Digital Detox – 4 Ways to Reduce Screen Time & Improve Overall Wellbeing
Daily screen time has reached an all-time high. We spend up to 13 hours every day staring at our phones, laptops, smartwatches, tablets, and TVs. Having our devices constantly within reach has made us hyperconnected – and hyperdistracted. We feel attached to the people and lives on our phones but disconnected from our real-life storylines. As a means to counterbalance this trend, digital detox retreats, phones without internet access, and apps and devices to manage your screen time are popping up everywhere.
These days, digital detox is the new trend. Find out what a digital detox is, why more off-time improves your life, and how to easily integrate digital detox breaks into your everyday life.
Digital detox explained
The rise of technology has significantly improved many areas of our lives. The digital detox movement isn’t necessarily about undoing all that progress by banning technology from our lives entirely. Instead, it advocates for better and more responsible use of technology and our time in our personal and professional lives.
A digital detox is the abstinence from all types of technology like smartphones, computers, and televisions. This can last from a few designated minutes up to months and can even turn into a completely tech-free life. It all depends on your intentions and circumstances.
The overall goal is to bring you back into the present moment. Away from the constant need to check your emails and messages, away from pretty (and heavily) curated photos and less pretty newsfeeds, back to what’s right in front of you: your environment, your community, or even just a simple book.
The effects of technology and why regular digital detox breaks are important
Every ping of the phone, every notification, every message helps you feel socially connected. You experience a small burst of happiness and gratification due to the secretion of dopamine every single time. And in pursuit of the next dopamine rush, you are tempted to check your phone more and more frequently.
On the other hand, you become hyper-vigilant about your phone because of constant notifications and a phenomenon called FOMO or the fear of missing out. This non-stop vigilance triggers your fight-or-flight instincts and releases the stress hormone cortisol. You are unable to relax, specifically in relation to social media, you can’t truly slow down and rest, and your body, mind, and spirit aren’t allowed to fully disconnect and recharge.
Excessive screen time can lead to dry and irritated eyes, tension in the neck, back, and shoulders, a sedentary lifestyle, a disturbed sleep rhythm, up to 40% drop in concentration and productivity, higher levels of stress and anxiety, a sense of inferiority and decreased self-worth, overall dissatisfaction and even depression.
So even though getting rid of technology entirely probably isn’t an option, reducing your screen time by taking intentional digital detox breaks to focus on other things can help you greatly improve your physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.
How to digital detox in small ways
The idyllic way to digital detox involves a glamorous retreat to a no-signal oasis in the middle of nowhere, but that’s simply not realistic most of the time. Instead, look for ways to carve out tech-free times every day.
Here are 4 ideas that can help you digitally detox as little or as much as you’d like:
Define digital detox zones
These can be certain rooms (e.g. the bedroom), times (e.g. between 9 pm and 7 am) or days (e.g. Sunday), or occasions (e.g. dinner or movie night). Commit to keeping these zones analog or at least smartphone-free and enforce those rules not just with yourself but with your family and guests.
Clean up your social media
Unfollow or mute any accounts that make you feel “less than” or like you have to keep up. Even though this doesn’t technically reduce your screen time, it helps make you feel more positive in those times you do use social media.
Take advantage of your device’s apps and features
Your devices can help you control your overall technology use. Check your overall screen time and where exactly you spend this time. Or turn off notifications completely or selectively for certain apps. Not having the constant pings begging for your attention helps reduce mental stress and makes you feel more in control of your day.
Give yourself a curfew
If you find yourself spending an hour or two scrolling through your phone before bed, set a phone or device cutoff time. After the designated time, enable “Do not disturb” and put the device into a drawer or another room until you’re ready to leave the next day. This has the additional benefit of starting your day tech-free and allowing time to intentionally check in with yourself first thing in the morning.
Written by Julia
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