Take a little break from technology and enjoy life


Technology devices can be highly addictive. Next year, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will include a new entry called “Internet use disorder” in its appendix. This disorder reflects a dangerous trend in our society’s growing dependence to electronic devices and how it can lead to addictive behavior. In fact, researchers have found that during computer game playing, dopamine is released into the brain to stimulate pleasure. Dopamine is a significant chemical in the cycle of addiction.
In America, it seems nearly everyone is “wired” to high-tech gadgets. Smartphone, iPads, laptops, personal computers, videogame terminals and television sets – technology dominates our lives. Many of us are lured into the stream of continuous information stimulation – the pings and rings of these devices serving as a Siren song. Information overload from high-tech devices can damage social relationship and negatively impact academic performance among young people in schools.
Morgan Hill Access TV (cable channel 19 in Morgan Hill) encourages you and your family members to take time away from high-tech and give your brain a break from digital stimulation. One good way to do this is to take up yoga or meditation to develop an attitude of mindfulness. These practices do not necessarily have to be done in a religious or spiritual context. Some local gyms and community centers provide yoga instruction that works out the brain as well as the body. Local libraries have resources that instruct how to practice mindfulness meditation.
MHAT-19 also recommends turning off devices and tuning into the beauty of nature. If you have children, suggest that they also take a break from their electronics and explore the wonders of the great outdoors. Here in the South Valley region, we have many great community parks to visit and find physical exercise as well as mental recreation. Our region is also blessed with numerous wilderness areas to explore in long hikes.
In the Diablo Range east of Morgan Hill and Gilroy, we have Henry W. Coe State Park, the second largest state park in California. With more than 89,000 acres, Coe State Park has an abundance of trails. Terrain range from easy pine and oak forests strolls to arduous mountain ridge treks. Along Hecker Pass west of Gilroy is the redwood-covered Mt. Madonna County Park which provides relaxing strolls under the canopy of beautiful trees and along meandering creeks.
In San Martin, you can find Harvey Bear Ranch County Park which has a two-mile paved loop for easy walks as well as hard-core hiking in the hills where you can get close to cattle grazing on the grass. If you’re into boating and fishing, the Santa Clara County park system has several excellent reservoirs to enjoy, including Andersen, Coyote and Uvas reservoirs.
In San Benito County, you’ll also find wilderness to explore. Pinnacles National Monument 40 minutes south of Hollister on Highway 25 is an out-of-this-world adventure for you and your family as you trek through this area that was an active volcano millions of years ago. Fremont Peak State Park, 12 miles west of San Juan Bautista in the Gabilan Range, is perfect for camping or star-gazing. The craggy peak provides awe-inspiring views of the Monterey Bay region.
For most people, it takes some effort to make a habit of getting away from technology. But many high-tech companies in this region are, ironically, encouraging workers to reduce their digital dependence and spend time with their families. It pays off in healthier and more productive employees.
People need balance. Too often, we let ourselves get caught in the trap of technology and develop a pathological relationship with devices. High-tech does enhance our lives, and they provide a way for us to connect and interact with each other. But when they become addictive, they become destructive. By occasionally disconnecting from these devices, you can have more intimate and authentic relationships with your friends and families and achieve a happier, more well-adjusted life.

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