Digital disconnection to regain your reading habits
A blanket, a couch… and books. Or a swimming pool, a towel… and books also. Living fast-paced adventures in foreign countries, solving a murder with our intuition and a few clues, or feeling a passionate romance are some of the experiences that we can have when reading a good novel.
A good volume provides many hours of enjoyment, expands our vocabulary, develops critical thinking (do we like what we are reading? Have we changed our world view after we have read?), and allows us to maintain a conversation with other people. But, in order to maintain concentration for a good while we need to disconnect from the rest of the world.
Turning off the Smartphone, the computer or the tablet and picking up that book that is collecting dust on the bedside table is a good habit that our brain will appreciate. The Spanish Society of Neurology has highlighted its multiple benefits to our health: it prevents the loss of cognitive functions, it exercises memory, stimulates neurons, improves mood or reduces stress.
Some scientists are advocating for a movement called slow reading, similar to slow food, which implies disconnecting from notifications or avoiding the temptation to take a look at our devices while we are reading a good content text. Neurologists are researching how the flood of information that goes through our eyes every day is affecting our brain. They are also concerned about whether the way in which children are learning to read and understand is changing for the worse, since now children have access to electronic devices from a very early age.
Since digital dependence can cause several disorders, such as feeling depressed when we snoop at our Facebook wall, or feeling anxious if nobody answers our WhatsApp text messages, there is nothing like getting rid of our devices during a few hours and take refuge in a book. These are the best advices to revisit a childhood habit, when there were not so many screens around.
20 minutes without mobiles
First of all, set aside a time for yourself and that book, a time to disconnect from everything and everybody. With 20 minutes or half an hour a day, to begin with, is enough. If it is difficult for you to find that time, try before going to sleep: you will go to bed far away from the screens and their damaging light and at the same time you will feel relaxed and ready to fall asleep.
And what better way than with a good story. Choose books or stories that have a certain length in order to increase your attention span. When you finish, don’t run to check your notifications. In fact, if you don’t turn off the devices, at least disconnect the notification alerts since, when you listen to them (and answer them) you lose your concentration and will have to start all over again.
Your spot to disconnect
Just before going to sleep, or at any other moment, and with the purpose to reach concentration and improve our health, we must create a kind of reading ritual. To that aim, we will read at a peaceful place in our home, at a library, or in a quiet public park. Some people like reading at a small terrace while drinking a glass of wine, a tea, or a coffee; if you can identify with this scenario, look for a terrace that you like, and if it proudly doesn´t have Wi-Fi all the better. In any case, make sure that the chairs are comfortable.
Mobile phones must also be forbidden in reading clubs, where the devices must be silenced and all the attention must be focused on the fellows, on the points they are making, that we can refute or support. The conversation will improve our social abilities and will broaden our world view. Ask in your closest library if they know of any reading club or create your own with some friends. The goal is to keep reading.
Look for addictive books
There are many good books that can enable you to revisit this beautiful habit. The Hunger Games saga, by Suzanne Collins, or the thriller Gone Girl, written by Gillian Flynn and taken to the big screen by David Fincher, are addictive enough to read non-stop until the very end, and once you finish you will feel like looking for related books. If you like TV series, it is a good moment to compare the versions of Game of Thrones (based on the saga A Song of Ice and Fire) or The Handmaid’s Tale; again, it forces you to think: why this was not added in the TV series? Is it a true adaptation?
Humor books, more relaxing, will make us laugh and feel so good that we won’t miss the applications. One classic is Without news of Gurb, by Eduardo Mendoza. Mendoza, the latest writer recipient of the Cervantes award has written many other humor novels that you can’t forego.
In any case, choose always based on the pleasure, your preferences or a good recommendation. If you don’t like what you are reading, just stop reading that book and start a new adventure. As the days go by, the habit will be established and you will realize that you don’t miss taking a peek at the social networks before going to sleep or when you are on public transport. Your body will thank you.