SOUL FOOD

Full Digital Detox: Your Questions Answered on Unplugging

What is a digital detox?

The digital detox, is a concept where people take a break from using a digital device in order to reconnect with the physical world and recover from a technology addiction. It can depend how much time you spend online, and how this effects your ability to function in your daily life as to whether this is something you’d like to try. It also depends on what you’re spending your time on, whether you need a full digital detox, or maybe a social media detox.

It is sometimes referred to as a ‘digital cleanse’ or ‘tech detox’. The idea of unplugging from technology can be intimidating for many, so it’s important to understand why the digital detox works and what you can gain from the experience.

woman, coffee, phone

Do digital detoxes work?

Digital detox’s are excellent for your mental and physical health and will work, if done right – just like any detox, diet or change in lifestyle. I’m guess you’re reading this because you’re finding yourself sucked into the blackhole that is social media sites (no matter how much we love them!) and you’re looking for a healthy way to break up with your phone or device, and take back control of your habits.
The main take away from this article, is to recognise the level to which you need to break up with your device, and remain realistic at the same time.

Ask yourself:

Why am I doing this?

What do I want from this experience?

Do you have the capacity for change right now?

Are you mentally and emotionally in place to set new boundaries and work to keep them up until they feel normal?

Will setting boundaries provide relief or stress?

Are you the issue or the people on the end of the phone, expecting you to be available at all times?

Do you need to spend some time planning for this detox prior to commencing it, to set up a plan? i.e have an automatic reply on emails, let your boss know about your availability, let friends or family that you won’t be as accessible for awhile to do some self-care.

social media, interaction, woman

Signs you need to put down the devices

Here are some signs of addictive behaviour:

 

  • You feel exhausted after using digital devices for a while.

  • You have digital eye strain or they feel dry after time on the device.

  • You’re easily distracted and can’t focus on one task at hand.

  • Your sleep schedule is off due to insomnia or prolonged use of electronic devices.

  • You experience headaches, neck pain, and/or back pain.

  • You’ve become apathetic and distant towards family and friends compared to before, preferring to be on your mobile devices.

  • You feel like your emotions are out of control due to a lack of real socialising.

  • Your productivity has dropped significantly from excessive use of your mobile device.

phone, display, apps

What is an example of a digital detox plan?

A digital detox plan can consist of the following:

 

  • Set a designated time for daily screen time.

  • Ensure that your devices are out of sight and turned off during meals, bedtime, or other activities.

  • Turn off notifications from social media apps.

  • Leave devices at home if possible when going out with friends or family.

  • Unplug for weekends or a day during the week to connect with friends and family.

  • Participate in activities such as reading a book, going on hikes, trying new recipes, listening to music, etc.

  • Prioritise self-care like sleeping 8 hours per night and exercising regularly.

tea time, reading, poetry

How do you detox from the Internet?

10 digital detox tips to spend less time online

 

Implement boundaries – Set specific off-times for devices – this is the biggest point to make, because if you set yourself realistic boundaries, and you stick to them, this is what will make the biggest, long term, difference.
Here are some ideas for implementing boundaries:

    • Get a little digital alarm clock, which tells you the time and alarms – but thats all. No need for your phone.

    • Perform self-care and morning routine before checking your phone.

    • Know what you are going to do one your phone when you do check it and then put it down again. i.e check and reply to messages/emails, listen to music or search the internet for something specific.

    • Turn off your phone at a specific time of day so you can’t be contacted.

    • Allow yourself to check social media at certain times of day, with a time limit.

Tell your friends and family you’re doing a digital detox and your tech habits will be different if they’re used to you being in constant connection.

Create goals – why are you wanting to do this and what can you achieve with your time?

Do not begin and end your day checking your phone

Engage in physical activities often – what do you love to do thats fun and physical? Unsure? This is your opportunity to try something new and find out!

Read real books – go to the library or visit someone and borrow a book.

Adjust your phone settings to limit certain apps and social media sites.

When you do allow yourself some technology use, consume digital information mindfully, not passively

Make a schedule for technology use and live in the moment

Consider long-term changes

inspiration, motivation, life

What are the benefits of digital detox?

