5 surprising benefits of taking a digital sabbatical

I just took my family on camping trip in the woods of northern Arizona. I barely had cell service, so I couldn’t be on Twitter or Facebook or check my website stats. I went for walks, played with my kids, laughed with my friends, and enjoyed the cool weather.

I was reminded of how great it is to get a digital “reset,” a rest, a sabbatical. It’s really one of the most refreshing habits you can have in today’s world. Trust me, you need to do this if you don’t already. Here are 5 surprising benefits of taking a digital sabbatical for a day for a day or two–or longer.

1) Get more restful sleep

Studies have shown that “screen time” before bed tends to mess with your body’s ability to differentiate waking and sleeping hours. This can contribute to difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep during the night. Take just the evening off of technology, and you could feel drastically more rested the next morning.

2) Refresh your relationships

You will see the difference it makes to your kids to listen to them without checking out to glance at that text message. You’ll begin to perceive more about your significant other, because they will have your full attention. You will be amazed at how the quality and depth of your conversations and interactions with others is improved when there’s no device in your hand.

3) Regain some perspective

I know that for me, my “online life” can easily become all-encompassing. Critical comments on my blog or a dip in website traffic or a bit of Facebook drama can seem urgently important. When I unplug and take a step back, I realize that none of it is the end of the world. In fact, I’ll be just fine. When you put a little distance between yourself and the digital world, you’re making room for the important things to surface.

4) Grow spiritually

In today’s world, solitude and silence seem like luxuries. Yet, they are essential for honest self-reflection, emotional healing, and hearing God’s voice. If you are not making time to unplug for extended periods, you are probably stunting your own spiritual growth. Don’t neglect the important spiritual discipline of the digital fast.

5) Get stuff done

Science proves that multitasking is a myth. In fact, it could lower your IQ. You can’t effectively do more than one thing at time. When you’re constantly getting distracted by emails, “social” invites and Facebook debates, you can’t concentrate the way you’d like on important projects. Disconnect and get some work done with classic tools like pen and paper. Do chores. Build something. Make plans, brainstorm, be creative.

How would disconnecting from the distractions of the digital-age benefit you? Let me know in the comments!

9 thoughts on “5 surprising benefits of taking a digital sabbatical

  1. Loved this post brother! I especially can relate to the one about relationships. As a first time father and my son getting to the age of 16 months, I find I need to be much more intentional about keeping the phone off to the side and keeping my focus on him. The rest of the points are right on as well.

    1. Thanks Bryan! Being on the phone too much around the kids is a constant temptation for me…but I notice such a huge impact when I give them my un-distracted attention.

  2. good to hear about your digital Sabbath Nathan. I’ve not been the Best at keeping one recently but when I have, I’ve found immense benefits. Thanks for the prompt to restart keeping mine.

    1. You are welcome! Thanks as always for reading. I am really starting to understand rest a discipline…which is somewhat counter-intuitive, especially in the American cultural context.

  3. I think it’s also important to have regular times during the day and during the week when we are removed from technology. For me this really helps me to keep the focus I need as I study God’s Word.

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