With lockdown restrictions in place, it is no surprise that people are dependent on social media to stay connected with friends and family. Even while working from home, being around gadgets to get things done has become a necessity. Many psychologists believe that reaching for our phones has now become a mechanism to cope with the unknown; we try to subconsciously reduce our anxiety by trying to get updates from the world by staying connected to our screens. Regardless of whether we are glued to technology for entertainment, disconnection, work, distraction or boredom, it is safe to say that it has become hard to draw tech boundaries and we are spending more time on technology than we would like, making our screen time soar to new heights. How long can you go without reaching for your phone? For some this could be a few hours, while for others even keeping their phone aside for a few minutes can be distressing. Mobile phones have become the gadgets we first check when we wake up and the last thing we look at before we fall asleep. And when we are not just using our phones, there is always some other technology in play such as our laptops, televisions or gaming consoles.
One of the most popular ways to develop a sustainable relationship with technology before you let it take control on you is by taking a Digital Detox. A digital detox is when you voluntarily and intentionally decide to steer clear of technology to forgo the stress and anxiety that comes with constant communication. This includes stepping away from all gadgets like your smartphone, laptop, television, gaming consoles and from using any kind of social media, forcing you to focus more on real life interactions rather than social media notifications. A few indicators that you need a digital detox would be if you feel anxious that you will miss out on something if you don’t constantly check your phone for updates, you find it hard to stay away from technology and focus on work, you feel impelled to check your phone every few minutes and if being on social media leaves you feeling drained or angry. So how does a digital detox affect our brain and body? A study found that it can be a life changing experience. Time off from technology can improve sleep hygiene, memory and even lead to postural changes because you will be looking forward instead of down at your phones, which also makes you seem more approachable. One of the most powerful findings of the study was that a digital detox can help you make significant changes to your life, because of the lack of constant distraction. You will be more willing to commit to a transformative lifestyle or stick to a regime such as working on your health and fitness or even make notable changes in your career or relationships. Additionally, a digital detox also helps you prosper mentally by reducing anxiety and giving you the mind space to re-evaluate your goals and purpose. Subsequently, productivity also increases as you are able to devote your entire attention to getting your work done. Doing a digital detox may seem impossible for many since tech- addiction is a real thing. It is often out of question for a lot of people to keep their electronics aside. However, it is important to disconnect, especially during the pandemic which has almost forced us to be with our phones more than warranted, with some people’s screen time shooting up to a shocking twelve hours. Here are a few ways to help you take a digital detox right now:
Ask yourself “why?”
Every time you go to reach out for your phone, ask yourself why you are doing it. Chances are that it is only because a notification popped up on your screen or you want to open social media to scroll mindlessly. Staying conscious and aware of how checking your phone has become an impulsive activity will help you to be mindful before you reach out for it again.
Plan out a digital detox time daily
It is important to schedule gadget free time during the course of your day, especially immediately after you wake up and before going to bed. This will not only help to break the addiction cycle but also give you more undivided time to work on a hobby or passion, or project that you had been previously unable to make time for. You can also make it a point to keep your phone away during meals, because the more time you spend on your phone, the less time you give to facilitate conversation and build relationships with those around you.
Set app limits
Another useful thing can be to set app limits either through built in apps on your phone or by downloading time limiting applications for social media. Once you set in the desired and healthy amount of time you would like to spend on social media in a day, activating these apps will make you automatically shut social media off once the time limit has been reached. Downloading productivity apps will also help to keep your smartphone usage at bay.
Turn off push notifications
While this may seem like the easiest thing to do, it is actually the hardest to be mindful about, because many times we end up reaching for our phones without even receiving a notification. This is because constantly refreshing our social media feed triggers the body with a dopamine rush, activating the reward pathways in our brain. By switching off as many notifications as we can, we are giving ourselves the ability to be focused on tasks without being distracted.
Move your body
Constantly using your smartphone and laptop has been associated with poor posture, eyesight problems and even headaches and muscle tension. Following the 20-20-20 rule can be helpful in which you focus your gaze on an object that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds for every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen. Easy neck and finger rotation exercises can also be beneficial to reduce soreness from constant typing and scrolling. While a digital detox may seem like disconnecting from the world, it is the most valuable and practical way to connect to yourself while simultaneously building a healthy relationship with the technology that you use. Even though it may seem impossibly hard to do at first, it is important to take that first step to be more present in your other activities and can ultimately prove to be a very rewarding experience.