From the second we first check our smartphone in the morning, our lives are full of screens. A few months ago, we began to feel like our screens were leaving us feeling a bit drained. Between social media and a constant stream of emails, it can feel near impossible to power down.
Some Stats that Put Things in Perspective
As we dug further into our own digital habits, it was a good reality check to find the following stats:
- The average person checks their phone 200 times a day - that's once every six and a half minutes
- One in four people spend more time online than they do asleep
- 70% of 16-24-year-olds say they prefer texting to talking
- The average teenager sends 3,400 electronic messages a month from their bed
Finally, we decided it was time to take a “digital detox” but didn’t want to feel the anxiety of missing out. 📱Here are some tips on how to responsibly detox from your devices.
First off – What is a Digital Detox? 🧐
A digital detox is switching off all mobiles, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers for a certain length of time. This enables you to spend screen-free time doing whatever you enjoy. A digital detox is also a chance to recharge and rest and should ideally be around 24 hours long as a minimum.
Getting Ready to Power Off For the Day
“Just as you wouldn’t run a marathon before running a mile, you need to ease yourself into taking breaks from the digital world,” says Carson Tate, founder of Working Simply in Charlotte, NC, who helps clients establish a better work-life balance. Start by putting your phone down for 15 minutes without looking at it one day. The next day, break away from technology for 30 minutes, and so on. Or designate one day a week to stay away from one social media platform completely—say, "Twitter-free Tuesdays."
Schedule your Digital Detox
Choose a time that’s realistic for you to switch off for 24 hours or more. Weekends and holidays are great times to try a digital detox. Put ‘digital detox’ in your diary if it helps. At least one week in advance, tell anyone you need to that you’ll be away from your email and smartphone with an out-of-office away message. For managing social media, you can write on your profiles that you’ll be unreachable for a period of time, and even consider using #digitaldetox to let people know you’ll be away.
To ease your mind, consider leaving your phone with a trusted family member or friend who will know how to reach you if something truly urgent comes up. Then keep in mind: What’s really an emergency? Most likely whatever may happen during your unplugged period won’t be life-threatening or even all that important. ❤️
Replace Devices with the Things You Love
When you’re on a diet, it’s smart to keep some single serving sweets on hand to nibble on if a cheesecake craving kicks in. Do the same thing for a digital detox, Tate says. “Have activities available to distract you when the urge strikes to check your phone or laptop.” Consider buying magazines, a book, or a new nail polish 💅🏻, or head out for a walk and simply take in what’s going on around you. “When you are fully present in the moment, you’ll feel more thoughtful, your stress levels will dial down, and you’ll develop stronger relationships as you chat with friends and family,” advises Tate.
Put Devices Out of Reach.
When your device is right by your side you may be tempted to check it to make sure you aren’t missing anything. Keeping your phone, tablet, or laptop at a distance will make it easier for you to do a digital detox. Try keeping your devices in a drawer or closet – anywhere they’re out of site. If the temptation gets real, ask a family member or close friend to keep your device for you during your digital detox.
Enjoy Being Present
Now that "FOMO" has officially entered the Oxford Dictionary, we know we’re not the only ones feeling anxious about what we’re passing up. Whether you’re sitting at home and know a party’s going on, or you’re lying in bed and yoga class started five minutes ago, be okay with where you are. “Tell yourself, ‘Wherever I am is exactly where I need to be,’” 💕says Levi Felix, co-founder of Digital Detox and Camp Grounded, which run tech-free weekend getaways for adults.
“Later when you turn on your phone and are flooded with party pictures on Facebook and Instagram montages of fun-filled weekends, remind yourself that social media shows only the highlights of others’ lives,” Felix says. Be where you are, and enjoy the present.
A digital detox will no doubt give you a lot of time to think. So it’s a good idea to monitor how you felt during your detox: were you anxious mostly, did you feel more calm and peaceful? 🤷🏼♀️ Also, try and think through whether you noticed any differences in your interactions with others. It’s proven that taking breaks from digital devices improves social skills like empathy, communication and so on.
All in all, we can attest that while technology improves our lives in many ways, it’s also nice to have a break sometimes. And if 24 hours seems like a bit of a leap, consider starting with putting your phone away at meals or making the bedroom a device-free zone. Everything counts. :)