Digital detoxes are fast becoming the ‘go-to’ challenge to take back control of your life and step away from the digital world.
A lot of us feel like we can’t take in any more information as we’re bombarded with digital ads, information and exposure to negative news. In fact, we’re so exposed that we feel like our brains are going to shut down like a computer.
Sound familiar? It happened to me recently. My mind went completely blank and intense headaches took over my life.
This was when I knew that I had to take a digital detox, and if you’ve been going through the same things as me, then maybe you should too.
What is a digital detox?
A digital detox is when you spend a period of time away from your digital devices. The amount of time is up to you but can vary from a few hours to a few months.
According to PsychologyToday, more than 2 hours of screen time per day has a negative effect on our health and wellbeing. Too much screen time increases our anxiety and the likelihood of health problems, including high blood pressure and poor eye health.
What are the benefits of a digital detox?
A digital detox isn’t just good for our physical and mental health. Even a short period away from screens can have the following improvements:
- Mental health improvements: If your digital detox includes social media, then you’ll be breaking the comparison cycle, improve your mood and start to reconnect with your own thoughts.
- Relationship improvements: Taking a digital detox will improve your eye contact and listening skills, and help you spend more time in the present moment.
- Sleep improvements: Researchers have found that screens restrain the production of melatonin, which helps us to sleep.
The benefits of a digital detox are clear, but if you’re just starting out, how can you make the most of it and make a running start?
9 steps to help you boss your first digital detox
The first step to anything is acknowledgement. If you don’t acknowledge your phone usage, then you wouldn’t be able to start your new journey.
These are three questions to ask yourself:
- How much time do I spend on my devices?
- Am I getting distracted by my devices?
- Are my relationships harmed by my device usage?
The answers to these questions will give you a good insight into your digital device behaviour and how it’s influencing your life. Now that you’ve acknowledged the situation you’re in, you can move onto the next step.
2. Set a goal
Setting a goal will motivate you to continue and complete your first digital detox. This doesn’t have to be a big goal, but it must be something that you can quickly achieve to motivate you to keep going.
Example: Stop using your phone for 2 hours a few days a week.
While small, this goal will help you to see quicker benefits of the detox and won’t be too much of a strain on your daily life. However, if you work better by jumping in at the deep end, then set a larger goal and go for it!
3. Turn off your notifications
Go through the notification settings on all your devices, even if your phone doesn’t make a noise when you have a message or alert, the symbol or red dot on your phone will still be distracting. After all, each app you use is designed to keep you opening and using it – don’t let them.
By turning off the notifications on your phone, you’ll be distracted less when completing your daily tasks and routine. But please, keep your phone call notifications on and messages from any close friends or family, just in case.
4. Set times for phone use
If you don’t want to go full digital detox and still want to check emails and social media, then setting specific times for phone use should be factored into your detox.
This can range from scheduling in 30 minutes in the morning, to while you’re on your lunch break or even while you’re relaxing in the evening. Whatever you choose is up to you but it must be done at a time when you won’t be distracted or influenced by whatever is happening on your phone.
5. Reduce your TV usage
TVs are one of the biggest distractions for productivity. They’re addictive and now more than ever designed to keep you watching (think Netflix).
Schedule in your TV time (because there’s nothing wrong with relaxing), but make sure to restrict and schedule it so it doesn’t take over.
6. Remove toxic followers from social media
If your digital detox includes social media, then take the time to go through the people you follow. If they give you a negative reaction/feeling, then remove them from your list of followers.
Social media breeds comparison, so by doing this, you’re taking care of your mental, emotional and physical health.
7. Delete unwanted apps
Our phones are littered with apps, a lot of which we don’t use or influence our mood and energy throughout the day.
Take the time on your first digital detox to delete and remove any apps which don’t bring you positivity, or help you in any way. This will ensure that you’ll be able to focus on the apps which will be beneficial to your wellbeing and productivity instead.
8. Limit your time looking at media/the news
Every day we’re faced with negative media, which affects how we feel and view life.
By limiting your intake of negative media, it will help to improve your negative mindset because you’ll not be dwelling on the negative press on a day-to-day basis.
Only limit yourself a short amount of time during the day or week to keep up-to-date with the current news. How you do this is up to you.
9. Enjoy your hobbies
Although a digital detox may be hard at first, it will become easier when you start doing hobbies which don’t require the digital world.
The goal is to replace your digital device usage with other more positive activities. Finding these is up to you but can be anything from yoga to walking, spending more time with friends and cooking delicious meals.
Make sure your detox is a pleasure, not a burden by planning your time for enjoyment.
Your first digital detox may be hard, but it will be made easier by following the above points. The benefits should start to reveal themselves as time goes on, but we want to know from you – have you ever done a digital detox? What tips do you have for beginners? Leave them in a comment below.