When you think of the word ‘detox,’ you might think pretty strictly about food. From a definitive standpoint, the word ‘detox’ just means “a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances.”
So, what do we consider unhealthy? Certain foods, alcohol, nicotine, and even the Internet.
Let’s not kid ourselves; the amount of time we spend in front of a screen is astounding! For many of us, this is rather innocent. A lot of us also have jobs that require us to spend a lot of time in front of the computer or our phones.
While abstaining from the digital world entirely is highly unrealistic for many, it’s good to schedule in tech-light periods of time, or to plan whole days off entirely ahead of time.
Let’s talk about why
If you need some convincing as to why you – yes, you! – should plan a digital detox, we’ve got plenty of reasons. Here are a few:
- Breaking the addiction. You might not be addicted to technology, but it’s good to ask yourself a few questions to gauge your dependence. Do you feel ‘lost’ without your phone? Do you find yourself stressed or uncomfortable if you can’t check your email for too long? Have you ever given yourself enough space to recognise whether or not technology is invasive to your life? It’s good to be aware of these addictive habits so that we can better manage them.
- Breaking the reward cycle. Even further into the addiction is the reward cycle; it’s what keeps us coming back! While it’s fantastic to have approval and validation in our day-to-day lives, and those things create incentive via positive reinforcement, we don’t need them for everything, like that photo you just posted of your Starbucks cup!
- To restore focus. Technology is a means of instant gratification (read above!), so it’s easy enough to brake for in the midst of something important like work, a book, or a real-life chat with a friend. If your focus is dipping, putting away the bright lights can help you get your brain a-buzzin’ again.
- Learning to be ‘unavailable.’ Remember the good ol’ days where leaving a message on a landline was all you could do if you couldn’t get through to someone? If we really want to draw a comparison, let’s take it back to telegrams. The cell phone? Well, we can reach anyone at any time! This is convenient, sure, but it also means we’ve learned to be constantly available, and constantly saying, “Yes” as a result. It’s okay to call someone back later.
- Because you can. It might seem a little impossible, but for those of you who love a good challenge, the digital detox is a great way to prove your strength to yourself!
- To find a balance. We can’t live in a constant state of digital detox (if only – right?). So, the purpose of doing one is to restore balance. You’ll gain the perspective to find ways to healthily indulge in technology while still living your life. That’s the point, after all. If you’re feeling a little drained by your iPhone, a digital detox could be just the thing you need to stabilise again.
- Get better sleep. One of the best things you can do to ensure quality of rest is to take a break from tech right before bed. It’s important to avoid blue light from the screens 2-3 hours before bed so our brains can get into slumber-mode. If you need more help with tackling sleep issues, consider joining our free 7-Day Sleep Better Challenge which will enforce the tech-light before bed rule.
Let’s talk about how
Now that we’ve discussed the reasons why, we’re going to show you how to make your digital detox happy, painless and successful! If any of the reasons above resonated with you, you could probably benefit from going tech-free or tech-light for a designated period of time.
Fortunately, doing a digital detox is a customizable plan, if you will, and can fit into anyone’s life.
Don’t make excuses
This is rule number one! If you think you’re addicted to technology, could enrich your life by not using it as much, rely too much on technology for human interaction or validation, or feel as though technology takes away from the quality of your everyday life, you could definitely use a break.
This decision is ultimately up to you, but if you can come to the conclusion that a digital detox will benefit you, you can’t make excuses! They will bubble up, but to make progress, you have to be firm.
This goes true for just about any change of habit you’re taking on including diet, sleep, exercise and more; make sure you’re just as serious about tech time as you are about the healthy food that goes on your plate.
Set limits instead of rules
Whether your lifestyle simply doesn’t allow you to take full days off technology at a time, or the notion of having restrictive rules makes you more likely to break ’em (hello, all-or-nothing folks!), limits are your friend. You can work these limits into your life in quite a few ways.
For example, you can set designated tech-free hours of the day, or you can set boundaries such as, ‘no technology during meal time.’
Either way, you’ll be cutting back where it’s best for you to do so. Try to set those limits at times when you’re using technology too much. Perhaps, you can monitor tech use, see where it’s most pervasive, and set your limits based on your own needs.