Everyday life consists of you: constantly checking facebook, you push notifications, then you start scrolling mindlessly, with an unbelievable amount of time spent doing this, until you finally unlatch yourself from the screen.

Digital detoxes allow you to slow down completely, relax and be aware of whats going on around you. They give you the opportunity to make different choices about how to use your time. It’s impossible to restart our brain while distracted by emails and dinging social media notifications.

A 2022 study researching the effects of reducing screen time on wellbeing, mood and biomarkers of stress in adults, found “significant improvements in overall self-reported mental well-being and mood in favour of recreational screen reduction”.

Some benefits of a digital detox are:

 

    • Improve productivity

    • More time

    • Feel recharged

    • Improved sleeping conditions (digital devices can disrupt sleep due to stimulation of what your doing or watching and the blue light which tricks your brain into thinking it daylight)

    • Improved in fitness

    • Improved overall wellness

    • Improved relationships

    • Reduce Stress

    • Sharper focus

    • Spend more time in nature

young woman, beach, dress

Overcoming FOMO: strategies for coping with a digital detox

 

    • Try setting limits for a short period of time and write down the benefits, then slowly increase the detox period.

    • Unplug from devices just for specific periods of time each day.

    • Replace digital activities with non-digital ones you look forward to like reading or playing board games.

    • Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable within the timeframe you have set for yourself.

    • Try a tech free weekend and observe the changes in your mental health.

    • Engage with people more often – talking, hanging out rather than messaging each other.

    • Don’t forget to go outside! Take time to appreciate nature, walk around, talk to people you meet on your way.

    • Replace regular TV/movies watching with something else – for example take a class in something you’ve never tried before or try a new hobby.

people, women, talking

But, I work at my computer all day long, I can’t avoid it!

Take regular work breaks away from the screen, instead of checking your phone.

You might already be using your downtime to do something that doesn’t involve technology, like reading a book or cooking. But, it can still be hard to take regular breaks from work when you this is your source of income! Take regular, short breaks – even just for 3-5 minutes. Stretch your legs, do a short walk, make a cup of tea or go outside. This can really help your productivity too.

laptop, iphone, workspace

Heavy Device Use May Be Linked to Mental Health Concerns

Research has shown that overuse of technology can be linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. A 2021 study found, “There is consistent evidence for comorbidity between excessive smartphone use and other psychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety, OCD, and ADHD similar to Internet addiction. In addition, excessive smartphone use is related to loneliness, stress, and other negative emotions.”

Therefore, it is important to monitor our device usage and take steps to reduce heavy use if we notice any signs of difficulty in our day-to-day lives.

The best way to do this is by creating boundaries around the time you spend using technology. Set specific times when you will be off of devices for the day, and make sure to stick to them. This can help keep your usage at a healthy level and reduce its impact on your mental health.

facebook, social media addiction, internet addiction

Enjoy Life, Unplugged!

When it comes to living life unplugged, remember that it doesn’t mean completely cutting yourself off from technology. Instead, it’s about being conscious and mindful of how much you use your devices and making sure to make time for other activities. Check out the Five Ways to Wellbeing to get you started on making some positive improvements.

By taking the time to unplug, you can help yourself recharge mentally, emotionally, and physically. Taking a break from technology can help improve focus and concentration, reduce stress, prevent burnout, and promote creative thinking. There are many activities you can do to unplug such as reading a book, stretching at home or going for a walk in the park. Digital detoxes give us an opportunity to step back from our everyday lives, spend quality time with our loved ones and gain some insight into the effects of addictive devices and sites.

At the end of the day, make it work for you. You’re the only one who knows how knee-deep you are in the digital quicksand. If its only a tiny issue, a 24 hour detox or just setting boundaries maybe a great choice to free you up or become more mindful. Or, if this is an issue effecting your life, work or wellbeing, be sure to give unplugging a true go and find other things which full your cup and give you joy.

It’s time to plug out and take a breather from time, so go ahead, just switch off your device, enjoy life unplugged! It will be worth it.

grimace, funny, expression

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