This is a copy of an article I wrote for the Billericay & Wickford Gazette
Research has shown that our increasing dependency on social media means that many of us are not getting the rest we need – especially when we go on holiday. In fact, free from workplace constraints, some people spend even more time on the web. But there is no better time than a summer break (vacation or staycation) to reduce our use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Email and the rest!
Taking time out from the busyness of life is a Biblical principle and was established by God at the beginning of time in Genesis chapter one (the first book of the Bible) when, after creating ‘the heavens and the earth’, God rested on the seventh day – this is where the term ‘Sabbath’ comes from.
Jesus, too, recognised the importance of rest and recovery from the daily grind and, in the Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament) he was often to be found jumping into a boat and crossing over to the other side of Lake Galilee to ‘escape’ from the crowds. At other times, he would go up to a mountainside to reflect and pray. This reminds us that Jesus was human just like us and struggled with tiredness and needed to take time out to recover.
Unfortunately, because of working from home, Sunday trading and Sunday sport, many people do not have the opportunity for a day of rest from their busy routine and suffer the consequences of this – such as an increase in stress related illnesses and a breakdown in family relationships – which is why a refreshing summer break is so important. So, this summer, why not take time to switch off!
Switching off is good for your body: We all spend far too long staring down at screens and the subsequent negative exposure to ‘blue light’ – especially at night. Don’t forget that holidays are supposed to be where we rest and relax, and we can’t switch off if we are permanently switched on.
Switching off is good for your mind: Psychologists suggest that the overload of information we get from using the Internet and social media is changing the way the brain works. Memory skills are in decline, and we no longer reason in a linear fashion but now think in disconnected fragments. Many frequent users of the Internet confess to struggling to read through a chapter of a book. Switch off on holiday and, in digital silence, let your mind be at peace. Try reading that book you’ve been meaning to read or start a new hobby.
Switching off is good for your relationships: Holidays are a much needed opportunity to connect with those around us. There are many people, and families, living busy lives who go away on holiday needing to spend time talking together, building bonds or even healing wounds. Yet, sadly, this may not occur because they are too busy staring at their smartphones. To put social media before connecting with your family is to make a tragic statement about what matters most in your life.
Switching off is good for your spirit: Some people have such an intense relationship with their smart phone that it can only be described as idolatry – some would call it an addiction. We were created to relate to each other, and to God, and it’s all too easy for the digital world to get in the way of both relationships.
If you really want to make the most of your summer holidays this year, digitally switch off whilst and re-connect with your spouse, partner, family, friends and with God.