Go tech-light for the weekend
If you’re working the Monday to Friday, 9-5 kinda thing, the weekend is the perfect time to dedicate yourself to going tech-light. In fact, it’s one of our weekly habits throughout the entire duration of the 9-week Happy Body Formula program, and each Saturday is an email-free day, dedicated to firing up the gadgets a bit less.
We understand that the weekend lends itself better to these opportunities. In order to make it work, it’s good to plan ahead of time – how can you make sure that Saturday and/or Sunday don’t call you to your phone or computer?
Clear up any urgent emails and phone calls, make plans ahead of time, print things like recipes so you don’t have to bring your tablet into the kitchen. This planning will make it simpler to set technology aside, rely on it a little less, and just live.
Don’t take your phone to bed
This is one of the major key points we make when talking about how to live a better life. This little habit goes a long way, and it’s a good way to implement some tech-light time when you need it the least. Seriously – think of a logical reason you’re taking your phone to bed!
If the alarm is what’s keeping you tucking away that glowing screen beneath the pillow, get an old-fashioned clock instead.
Moreover, not taking your phone to bed will help you kick the habit of immediately checking your notifications as soon as you wake up in the morning. This is a surefire way to overload your brain and take away from those sweet, slow, relaxing moments before the events of the day have a chance to unfold.
Opt for reading, meditation or conversation over coffee (or tea, if it’s before bed) instead of scrolling through Facebook to wind down or perk up.
Plan fun and distracting things for your detox
Kicking any addiction isn’t easy, and this includes technology. It’s going to be much more difficult to resist checking your phone, your email, or tuning out to the television if you’re just sitting around at home.
In order to avoid temptation, you should also plan fun, distracting, engaging things around the tech-light time you pencil in. All-day activities like hikes or camping trips will not only distract you from the fact that you’re not using your phone, but you might even *gasp* lose service!
If the outdoors aren’t your thing, there are plenty of options that will force you away from using your phone and documenting everything as you go along – plays or movies at the theatre, fancy dinners or drinks, dancing classes (Salsa, anyone?), yoga and gym classes, and the like are all tech-free and will have your mind plenty occupied.
Clear out social media apps on your phone
I know, I know – it’s scary to press the ‘delete’ button for those Facebook, Twitter and Instagram apps! The thing is, those things will still exist on the computer. The same goes for your email.
Having a few of these things at your fingertips isn’t always bad news, but having ten apps you’re constantly both checking and updating is a chore, and it’s a huge time suck.
Instead, opt to only check Facebook or Twitter on your computer, or in the browser on your phone. If you opt to use the browser in your phone, the experience will be less streamlined, so you will likely cut back on technology without even realising it.
You also won’t see the little red number pop up in the corner to notify you of likes and comments. Speaking of…
Turn off the notifications
Ah, then what’s the point, right? Social media is a game of instant gratification, and we’re always on alert. The second our phone vibrates or dings, it is all of a sudden our main priority, even if we were just in the middle of something else!
Seeing those numbers pop up on our screens, hearing the notification noise or feeling our phones vibrate literally release chemicals in the brain, but they also drive our constant need for approval and ‘likes,’ while proving to be highly distracting.
Turning off the notifications gives your brain some much-needed downtime. Chances are, you’ll forget to check those apps and cut down on your screen time rather effortlessly.
Think of how many times you check your phone simply because you got a notification. This rule can help you set better limits for your phone usage and social media consumption.
Leave the phone at home
If you’re having trouble with checking your phone too often while out with friends, eating, taking a walk or anything outside the home, maybe it doesn’t need to come with you.
We rely on our phones for so much on-the-go, from coordinating plans and meetings to using it as a GPS. These problems have solutions, and you don’t need to leave the phone at home every time!
Our phones are often an extension of our pocket, purse or hand. Think about the panic you feel when you reach for your phone and it’s not there – it’s pretty crazy, right?
Once again, we’re not saying that these reactions are inherently bad or dangerous, but being able to feel safe, secure and happy without technology at your fingertips is something we should all be able to access.
‘Forget’ your phone a little more often.
What benefits do you see by implementing a tech-light or tech-free schedule? Share your tips for breaking the addiction to the screen below.
Music, mountains, dogs, travel, food and friends.