This article first appeared in the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amancay-tapia/how-to-switch-off-to-swit_b_12062674.html?

Technology has brought many joys and pleasures, but just like medicines, it has side effects and you better take it only when you really need it and ideally in small doses. When I made the video below, I wanted to talk about our obsession with smartphones and social media and the fact that we are connected 24/7. This never ending connectivity has had a knock-on effect on our physical and mental wellbeing. Here are 4 simple tips on how to switch off technology for a bit to switch on and start living again.

1. Schedule the times / days you go on social media

What’s the point in constantly checking Facebook,Twitter, Instagram? Focus instead on the things and the people that do make a real difference in your life. Don’t miss the best moments of your daily life by constantly staring at lifeless screens. There is also a new “species” created as a result of social media , the “online socialite”. Extremely friendly and good at online relationships but meet them in person and you will meet a human being incapable of relaxing, incapable of having time off. A conversation is no longer an exchange of thoughts and observations but a potential update on social media with endless pictures of what you ate, drunk, and where you met.Certain aspects of a person’s life must remain private for the preservation of one’s sanity.

2. Have a Spa/ Hotel break if you need to find some solitude and recharge batteries.

If it is too difficult to go offline or to deactivate your social media accounts, try and treat yourself to a Spa/Hotel break. At 5 and a half months pregnant I took a two day vacation in a lush 18th Century Georgian manor House in the English countryside to escape not only the daily stress of living in a big city but what was becoming an intolerant need to check my smartphone. I travelled alone to the hotel for two days in order for me to reconnect with myself and my unborn baby. It is a bit of a luxurious treat but worth it as both body and mind will feel better for it and you will be ready to take on the world again after switching off completely in Spa heaven.

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The Majestic Sopwell House

3. Create Offline memories by being present in your daily life

Any life is made up of a single moment, the moment in which a person finds out, once and for all, who he/she is. How are you gonna do this if your mind is always occupied with the online world? Solitude, time off, time away and phones off will help you not only to find yourself but to think clearly too. As Goethe said “Character develops itself in the stream of life”. Many people take no care of their money till they come nearly to the end of it, and others do just the same with their time, so value it. Time is precious.

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Pregnancy has been the best time for me to Switch off

4. Deactivate your accounts from time to time or delete the apps from your smart phones

The Internet is controlling us. But it should be the other way round. You should be the one in control of your online life. Are you using your devices and the Internet to improve your daily life or are they taking over your life? Do you wake up and enjoy the peace and quiet of the early morning to think and reflect on the day ahead or do you turn on your tablet and open Facebook ? The more time we spend interconnected via our devices, the less time we have left to develop true friendships in the real world. In fact the word ‘friend’ has become  void of meaning in a world governed by social media. If you are the president of the United States, I get it you need to be connected all times. For a mere mortal, no point really. Enjoy life and live it to the fullest cause there is only one and it is an offline one.

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