There’s been a lot of intense and emotional content on the online digital space recently. While it’s important to keep up to date with events that are going on in our communities and around the world, overconsumption can also damage our well-being. With a lot going on in the world right now, sometimes the constant, seemingly negative stream of information can make us feel mentally and emotionally exhausted, leaving us needing some much needed time away from our phones and screens.
What is a digital detox?
A digital detox is exactly what it sounds like – taking a break or ‘detox’ from your digital devices such as laptops, televisions, tablets, and phones, including having a break from social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter or Facebook.
How many times have you seen friends or couples meeting up for food at a bar or restaurant, but instead of talking to each other, their heads are buried in their phones instead? It is often said that our digital devices hinder us from really living and being in the present. By taking a break from our digital lives, we can focus more on real-life social interactions without the distractions of notifications and buzzing phones.
Our world is focused more and more on instant and continuous communication than ever before, but just how valuable are they? And is there actually any real quality connection taking place? While digital technologies have improved and made our lives easier in many areas, the constant ringing of our phones, comments, messages, and unregulated screen time can end up being so exhausting that we need to unplug for the sake of our mental health. Even if you aren’t a social media addict, our lives are full of screens, and you probably still spend a lot of time in front of a screen for work purposes. When this happens, it’s important to check-in with yourself from time to time and be honest about your usage so that you can make the changes to get a healthier balance back into your life.
When it all gets a bit too much, try out a digital detox, even if it’s just for a weekend – you’ll feel a lot better for it, and your digital world will still be there waiting for you when you get back. In fact, it’ll probably be more interesting as you’ll have more to catch up on after your break.
Some tips to help you have a successful detox
Use flight mode
The flight mode option on your phone is the easiest way to unplug and disconnect from the digital world, while still being able to use other offline apps and listen to music. By keeping your phone in flight mode, there’s no chance for any annoying notifications to pop up and distract you, and it will leave you less tempted to have a quick scroll through your Instagram feed. Keep your phone on flight mode if you can when you are out at the shops, meeting with friends, or out for a walk or run. It will help you to focus on what it is that you are currently doing, and you will also experience more joy from your activities without the distraction.
Just make sure to alert your closest family and friends that you are doing this so that they don’t panic if they can’t get in touch with you.
Rather than sending a quick like here and there, use this time to reconnect with your friends and family in real life instead. While technology is great for connecting those who might live further away or in a completely different country, it might actually be hindering your relationships with those who are close to you. Now that you won’t be distracted, plan a lunch or coffee with your best friends, dinner with your parents, or a day activity with your significant other to truly connect and nurture your real-life relationships.
Turn your home into a digital-free zone
While you’re not expected to shove your big flat-screen TV into the closet, make the conscious effort to put away easy to move devices such as tablets, phones, and laptops. The saying ‘out of sight out of mind’ couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to digital detoxes. If you can’t see them, you won’t be as tempted to use them. Make use of other things to fill the void instead, such as listening or dancing to music and invest in the best bookshelf speakers for quality sound that doesn’t take up your entire space. Find substitution activities for your digital ones – paint in your spare time, go out for a walk, bake something or read and discover new books instead of watching Netflix on your TV or laptop screen before going to bed. Not only will you slowly start to wean yourself off digital devices, but you’ll also find that your sleep quality will drastically improve.
Learn to be more purposeful with your devices
Of course, you can’t not use your phone, computer, or any digital device forever. That’s not the point of a digital detox. However, you should aim to be more purposeful with your usage and try to use your technology only when you really need or want to, rather than for the sake of it.
Try and make endless and unproductive Twitter and Instagram scrolling a thing of the past, and only check it once or twice a day to catch up with what’s going on. Don’t have Netflix or the TV on in the background if you aren’t paying attention, instead only switch them on when you really want to watch something. Try and put your phone and tablet away more – too often, we find them in our hands for no real purpose. This takes a bit of practice at first, but once you’ve mastered this discipline, you’ll find that you will feel much better, have more time to do other, more productive things during your spare time, and will generally feel much calmer and less stressed.