Switching off from work: digitally

There is something I find eminently satisfying about being able to flick a switch to close something down, from turning off a light, to shutting down a computer. It’s the signal that something is complete, it’s finished with, it’s time to rest.

In this hurly burly over busy, over stressified (sorry for the poorly made up word) and over technified world, having the ability to switch off is becoming increasingly important and often more difficult to attain.

But it is vitally important we do.

Our brain provides us the capacity to respond and interact with our world, but today’s workstyle has in many instances led to using our brain badly: by setting ourselves unworkable deadlines, by driving our brain to work longer and harder and by compromising on those things such as adequate sleep, healthy nutrition and doing regular physical exercise.

Mea Culpa. Yes, I’m probably one of the worst offenders along with many others – taking on too much and getting tired, frustrated and as a consequence producing less than brilliant work.

Which is why I now find myself about to embark on a three day wilderness walk – no phone, no internet, no direct connection with the outside world other than a GPS locator (for emergency – so yes I’m still connected in one small way) Happy in the knowledge that we will just be coping with the elements, sore feet and the reward of having completed the journey at the end.

But there are many other ways to switch off.
A new study suggests that digital gaming during leisure time is associated with better recovery from working stresses, especially when the online gaming involves interaction with others.

Whilst it might seem innocuous to use digital media to switch off from our work related digital technology, the way we handle our leisure time is changing very rapidly and the authors suggest we shouldn’t be surprised that we can use our digital technology in many different ways to influence our readiness and capability to work.

This is only one study and not without its flaws, but poses an interesting viewpoint at a time when being able to psychologically detach ourselves and relax away from our work environment is recognised as being crucial to our health and wellbeing.

So how do you switch off?
(Especially as it’s not always convenient to head off to the hills for a hike.)

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Ref:

Collins, E., & Cox, A. (2013). Switch on to games: Can digital games aid post-work recovery? International Journal of Human-Computer Studies DOI: 10.1016/j.ijhcs.2013.12.006

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