Be honest - how long can you last without scrolling the ‘gram or checking your emails? If the thought of missing out on a notification or not being able to stream your favourite show makes you break out in a sweat, then you might be due for a digital detox.
We all need a break from technology now and again, even a small one can help your mind and body to relax and recharge. Putting away our addictive little devices can result in a range of benefits, such as feeling less stressed, getting better sleep, boosted energy levels, and more productivity.
So what exactly is a digital detox?
A digital detox is when you refrain from using technology for a period of time - think smartphones, computers, televisions, tablets and the like. It means abstaining from checking emails, scouring the internet, streaming shows, scrolling social media apps and so on.
Why do you need a digital detox?
A digital detox can help you take back some control over your day-to-day life. We unknowingly spend so much time looking at screens. On one hand, technology is an undeniably good thing as it opens doors for us in many ways - at the touch of the button iit offers us connection, knowledge and instant gratification. But on the other hand, it has created an always on culture - we are inescapably available to anyone, at any time.
Putting some personal boundaries in place when it comes to digital devices not only protects yourself from all the blue cast, but it allows you to have a more balanced relationship with technology when you return to it.
How do I start a digital detox?
The good news is, you don’t have to venture to the middle of nowhere to benefit from a digital detox.
First, establish how much time you spend with technology. If you have an iPhone, you can check your most-used apps and average screen time in your phone’s settings. You can view your most-used apps, how often you pick up your phone, and even how many notifications you receive per app. You may be surprised at the results!
Then, think about how often you use screens throughout your day. Do you look at your phone as soon as you wake up? Do you switch between your phone and computer at work all day? Do you watch TV while you eat dinner?
Decide how much time you want to detox for - a few hours, a day, a weekend? We all have commitments so it may be hard to completely switch off from the demands of the technological world but even a small break will have a great effect.
Now it’s time to set some ground rules. Here are some steps you can take for a stress-free digital detox at home:
Set time boundaries: Schedule technology-free hours every day, stay away from your phone during meals, don’t look at your phone for at least an hour after you wake up, and limit any TV or screen time before bed. Instead, use this time to connect with loved ones, exercise, read, journal, or step out in nature.
Use your phone with purpose: When you want to use your phone, consider the reason why. If it involves negative coping behaviors like avoidance of an activity, think about how you can better handle that feeling.
Set physical boundaries: If you have trouble putting down your phone or TV remote, try storing it in another room to discourage yourself from using it. Hide it away! If you always check your phone in the morning, try keeping it in another room every night and revert back to a good old fashioned alarm clock to wake you up each morning.
Turn off notifications: Oxford University published a paper on digital health and found that “problematic smartphone use is facilitated by characteristics of the technology including the frequency of alerts and messages. Popular apps, like the Facebook app, are designed in ways that increase the amount of time people spend on them.” You might think that you're keeping yourself in the loop by receiving constant updates on what’s happening in the world, but it’s also very distracting. If you're being interrupted by notifications several times in an hour you are never properly focused on the task at hand, and will find yourself reaching for your phone time and time again. Turn off as many notifications as you can live without.
Introduce the 'one screen rule': When watching TV for instance, hide your smartphone, laptop or tablet, so that you’re just focusing on one gadget at a time. Most people have two or three screens at a time all within easy reach. (Hands up who watches Netflix and scrolls through the ‘gram at the same time? I see you!) It might not feel like proper detoxing, but by allowing yourself to concentrate on just one you will help to ease the feelings of anxiety and restlessness that tech over-exposure can cause.
Use a blocking app: There are so many apps out there now that can block certain websites and apps on your phone or computer to help you focus. There’s bound to be something to suit you and your plans to unplug.
Keep busy: This is the perfect time to focus on other hobbies that you’ve been pushing to the side. Think about what you want to do instead - spend time with your family, read that book collecting dust in the corner, practice meditation, get your sweat on with a workout, get creative, listen to a podcast, practice gratitude, implement self-care routines, or simply head outside and enjoy your surroundings without taking a photo of it.
Don’t be afraid to disconnect - embrace it! Use this time to put yourself first. You deserve it!
How do you unplug from technology? Let me know in the comments below!