Do you need a digital detox? While technology has made our lives easier in many ways, studies show that the constant use of digital technology can also make us less focused, less productive and less social while also making us feel more stressed. The constant streaming of digital technology can strain your relationships, ruin a good night’s sleep, and has even been linked to health concerns ranging from eye and neck strain to Attention Deficit Disorder to cancer.
Don’t get me wrong. I am huge fan of technology. It allows me to reach so many people I would not otherwise be able to help. But, it can also be a huge distraction, and for some people it can be a crutch or even an outright addiction. So, how do you know if it’s a problem for you?
When you hear the familiar chime of an incoming message, do you drop whatever you’re doing and check your phone?
Do you feel anxious when you’re unable to check your social media updates?
Do you panic when you lose your smart phone?
Have you ever texted while driving?
If you said “yes” to any of these questions, then technology is hijacking your life and it’s probably time for a digital detox.
Here are some ways you can disconnect to reclaim your life and possibly your health:
- Be intentional. Like any other detox program, you need a plan. Define what you will give up, why and for how long. For example, you may decide to give up checking email on your mobile device from Friday after work until first thing Monday morning each week for a month. Or perhaps you decide that you are not going to check work emails from home at night for one week. Write down your goals and track your success in a journal. You can even say your goals out loud in a short phrase that you can repeat to yourself, such as “I’m forging better relationships,” “I have more time to exercise,” or “I feel less stress and more joy.” You can do this in front of a mirror, or while tapping.
- Wake Up. Don’t look at your phone first thing in the morning. When you wake up in the morning and immediately turn your phone on to see a list of notifications it frames your day around a list of all the things you missed yesterday or need to do today. Instead, create a mindful morning ritual and check your messages afterwards
- Set limits. The average person checks their phone 150 times a day. Set limits for how many times you look at your phone, whether you’re checking email, social media, voice mails, or texts. For example, you can set your smart phone alarm as a reminder to check your notifications once per hour. Then, once you’ve taken a few minutes to check your messages and respond to any urgent matters, put your phone down and don’t check it again until your alarm goes again. Similarly, you can set your email to pop every 15 minutes instead of looking for new emails every 30 seconds. Once you set your message-checking schedule, stick to it for at least one week. Then, assess if it worked well for you. If not, adjust things and try a new schedule for a full week. If you find you simply can’t stick to a schedule, try using an app, such as AppDetox, to block you from over-checking your phone.
- Clean up your friends list. Staying “friended” to people with whom you haven’t spoken in ages is the equivalent of keeping up with the Jones’s. I mean, if you didn’t speak to someone in high school, do you need to know what their grand kids are doing over summer break? By contrast, when you are fully engaged in the moment with your real friends, your life has meaning and you experience true connection and joy. Try using your social media to keep in touch just with the people you truly like and want to connect with. Then, get out and spend time with your friends in person.
- Let go of FOMO. The fear of missing out (FOMO) keeps many of us glued to our devices. We are afraid we will miss something important or fall behind in some way when we are not online. Plus, social media can become an unspoken competition to get likes, comments and more. Try logging out, stop your notifications for a while, or even close your social media accounts temporarily. Trust me, you won’t miss what you don’t see.
- Be polite. You wouldn’t interrupt someone when they are speaking. It’s simply bad manners. Well, answering a text or looking at Snap Chat when you are in a meeting or at a social gathering is the same thing. It’s rude! Just stop.
- Create a tech free zone. While there are some exceptions, most of us don’t need to take our tablets to the bathroom with us or bring our smart phones into yoga class. Define where you will use your phone and where it’s off limits. Families can do this as well. For example, making a no- phones-at-the-dinner-table policy and banning electronics at bedtime are good places to start.
- Join a challenge. Get a group of friends to do a digital detox with you by creating challenges that the whole group can participate in. For example, choose one hour (or more) each day where everyone needs to do something that does not involve a screen, and then share what you did with your friends. Pretty soon, you will be more interested in the world, and more interesting to your friends.
- Develop new habits. Many people notice that they feel a reduced sense of anxiety and stress when they unplug. This is because when you disconnect you are not in a constant state of information overload. You may also feel more energy. This is the perfect time to start something new. Practice a new yoga pose, read a book, start a new hobby. When you fill your time with something that brings you joy you are less likely to go back to your old ways.
9 Ways You Will Benefit from A Digital Detox
Once you have reduced your use of technology for a while, you will start to see some significant health benefits. Some of these benefits may include:
You’ll be more fit.
Many people find the time to exercise when they put down their smart phones. Sometimes this starts by simply putting down your phone and taking a walk outside.
You’ll deepen your friendships.
When you are looking into someone’s eyes while talking with them and experiencing their energy in person, it helps to create better and deeper relationships. Make dates with your friends, even if it’s just for a cup of tea or a short walk.
You’ll increase your productivity.
Without the constant information overload, we can all concentrate better. This improves our ability to think clearly and produce more.
You’ll have better posture.
When you’re not looking down at your phone all the time, you actually realign your neck and spine by pulling your head back. After a while, you will also find that you naturally pull your shoulders back and open your chest, which opens you up energetically to receiving.
You may become more likeable.
When you aren’t staring at your phone, you appear, and become, more approachable.
You’ll be smarter.
If you can’t ask Google or your friends network to answer all of your questions, you will become better at figuring out solutions to certain problems and situations on your own.
You’ll sleep better.
Studies have shown that using a device with artificial blue light, such as a laptop, tablet or your phone, before going to bed can decrease your body’s ability to produce melatonin causing you to lose sleep.
You’ll remember things.
Without your phone to remind you of small details, your brain will start to kick in and you will recall these details on your own. It has a lot to do with not being distracted, which helps train your brain to remember. You may find that you start to remember names and other details about people that you otherwise typically forget.
You’ll see the world.
When you’re not filming or photographing everything through your smart phone camera, you will actually see what is going on around you and experience life without a filter.
While these changes won’t happen overnight, if you make unplugging part of your healthy lifestyle, you will start to see many benefits.
Have you ever given yourself permission to unplug? What has worked for you?