A digital detox is a period of time when you refrain from using all electronic devices, such as your smartphone, laptop, and tablet. You are basically “unplugging” for a set period of time. This type of detox allows you an opportunity to reduce stress levels and focus more on your interaction with friends and family and what’s in front of you in the real world rather than the virtual world. A digital detox can be beneficial for your mental health and your relationships and may also help prevent addiction to tech devices.
Constant Connection Can Be Stressful
While you may not be able to imagine life without your tech devices, this constant connection to technology can contribute to stress, disrupt sleep, affect mental health, and interfere with work/life balance. According to the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America Survey, approximately a fifth of adults in the U.S. said technology was a significant source of stress in their lives. The constant digital connection and almost obsessive need to keep checking texts, social media, and emails was the main source of this stress.
Signs You Might Need a Digital Detox
Continual connectivity feeds the fear of missing out, can make it difficult to establish boundaries between your work and personal life, and can increase feelings of inadequacy, when you’re constantly comparing yourself or your life to others that you see on social media. All of these feelings are unhealthy and can contribute to anxiety and depression.
These are some signs that it might be time to do a digital detox:
- You feel increasingly anxious and upset if you cannot find your phone.
- You feel the need to check your phone every few minutes and often ignore others around you to do so.
- Spending time on social media leaves you feeling depressed, angry, or anxious.
- You are obsessed with the number of likes or comments on your social media posts.
- You fear you’ll miss out on something if you don’t keep checking your phone or other device.
- You stay up too late playing on your phone or get up early to check your phone.
- You have trouble concentrating on a task without having to check your phone.
Tips for Doing a Digital Detox
There are several ways to do a digital detox. Some people go cold turkey and take a social media break for 30 days while some people may go offline while on vacation. Other ideas can be to establish limits for your daily device use. The goal is not to give up technology completely, as that is unreasonable in a world that relies on connectivity, but rather to learn to find balance in your daily life as well as to take a break on days like weekends and holidays when the necessity to be online isn’t as high.
Here are a few ways you can incorporate a digital detox into your life and set healthy limits for your screen time.
Do a 30-day detox. This can be great for taking a social media break. You can deactivate your accounts on most social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, and reactivate them after your 30-day detox. If you’re able to go offline on other devices during this 30-day period, that’s even better. But just taking a break from social media can do wonders for your mental health, and when you return to it, you will be more likely to use it in a healthier way.
Keep your phone in another room. If constantly checking your phone throughout the day is causing disruptions to your work or home life, put your phone out of sight, out of mind. Charge your phone in the kitchen or living room at night so you aren’t tempted to check it before bed or during the night.
Go offline for 24-hours. Designate a day to go phone-free—for example, choose Sunday as a day for your family to take a break from all devices and spend time together doing something you enjoy. You can let friends and family know ahead of time that you’ll be offline so they don’t worry, and let them know how to get in touch with you if there really is an emergency.
Use the 1:1:1 rule. Unplug for one hour before bed, one day per week, and one week per year or another variation of this schedule.
Establish no-phone rules in your house. Especially if you have children, it’s important to establish boundaries around phone use at home. Create rules that work for your family, such as no phones allowed at the dinner table, or no phones in bedrooms overnight.
Remove apps from your phone. If you mindlessly scroll social media and realize you’ve wasted hours of your time, or if you are addicted to online games that steal your time, delete these apps from your phone temporarily. Remove the apps from your phone for a week each month, and you’ll find you spend your time in more productive ways.
No matter which method you choose to do a digital detox, taking a break from your devices will allow you to recharge and reset and will make you more mindful of how you spend your time. Your family and friends will thank you, and your mental health will improve.