The advent of unlimited text messaging and the rise of social media channels have made getting in touch with friends and keeping up with their lives easier than ever. But for many of us, they have all but replaced face-to-face contact, a traditional way of communicating that social psychologists agree has far more value to most people in most social situations than virtual communication. When was the last time you hung out with your closest friends? When was the last time you hung out with your closest friends without looking at your smartphone every few minutes? Do you feel a bit disconnected from the ones you love? Why not disconnect from your life-controlling electronics instead and invite your favorite people over to catch up the way you used to, long before Facebook and Twitter feeds updated them on what is going on in their lives? To make communication at your next roommate dinner or dinner party with friends meaningful and memorable, follow the dinner unplugged tips provided below.
1. Switch off Your Phone
How often do you go an hour without checking your text messages, posting an update on Facebook, or playing a move in Words with Friends? If your answer to this question is “only when I’m sleeping,” you belong to the new normal. Mobile phones and other technological gadgets have made life more convenient, but they also have us spending hours every day doing things we didn’t do just a few years ago. Try to make a habit out of turning your phone on silent and ignoring it for a couple of hours every evening, especially when you are hanging out with your loved ones. It will bring more quality to the time you spend together.
2. Leave Work at Work
You may love your job, but chances are high that you work enough as it is. Some of us do not have a choice but to work at home some of the time. If you are working on a special project, preparing a brief or a presentation, or you have to be on-call for a client or patient who may need you during non-normal business hours, then you’ll have to bring work home with you. But try not to make a habit out of being available to your employer all the time unless your job, your happiness, or the success of your business depends on it. Instead, focus on being as productive as possible during your regular working hours and separating work time from personal time. Power down your work computer when you leave the office, and don’t hit that “on” button or log into your work e-mail account until you return to work the next morning. The same goes for weekends–keep that work computer unplugged.
3. Save the Shows for Later
Television affects us differently than mobile and computing technology, but a television set still has a digital screen. And our eyes and our minds need a break from those. Watching your favorite TV show can be a great way to wind down after a long day at work. TV can even be a social activity. But when we share laughter or tears with a friend over something that is going down on that digital screen, our attention is focused much more on the characters in a TV show than on the friend sitting next to us. Even if you bond with friends and family members over your favorite shows, make it a point to spend quality time away from the television with the ones you love.
4. Get Outside
There is something to said for spending time outdoors without having any electronics on your person. You are more or less forced to appreciate the plant life and landscape around you. You may find yourself making architectural observations you’ve never made before. You might stare at the sky and the clouds passing by, identifying shapes that appear to be painted by Mother Nature’s wonder. If you’re eating dinner and all of a sudden you notice that the sun is setting, invite your companions to follow you outside and watch the sunset together. Or step outside for a breath of fresh air and an after-dinner drink while your dishes soak in the sink so that they will be easier to clean later on. Our forebears did not have the technological gadgets we have to distract themselves from the beauty of the outdoors, but just because we have smartphones and notebooks does not mean that we need to neglect all that nature has to offer. We can enjoy the best of both worlds, but we can’t get in touch with nature and reap the health benefits of spending time outdoors without taking breaks from our electronics.
5. Make it Regular
If you can work a couple of hours of non-screen time into your schedule each evening, you will realize a host of benefits. You will experience less stress. You may feel more connected to your roommates, family, and friends, especially if they take a break from modern technology at the same time as you do. You will start to appreciate things that you have long since forgotten to appreciate since you started spending every spare second you have staring at a screen. You may even start to sleep better and feel more productive.
There is more to life than tablets, smartphones, and HDTV. Living in an AMLI luxury apartment home, you’ve got a lot to work with. Take a walk around your apartment grounds each evening. Take advantage of your home’s convenient location by meeting friends at an idyllic hangout nearby. Go for a swim in the pool or work off some extra steam at the fitness center. When we switch off our mobile devices and make them off-limits to ourselves for just a few hours, we make more time for ourselves and the ones we love. Live Life + Love Life. Unplugged.