Chances are your smartphone is within arm’s reach right now, if you’re not already using it to read this. We’re spending more time on our digital devices – and with the flood of emails, texts, calls, and notifications coming in – it’s rare if our screens stay dark for more than a few moments.
While technology certainly has made our lives easier in many ways, studies suggest that the addiction to our devices is real. Every new notification triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that drives us to seek rewards, so we keep coming back for more.
Unfortunately this vicious cycle not only steals precious time from our days, it takes a toll on our health, well being, and relationships. Studies have reported an association between technology and depression, anxiety, and decreased marital satisfaction, to name just a few.
So if you find yourself constantly reaching for your phone, having a mini-panic attack when you realize it’s not in your pocket where-it-always-is, feel compelled to catalog your life on social media … chances are that it’s high time for a little digital detox.
Benefits of a Digital Detox
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Better sleep
- Improved overall mood
- Healthier eating habits (allows for more conscious eating)
- Breaks the cycle of the comparison
- Can help you conquer your “fear of missing out”
- Allows you to live more fully in the moment
- Increased work productivity
- Allows more time for thought, and daydreaming (which leads to more creativity!)
- It’ll make you more polite and personable in social situations
- Allows more time for connecting in real life
Ready to try it?? Follow this 7 Step Digital Detox
“BUT HOW???” you may ask …
Like with any addiction, there are many different ways to go about quitting, or reducing your dependence on technology. What works for one, may not work for another. Some people might be able to go cold turkey for days at a time, while others will find this impossible. If you are part of the latter group, here is a 7 step plan to help you slowly wean yourself down. Instead of trying to eliminate media all together, this detox is about lessening consumption of and dependence on it day-by-day.
Digital Detox Prep
Step 1. Identify the platforms where you usually get your info and write them down, e.g. social media, email, blogs, news sites.
Step 2. Get rid of the noise. In each platform, start unsubscribing and unfollowing until you’re left with only your absolute favorites.
–> If you’re unsure of what newsletters you’re subscribed to, check out Unroll.me (a free bulk unsubscribe service). You’ll probably be shocked at how many you’re actually subscribed to … pare the list down to only the most interesting/valuable to you.
–> Turn off push notifications for social media and email.
Step 3. Create a System. You DO NOT have to read/watch everything you come across. Be selective about what takes up your time and energy. Ask yourself “will this help me?”. When something crosses your path that really interests you – star it, save it, screenshot it, bookmark it – whatever you need to do on that particular platform, and come back to it later. This will help ensure that you’re truly only taking in information that is valuable to you.
Okay here we go!
In case you haven’t done so already, unsubscribe, unfollow and unbookmark. (Read step 2 above.)
Avoid checking your phone or going on your computer first thing in the morning. Wait until 9 am before going on social media, reading news or blogs, or listening to podcasts.
Wait until after lunch to check any forms of media. Eat your lunch without doing anything else at the same time. (Eek! It’s super hard at first, but like with most things, it gets easier every time you do it.)
No media/email after dinner. Netflix is okay, but try reading a fictional book or going for a walk instead!
Limit yourself to reading/watching/listening to only 3 links all day. So you could read 2 blog posts and watch 1 YouTube video. Challenge yourself to be selective!
Go all day with only one tab open on your computer at a time. It’s tricky, but possible!
Go media-free all day. Work on that project you’ve been wanting to do for a while. Using your computer is totally fine, but avoid browsing other sites for ‘inspiration’.
You can do this friends! It’s not easy, but you will gain back so much of your precious time and energy, that it’s SO worth it.
Cheers to freedom!
Certified Health Coach