Why We All Need A Digital Detox

On World Mental Health Day, we look at one of the ways in which we can positively affect our mental health in our day to day lives: by putting down our phones, laptops and tablets. 

In an era where people document every detail of their day online, where it takes a matter of seconds to contact someone and where more and more people are becoming addicted to their phones, we should all be taking a regular digital detox. A shocking statistic shows that UK adults spend an average of 8 hours 41 minutes a day on screens, which is more time than they are asleep! We want to explore what a digital detox is and how we do one. 

What is a digital detox?

A digital detox means unplugging from all tech devices, be it phones, computers, tablets and even televisions, for a given period of time. It is a way to connect more to in-person experiences without the distraction of an Instagram notification or a Whatsapp stealing your focus. The beauty of a digital detox is that it is completely personal to the individual and can be tailored around your lifestyle. 

Why do we need a detox?

From causing sleep issues to mental health and social pressures, there are so many reasons why a digital detox is beneficial. Technology has become incredibly fast and widely accessible, which has many positive aspects in that we can FaceTime family on the other side of the world and we can get the answer to any question in seconds. However, this has also meant that more than 1 in 3 young adults believe that they have a smartphone addiction.

Here are some of the benefits of having some time offline and away from screens:


Increase focus 

It is difficult to concentrate on any given task if your phone is constantly pinging with notifications from all of the various platforms and applications on your devices. The average American checks their phone 344 times a day, which equates to every 4 minutes - imagine how much more efficient we could be with our time if we didn’t stop what we were doing to check our phone. 

Reduce stress

The ever-present digital connections and the constant need to check them and feel on top of replies and communications can, understandably, be very stressful. Having dedicated times to switch off from it all can make it seem more manageable. 

Be more present

How often are you having a conversation with someone but also replying to a text or scrolling ‘the Gram’ whilst watching tv? By eliminating devices at meal times or when you are with friends or family, you are allowing yourself to connect with them properly and be completely present in their (or your own) company.  

Better sleep

It is a well known fact that you should avoid looking at screens for an hour prior to bedtime. That said, not many of us adhere to that advice and checking our phone is often the last thing we do at night and the first thing we do in the morning. Checking social media whilst in bed increases the likelihood of anxiety, insomnia and shorter sleep duration.

 Improve mental health

Social media in particular has been linked to having adverse effects on mental health due to the overwhelming problem of comparison on visual platforms. But the issue goes quite a lot deeper, with studies showing that heavy internet has strong links to depression as well as increased symptoms of ADHD and conduct disorder

How do we have a digital detox? 

It’s important to understand that a digital detox doesn’t have to mean all or nothing, it is simply about encompassing small, incremental changes into your daily routine to give yourself some respite from the all consuming technological world. If there is an area in particular that you know takes up a lot of your time, focus on ways to reduce that and work from there. Here are five suggestions on how to reduce the time you spend attached to your devices.  

1. Set achievable targets

If you cannot go 5 minutes without checking your phone then it might be best to start with short chunks of time and dedicate a tech-free half hour at the end of each day and gradually build up. 

2. Create a detox that works for your lifestyle 

If you need your phone or laptop to work every day then it may not be practical to do a complete 24 hour detox. Instead you could try having lunch away from your desk, going for a walk and leaving your phone in the office. 

3. Set boundaries 

Create ‘rules’ for yourself, such as no screens at meal times or making sure you turn your phone off at least an hour before bed and not checking it until an hour after you wake up. If you can’t resist the temptation of checking your phone when you hear a ping, put your phone in another room or on silent. 

4. Remove distractions

Turn off your notifications or put your phone on airplane mode during times of focus. You can also remove notifications on computers and tablets as they can be equally as distracting. 

5. Communicate

If you feel panicked at the thought of not being able to reply to every message immediately, communicate that you will be doing a digital detox with your friends and family and that you will be offline for a period of time. You could replace messaging with a phone call or meeting in person, you may just find that you feel much more connected to that social interaction. 

For more inspo on taking some time away from your screens, check out Venetia La Manna’s #offline48 where she takes 48 hours to have a digital cleanse.

 

Written by Rebecca Jackson, Stories Behind Things 


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