This time of year, many of your friends and colleagues are going on a detox diet to cleanse the body– by removing certain foods to eliminate toxins. But have you ever thought about cleansing the mind?
Going on a digital detox may be the perfect remedy to help give you the mental recharge you’ve been craving. In our latest article, our team at Vibrant Health digs into exactly what a digital detox is, why you may want to consider trying one, and simple tips for getting started on your own.
What is a Digital Detox, Anyway?
Just as the name sounds, a digital detox is when someone takes a break from technology devices (such as iPhones, laptops or even social media platforms) for a certain period of time in order to reconnect, unplug and remove distractions.
While some folks may want to go cold turkey and shut down completely for an extended period of time, others may choose to set aside a dedicated “down time” throughout the day. And just like a traditional detox diet is intended to cleanse the body by removing toxins, a digital detox can help cleanse the mind by removing distractions.
If you’re feeling pulled to step away from technology and be more present in your life, a digital detox may be just what you’re looking for.
A digital detox may be for you if:
- Technology is creating a great deal of stress in your life
- You want to be more present with your family and friends
- You’re craving more time to connect with yourself (unplugged)
- You’re becoming addicted to social media
- Technology brings upon negative emotions for you
- You’re having a difficult time focusing on your work or personal goals
- You constantly compare yourself to others on the web
- You mindlessly spend time checking your devices throughout the day
- Technology is negatively affecting your sleep, mood or mental health
- When you get an email, you feel the need to respond to someone right away
The Benefits of Going on a Digital Detox
Now that we’re clear on what exactly a digital detox is, let’s dig a little deeper into how it may help you. In this day and age where we’re constantly texting, checking our emails or posting selfies on instagram, you may be wondering how you’d ever be able to step away – and just as importantly why you’d even want to in the first place.
After all, we rely on technology for so many things – in work and our personal lives. Not to mention, it can be addicting. According to recent research by The Nielsen Company, American adults are spending over 11 hours per day interacting with media in some way. That’s nearly half the day!
That shocking stat alone may be reason enough for you to give it a go, but if you’re still not convinced, there are many additional benefits of going on a digital detox – especially if you’ve been experiencing any negative effects from your technology use.
Here are a few of the reasons why you may want to try going on a digital detox:
Be More Present & Mindful
If living more mindfully is one of your New Year’s resolutions, cutting back on your digital go-tos may help you get a little closer to that place of zen. In fact, one study found that simply limiting the frequency of checking email may reduce stress and improve overall wellbeing.
Try enjoying your afternoon lunch break outside 100% unplugged, going on a walk/run without your phone or iPod, or replacing your bedtime television routine with a good book and a cup of tea. As you make small changes to unplug a bit more, simply notice how it feels.
Experience Better Sleep
Speaking of changing up your bedtime routine, doing a digital detox may actually help improve your sleep. If checking emails and social media before bed is the norm, you may want to think twice about it. One study found that the use of mobile device-based electronic social media (ESM) in bed is linked with sleep and mood dysfunction in adults. All the more reason to leave the phone out of the bedroom!
Work on Your Mental Health
Focusing on your mental health is a hot topic these days – and for good reason. It’s also another motivation to try a digital detox. A recent study by Society for Research in Child Development revealed that daily digital technology use may be associated with mental health problems in adolescents – including symptoms of anxiety, depression, and ADHD.
If you’ve got teens at home, consider getting the whole family involved in a digital detox. There’s strength in numbers, and you’ll have a built in support system!
Focus on Your Personal Relationships
With American adults spending almost half the day engaging with media, cutting back – even just partially – is bound to open up space in your day. You may choose to use this time to focus on your real life relationships – by spending quality time with your family or grabbing an unplugged lunch with your besties (without taking selfies or pics of your food). You’ll be amazed at the conversations that can transpire when you don’t have your phones or tablets to lean on!
Avoid the Comparison Trap
If spending time on social media gives you a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out), it may be in your best interest to step away for a bit. When we’re busy comparing our lives to others on the web – many whom we don’t even know personally – we miss out on our own lives.
Not to mention, social media comparison can create unnecessary feelings of jealousy. As Steven Futrick so perfectly sums up, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” Next time you’re scrolling on social media, remember that those tiny squares on instagram are just that: a highlight reel.
Ready to Try Going on a Digital Detox? Here’s How to Get Started!
Ready to get started on your digital detox? The beauty of going on a digital detox is there’s no “right” or “wrong” way. Just like dieting, you have to find what works best for you. With that said, here are some ideas to get started and set yourself up for success.
Log Out of Your Personal Social Media Platforms
As you gear up to begin your digital detox, we first recommend logging out of personal social media platforms to avoid temptation. This will prevent mindless scrolling and help break your habit of checking Facebook every time you pick up your phone. Out of sight, out of mind!
Schedule Set Times of Day to Check Email
Do you constantly check your email and feel the need to respond A.S.A.P? You’re not alone. According to a survey conducted by Adobe, consumers spend about five hours per day checking their email (between work and personal use)!
Not only does this take up a big chunk of your day, but it may also increase feelings of stress and anxiety. Consider turning off your email notifications on your phone, or scheduling set times of the day to check in. (Think: morning, noon and before you log off for the day.) Try logging out of your email when not in use to avoid temptation.
Limit Technology Use At Home (Especially in the Evening)
If you often bring work home with you or mindlessly scroll social media at the dinner table, you may want to set some ground rules at home. Start small by creating some boundaries for yourself – like no phones at the dinner table or in the bedroom. Use this time to catch up with the family, read a book or squeeze in that evening yoga class you’ve been trying to get to.
Take Advantage of Apple Screen Time
Those of you with Apple phones are in luck, as the Screen Time feature may actually help you stick to your digital detox. Pull up the Screen Time feature in your settings where you can set up a number of parameters for yourself – including time limits for certain apps and “Downtime” (an extended period of time when app usage is restricted i.e. 7:00pm to 7:00am).
Cut Back on Texting
If texting is your weakness, consider simply cutting back on your text messages. Rather than sending a slew of texts filled with emojis, try picking up the phone, sending some good ol’ snail mail, or better yet – meeting up in person to connect.
Find Other (More Meaningful) Distractions
Speaking of meeting up in person, when you take a break from the digital world, you’ll have more time to focus on yourself and your wellbeing. If removing your digital crutch is leaving you feeling bored, it’s time to find some distractions. Sign up for a workout class, host a dinner party or pick up a new hobby – like photography – to fill your time in a feel-good, meaningful way 100% unplugged.
DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended as a substitute for advice provided by a competent health care professional. You should not use this information in diagnosing or treating a health problem. No claim or opinion in this blog is intended to be, nor should be construed to be, medical advice. If you are now taking any drugs, prescribed or not, or have a medical condition, please consult a competent physician who is aware of herb/drug interactions before taking any herbal supplements. The information presented herein has not been evaluated by the FDA or the Department of Health and is not intended to diagnose, prevent, cure, mitigate or treat any disease or illness.