05/11/2016 04:52 pm ET Updated May 12, 2017

A Realistic Guide to Taking a Digital Detox

By: Kimberly Jordan Allen

Mounting research shows that constant connectivity takes a serious toll on our health. Learn how your devices are affecting you, and the best ways to unplug.

There's a scene in a Portlandia episode where Fred is caught in a technology loop. All of his devices are pinging, updating, and under his breath he starts quietly crying for help as he furiously responds to each Pavlovian cue. The scene, though totally hilarious, is revealing about the way tech can impact our lives when not utilized with moderation and with firm boundaries. The impact of tech is evident and it has now become crucial to unplug. Unplugging is just as important to our well-being as water, exercise, mental health, and yoga.

Studies are finding interesting side effects of technology. We've known for a few years that excessive mobile use can impact psychological distress and anxiety, and one study released this year found that mobile dependence and problematic use is a direct factor in the development of mental illness, specifically in populations that use devices to avoid negative experiences or feelings. Another very recent study found a distinct correlation between cellphone-distracted parents and stunted emotional development in infants. Findings from this initial research revealed that when caregivers are distracted by devices, important consistency cues may not happen due to tech disruption and can be missed by the child, potentially leading to lasting distress.

Related: A Meditation for the In-Between Moments of the Day

The phrase "digital detox" was added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online in August 2013. There is a growing body of research about the impact of technology, specifically hand-held devices, on our daily lives as well and it has become culturally normative to see the need for distance from these tools. A lack of moderation in mobile use and our hyper-connected habits have been linked to selfishness, sleep issues, increased anxiety, and a distinctive lack of recovery time for the brain. On top of this, recent findings show that the body's circadian rhythm is being altered by artificial light in the evenings, making it hard for people to unwind. Connectivity has us turned on but without the necessary time away from the ubiquitous devices, we are essentially becoming turned off.

To continue reading this article and learn simple ways to protect yourself from device saturation, view the original piece on Sonima.

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