anxious or depressed. On top of all of this, another 2012 study found that, due to the 24/7 availability smartphones allow us, the need to immediately read and respond to every single alert causes rising levels of stress. Not to mention the distractions social media and smartphones provide to teenagers during the school year.
Social media has a powerful hold over our youth. As a 15-year old trying to break the addiction, even though I do enjoy my fair share of Instagram and Pinterest (moderation is key here folks), here are some tips for disconnecting from the online world and making the most out of your summer.
1. Paint or color.
Coloring has been said to have “therapeutic potential to reduce anxiety, create focus or bring [about] more mindfulness.” It allows us to focus only on the moment, which can alleviate “free-floating” anxiety. Check out some of the top sellers for these adult coloring books here.
2. Read an actual book (on paper).
Reading an actual book ― rather than an ebook ― has been proven to boost retention along with aiding sleep problems and eyestrain. Reading in general can also improve your imagination and expand your understanding of what is possible in life! If you want some suggestions, here’s a list for the best up-and-coming young adult novels for 2016!
3. Watch a sunrise/sunset.
Studies show that states of awe improve happiness and our overall well-being! So, wake up, enjoy the sunrise, live in the moment, and leave the phone back at home!
4. Start a journal.
With all of the different types of journals out there ― art journals, dream journals, gratitude journals, stress journals etc. ― the options are endless! Writing down your feelings and thoughts on actual paper has been said to stretch your IQ, evoke mindfulness, boost emotional intelligence/comprehension, spark creativity, and improve communication skills. So figure out which one works for you and don’t hold back!
5. Do some yoga or other form of exercise.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. The health benefits that come along with exercise are bountiful! This link alone lists as least 38 health reasons to practice yoga. Not to mention these exercises can be done at home, free of charge! So get ready to get your Zen on.
6. Get outside.
For the same reasons listed above, getting active outdoors can make exercise seem even easier! Depending on where you live, activities such as kayaking, boating, hiking, paddle boarding etc. can spur weight loss, increase brain function, amp up your vitamin D intake, and even help you age “gracefully!”
7. Set some goals.
It’s never too late to reinvent yourself! Self-reflection is crucial to growth and innovation, as well as evaluating your current situation and processing your emotions. It can seem a bit intimidating to do at first, so if this is something that is new to you, here’s a great guide for self-reflection techniques!
8. Go to a concert.
Check out your favorite band or local venues playing near you!
9. Sell/donate stuff laying around your house.
Do that overdue spring-cleaning you’ve been putting off and organize your closet or pick up your garage. You can have a yard sale or donate your extra things to the nearest shelter! Organized individuals actually tend to be more optimistic and prepared! Perhaps you can use that new money for those concert tickets you’ve been meaning to go to...hint, hint.
10. Go on a long drive/walk with no destination in mind.
Put on a great playlist, jump in the car, and go on a relaxing drive. There have been numerous studies that show why driving can be a great de-stressor! If you’re too young to drive (or don’t have your license), you can always go on a scenic walk!