Need a digital detox? Here’s how to disconnect from everything.
Are you feeling like you need a digital detox, but can’t imagine how that would ever happen?
Our society is more plugged in than ever before:
- The average smartphone user checks their device about six times each hour. That means that Americans check their phones 8 billion times a day.
- Most people spend 3 hours a day on their phones, or 23 days a year.
- We look at our phones within 5 minutes of waking up. 81 percent of us are on them when we are dining out at restaurants. 42 percent of us check them in the bathroom, and 50 percent of us check our phones while we are in bed.
- The average person will spend 1 year and 7 months on Facebook during their lifetime. Yikes!
Most people are facing more pressure to check their email for work on nights and weekends than ever before. Couple that with relatives who send dozens of texts a day and friends who expect you to comment on their latest Facebook photos and it’s easy to see how staying connected can quickly overwhelm us.
How our connected culture impacts our health
In 1971, the first email was delivered. Today, on average we receive 121 emails a day. Our culture has become addicted to perpetual connection. And the constant pressure to stay in constant contact is hurting our health.
A growing body of research shows that the time we spend on our phones and on social media could be doing more harm than good:
It jeopardizes our safety
The National Safety Council estimates that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. Close to 330,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving alone. Even outside of our vehicles, our phones are distracting us and causing fatal accidents.
It hurts our relationships
Although at best, social media and our phones help us keep in touch with others, they can often cause more harm to our relationships than good. In addition to causing potential miscommunication, studies show that texting, especially to apologize, is detrimental to relationships. Additionally, research shows that text messages damage intimate communication.
It affects our mental health
We are quite literally more stressed, tired and depressed because of our phones and social media. We are in an ever-increasing state of hypervigilance – always on edge, waiting to see the next Instagram post, tweet or news update in our inboxes.
How to Take a Digital Detox
Put a stop to the incessant pressure to stay connected and take a digital detox from the mobile madness.
A digital detox can help you:
- Be more productive: In a culture that seems to value and breed overworking, studies show that taking a break actually makes you more productive.
- Be calmer: As the saying goes: “If you win the rat race, you’re still a rat!” Break the cycle of incessant emails, calls and texts by taking a step back from everything, if just for a moment.
- Be happier: Taking a break from technology can help you improve your relationships with your family and make time for other things you love to do.
Here is a realistic guide to taking a digital detox
First, set boundaries
The first step to taking a digital detox is to consider what is realistic for you. Decide what is best for you, and don’t be ashamed to start small. Consider:
- Turning off your phone from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. every day.
- Or, if you need to stay connected to work throughout the week, you could try turning off all of your devices at sundown on Friday night and rebooting on Saturday afternoon.
- For some people, setting aside a schedule for texting, emailing and social media works well. Make a commitment to stay away from your devices outside of those hours.
Next, give notice
Once you’ve identified a plan, you may want to give your friends, family and, if necessary, co-workers a heads up. Ironically, taking a digital detox can be stressful, as some people have a tendency to worry about what they are missing the whole time. You don’t want that!
- Provide your friends with an alternate number at which to reach you while you are offline in the event there is a true emergency.
- Let colleagues know that you will be offline on Saturdays, but responsive again on Sundays. Remember, you are the boss of your weekends!
- Put a recurring out of office notice on your email for the time you’ve set aside to disconnect. This will let people know you are not available, but will be back online soon.
Get set to disconnect!
Rome wasn’t built in a day. So too, your connection infrastructure, so to speak, might have become so intertwined with your day-to-day life that it could take a few steps to undo.
- Identify a space where you can store all of your devices during your digital detox. When you are ready to unplug, turn everything off and put it away.
- Set your out of office message and send your email regarding your detox to friends and family.
- If you have a landline, consider unplugging it.
- If you are just putting your devices in a separate location but not turning them off, make sure any alerts are silenced.
Take a mental vacation
Congratulations, you did it! Make the most of your digital detox:
- Spend time with kids, friends and family
- Participate in activities that do not require any technology, such as walking, hiking or doing yoga
- Play games and read books
- When the urge to check a device strikes, have a go-to distraction lined up such as a hobby or an activity, like cooking or drawing.
- Live in the moment (without taking time out of it to post it on Instagram).
Finally, create a smooth reentry
When your time is up and you are ready to reconnect, take steps to keep communication under control:
- Set aside time for just after your detox to respond to any emails, texts or messages that came in while you were away.
- Make your detox a regular habit. To get you through in between detox sessions, create tech-free mini-sessions, such as 3 minutes of meditation each night, or 10 minutes of self-care before you go to sleep.
- Be less responsive. People only know what you tell them. So, if you respond to everything right away, you are sending them a message that that level of responsiveness is possible for you.
Your mind and body will thank you for allowing it to reboot and get back to basics.
Need a break?
Make Healthy Human your essential reboot partner. Turn off your devices and curl up with a cup of coffee or tea in one of our 100% BPA-free, stainless steel bottles. Get yourself onto a hiking trail or into a bubble bath and call us in the morning! We promise you’ll feel better!
Do you have tips for taking a digital detox?
Have you taken a digital detox? What are some of your hacks? Let us in the comments below.