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Most us have heard about the supposed benefits of “unplugging” on vacation. Ever since email and electronic devices began virtually tying workers to the office even during their time off, countless studies and articles have been published urging people to actually power off when on holiday.Story continues belowBeing able to truly relax and rest has been shown to boost productivity, increase creativity, and reduce the long-term risks of potentially fatal ailments such as heart disease.READ MORE: ‘Burnout’ is a thing, doctors say. Here are the symptomsBut what actually happens to your brain when you power down your phone and forget about your inbox?Studies have shown that people engage in deeper, more meaningful conversations in the absence of mobile devices. Even when people aren’t actively checking them, the mere awareness that their smartphone is turned on and close by leads to distracted, lower-quality interactions, the evidence suggests.That’s because if you’re even wondering about what might be happening on your phone – even if you don’t look – your brain is multi-tasking. The reason why we have better conversations when the phone is turned off is that we are most efficient when we are focused on one thing at a time, according to Dr. Shimi Kang, a Vancouver-based psychiatrist and frequent speaker on the subject of workplace and mental health.READ MORE: 3 steps to teach your brain to manage stress and crush it at work“Devoting your full attention to something is like meditation,” she added. This, in turn, activates your prefrontal cortex.Three main things happen to a brain in a meditative state, according to Dr. Rebecca Gladding, a Hawaii-based psychiatrist.First, there’s a withering of the connection between the body’s sensation and fear centres and the area of the prefrontal cortex that is involved in processing information related to you and people you perceive as being similar to you. This decreases your tendency to think that something is wrong and that you are problem. As a result, anxiety levels tend to go down.Second, meditation helps form a stronger link between your sensory centres and the area of the prefrontal cortex that allows you to “look at things from a more rational, logical and balanced perspective,” according to Gladding.READ MORE: Should new parents unplug for the first 30 days? Experts say yesThird, the brain also forms a stronger bond between your bodily sensations and the part of the prefrontal cortex that processes information about people who you see as different from you, which boosts your ability for empathy and for evaluating situations from someone else’s perspective.Allow your brain to wander and you’ll be rewarded with greater problem-solving abilities, better ideas, and, potentially, important breakthroughs, said Kang.Meditation also turns on “your moral compass,” which improves your people skills, another key professional asset.That’s why sitting by the pool fully engrossed in a new novel will yield much higher returns in terms of future mental prowess when you return to your job than if you were checking your phone every few pages, she added.WATCH: The benefits of taking a vacation