In our hyperconnected world, it can be an incredible challenge to disconnect from our numerous devices. Sure, this level of connection has many benefits – we can easily stay in touch with family and friends, share our experiences on social media, and manage multiple tasks at once. However, there are also many drawbacks that can create disadvantages in our lives. While scrolling through social feeds and playing games can deliver an instant sense of pleasure, the behaviors can become addictive. In addition to physical symptoms like neck pain, too much time spent on devices can have adverse effects on our mental and intellectual health, such as lowering our attention span.
How a Digital Detox Can Help
Even a short break from technology and connected devices can help you relax and recharge.Taking a break from all of the technology can improve your relationships, sleep, productivity, and even your self-esteem. If you find yourself checking social media as soon as you wake up, jumping to read every notification, or feeling anxious over a lost internet connection, then a detox may be just what the doctor ordered. Stepping away from technology will oftentimes show you reasons why your digital attachment is becoming toxic. This was the exact case when Roxanne, a coach and advocate for abuse survivors and mental health at www.theblacksheepsurvives.com, took a month offline due to burnout. Roxanne said “I noticed people becoming more demanding of my time on an aggressive manner. Unplugging made the entitlement from others stop quite quickly. I noticed areas where my boundaries were crossed.
Quitting cold turkey for even a short period of time can feel overwhelming, and the good news is that you don’t have to quit every interaction with all of your devices to experience the benefits. Here are a few things that you can try right now to help you detox from your digital devices.
1) Schedule Time Away
Depending on how you use your digital devices, you may be in constant contact with clients, customers, coworkers, and others demanding some of your time. At times, these individuals can become pushy and even aggressive when trying to get your attention. If this is something that you have experienced, scheduling some time each day can be incredibly beneficial to your mental health and emotional well-being. Whether it is an hour or two each day, or one day out of the week, stepping away from your devices, notifications, and those trying to stay in constant contact with you gives you time to recoup, recharge, and reinforce your boundaries.
2) Stop Bringing Your Phone To Bed
First thing is first, get yourself an actual alarm clock and stop relying on the alarm on your phone. Once you take care of this, you no longer have to bring your phone to bed with you to ensure that you wake up on time. It is common for us to become distracted by our phones when we are trying to fall asleep. Phones emit blue light, which can tell your body that you aren’t quite ready for sleep. This is why many experts suggest you stop using your phone about an hour before bedtime. Another downside to bringing your phone to bed is that you still receive notifications which can also act as a distraction while you are sleeping. Leave your phone across the room or in another room to ensure that you can get a good night’s rest and wake up the next day feeling refreshed.
3) Set Time Limits For Your Phone
How often do you hop on a social media platform expecting to scroll for just a few minutes, and one or more hours later, you realize that you’ve lost track of time and spent way more time than expected mindlessly scrolling? Unfortunately, most of us unknowingly waste a great deal of time playing games, looking at social media, and entertaining ourselves in other ways. Setting screen time limits that you hold yourself accountable for is an effective way to ensure that you aren’t losing too much of your day to mindless scrolling.
4) Remind Yourself of Offline Activities That You Love
As screen time continues to monopolize our time, it is easy to forget about the things that we used to do when these devices weren’t so easily accessible. Working out, reading, spending more time with loved ones, outdoor activities – the list goes on. These things often bring great amounts of joy to our daily lives, and forgetting to partake in the activities that we once enjoyed so much can bring down your mood and affect your mental health. So make a list of all of the things you love to do and consider how too much screen time may impact your ability to take part in the activities you used to enjoy.
5) Schedule Time Away From Screens With Loved Ones
Reach out to your friends and your family to schedule some screen-less time – televisions included. When mom three, Silvia wanted a digital break she knew that the only way it would be possible was if she persuaded the whole family. Everyone agreed and headed up to the family country home for a week without gadgets. Sylvia recalls “the first two days, it was glorious. I realized how artificially busy our lives normally are, with our phones chirping all the time concocting tension and hundreds of micro-stress situations EVERY single hour of our lives.” You don’t need a country escape to take time away from screens with loved ones. Go for a hike, head to a museum, or simply pick an activity that you all enjoy and agree to leave the devices behind. You will have the opportunity to reconnect on a new level without the digital presence.
6) Take Advantage Of Your Devices’ Features
To eliminate extra distractions from your phone and other devices on a daily basis, you can easily manage how you interact with them. Most smart devices allow you to turn off phone notifications from specific apps. There are also available apps that allow you to limit your time in certain apps or turn off access during selected times. This can allow you to take more control over how you use your devices.
Taking time away from your phone provides so many benefits. You have the chance to step away from stressful interactions and apps that waste your time. While many of the apps on your devices may provide a temporary dose of entertainment or pleasure, they affect your peace of mind over time and make it harder for you to enjoy the things that are going on right in front of you. Spending more time away from your devices improves your self-confidence, self-esteem, physical and mental health, and peace of mind.
TL;DR: We all know technology has many benefits but we also know that it can sometimes have drawbacks. Too much technology can have adverse effects on our mental and intellectual health, lowering our attention span, hindering our relationships, and negatively impacting our self esteem. For a lot of people, escaping technology altogether is not an option (hello bills that need to be paid) which is when a digital detox comes into play. Digital detoxes allow you to reap the benefits of stepping away from technology without quitting cold turkey. Start by scheduling time away from your digital devices, making your phone off limits in bed, or by giving yourself a set time you can spend scrolling on your phone. Remind yourself of all the offline activities you love, or better yet, schedule activities away from your screens with your loved ones. It doesn’t matter how you choose to do it, a break from digital is sure to leave you feeling refreshed.