We’re constantly plugged in, and as a millennial content creator, I feel like I’m constantly checking my phone or working on the computer.
Sometimes, I even binge Netflix movies when I could be interacting a bit more with family. I also tend to take my phone with me from room to room just for the sake of having it. Worse yet, even when I’m washing the dishes I listen to music through my iPod (yes, I know quite dated but hey, they still work)!
More often than not, it’s been found that individuals are becoming more and more co-dependent on technology. A study even finding 51% of surveyed individuals admitted to suffering from “extreme tech anxiety,” when separated from their devices such as smartphones or tablets.
Want to know what’s even more troubling? Researchers found that social media appears to promote narcissism, smartphones could be causing insomnia, and screens seem to be making kids less empathetic. Moreover, they found that time and time again, overusing technology makes it more difficult to focus on the experiences that truly bring you value.
So while technology is well-ensconced into our daily lives, if we want to have a healthy relationship with it, we have to shift our dependency and take a serious digital detox.
What’s a Digital Detox?
A digital detox is a period of time where a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones, computers, or social media platforms.
The cool thing about a digital detox, is that you can make it work for you. You might want to try giving up all digital devices for a time or you might want to focus on restricting your use of just one type of digital device.
Very Well Mind suggests trying some of these ideas:
- A digital fast. Try giving up all digital devices for a short period of time, such as a day or up to a week
- Recurrent digital abstinence. Pick one day of the week to go device-free
- A specific detox. If one app, site, game, or digital tool is taking up too much of your time, focus on restricting your use of that problematic item
- A social media detox. Focus on restricting or even completely eliminating your social media use for a specific period of time
How Long Does a Detox Last?
It’s totally up to you! Half a day sound good? Go for it! If a month-long retreat is more your speed, by all means, say sayonara to the digital world! The point is to find what works for you and to stick with it. Starting small definitely sets you up for success as well as exercising moderation.
Pro tip: If you want to jumpstart your detox, – when you’re out and about, try positioning yourself where there’s a weak connection or even turning off your wi-fi off when you’re home – that’ll curb temptation!
How to Start
Starting small is the biggest key for success in starting a digital detox. Remember we’re changing a mindset here!
- Tidy your apps. Clear those that are unused, unhealthy, or simply unproductive.
- Update your Screen Time Settings. Put healthy limits in place for social media and other time-consuming areas.
- Change your notifications. Unsubscribe from email newsletters that clutter your inbox and try turning off the vibration setting on your phone.
- Swear off screens after dark or a specific time that works for you. Once that time arrives, keep your phone, laptop, and TV powered off. Shutting off electronics can help you fall asleep earlier without distractions
Pro-tip: Try giving special callers a specific ringtone so you don’t miss truly important calls.
What to Do Instead?
- Get creative. Draw, dance, write, paint, or get creative in the kitchen
- Work out. Exercise is good for your brain, your body, in addition to your mental health. You don’t need a ton of time to reap the benefits of a good workout.
- Spend time with people you love. Grab lunch or dinner with a friend you haven’t seen in ages. Make an effort to have meaningful conversations with your partner. Play boards game with the family. The goal is to create memories that you can’t replicate with technology or a phone in front of your face.
- Unwind. If technology is an important part of your self-care routine, make sure you’re replacing that time with something else that gives you peace.
- Go to sleep. Once you start limiting screen use, you might discover that you start feeling more tired earlier in the evening. That’s your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle telling you to go to bed. Listen to it.