A few nights ago I had a dream where my iPhone broke literally into two pieces and only the screen protecting foil was keeping the two pieces together. I woke up in the morning and looked at my smartphone thinking “What the actual F?! How can this break into two pieces?! And what is wrong with me?”.
You’ve probably heard of the term “digital detox”. We live in a world where doing all types of detoxes or cleanses is super trendy and cool. Anyway, the definition of a digital detox, according to Oxford Dictionary is:
A period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world.
Thank you, Oxford Dictionary!
We already know how hooked up we are to all the social media wave. We are so desperate to get more attention in the online, that we’re completely fading in the offline world. So we need from time to time to disconnect and to remember the things which matter.
Why a Digital Detox?
Well, a 2014 study by Bank of America indicates that one in two Americans can’t live a day without their smartphone. And that was in 2014! I imagine those numbers rose by now. The short version of this is that people spend too much time on digital gadgets, especially smartphones.
Besides the fact that is scientifically proven that the blue light digital devices emit is harmful to the human eye, the excessive use of Internet-connected devices is also linked to other health issues such as depressions, low self-esteem, lack of sleep or can increase the narcissism levels to some people.
So let’s recap all the bad things that are related to excessive usage of digital devices:
- affects your eyes
- affects the quality of your sleep
- can make you more narcissistic
- can give you anxiety
- isolates you from the real world
- helps create unrealistic expectations about life
- can lower your self-esteem
Related: How to Wake Up Full of Energy
So, as each good thing in our lives, everything should come in moderation. Being always connected is amazing; it makes you feel good and it also saves lives sometimes. But when losing your smartphone gives you panic attacks, you need to take a step back and re-think your relationship with your digital devices.
How to Do a Digital Detox
I personally think a digital detox has 3 stages:
- prepping the detox
- the detox itself
- learning points post-detox
Surprisingly, I think the detox itself is the easiest or less important stage. Yes, it is the main thing, but knowing how to actually prepare for it and what to take out of it is more important.
So let’s start with the first stage, shall we?
1. Prepping the detox
When you decide to have a digital detox, you should have some major points in mind:
- why are you doing it
- what “digital” means to you
- where are you going to have the detox
- when to do it
Obviously, the most important reason is why you want to start a digital detox. Define what makes you wanna start the detox; it might be a recent happy or sad moment in your life, a deserved break, a new beginning and so on.
Always, always keep in mind your why when you think about abandoning your cause.
We use a lot of electric equipment every day. Most of them make our lives easier, but we don’t need all of them. So to make things easier, make a list of all the digital equipment you use daily. Let’s define “digital equipment” as every device that allows internet connection and generates blue light.
In my case, my list would look like this:
- PlayStation console
Probably the most “dangerous” one is the smartphone since I carry it around with me everywhere, I’ve got too much mobile data, so I can use it a lot. I think a lot of you can relate to this situation.
I was tempted to not include my Kindle since I keep it on aeroplane mode almost all the time. But it still can connect to a network, so… sorry, Kindle. I still love you.
Ok, now that you have all the digital devices in one place, put them in a box – literally – and set it aside.
It is very important to choose the right time and moment for a digital detox.
Choose a place where you haven’t been before so that the habit of being connected to the online is not associated in any way. Maybe the countryside, mountainside or any other area you don’t immediately associate with sharing on social media.
We are all humans. Humans with jobs, kids and lots of other responsibilities. So you probably can’t leave whenever you want for a few days.
My favourite time for a digital detox is at Christmas time. I am very peaceful during that time of the year. I spend most of my time reading, writing or taking photos – also eating a lot. So take into consideration some factors like your job and family when you decide to disappear from everywhere.
2. The Detox Itself
You might think this stage is the hardest. But if you have a clear goal in mind and followed the previous steps, it won’t be that horrible.
The first few hours or days you will feel the urge to grab your phone and check your social profiles. I usually find myself scrolling through Facebook or Instagram out of boredom. So a good piece of advice to get through the first days is to keep yourself busy. When I’m super busy (not digitally-busy) or I’m having a really great time, I don’t feel the need to post about it on social media. Or I simply forget.
The truth is, I’m not such a huge social media addict, despite having a blog. I am quite a private person. So, in the end, it comes to your own habits and ‘addictions’.
My piece of advice would be to find a couple of things you really enjoy doing that doesn’t involve technology at all, like crafting, reading, knitting, jogging and so on.
Here are some ideas that might help you stick to the detox:
- set a reward for yourself if you achieve your goal
- find a detox buddy
- ask people around you to encourage you to not give up
- tell your loved ones you’ll be AWL for a few days
- set mini-milestones and rewards throughout the process (eg.: if you don’t check Facebook for an entire week get an extra spiced latte, or something similar)
- put all your digital gadgets in a box in give that box to someone you trust for a couple of days
3. The learning points
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?
It is very important to realize how it made you feel and how your social interactions changed.
A digital detox can tell you a lot about yourself: if you prefer to socialize or to be alone and enjoy certain activities, how addicted you truly are to digital gadgets and so on.
Take a moment to contour the major learning points from your digital detox and decide if you will do it again and what you could improve.
It’s proven that ditching the digital stuff in your life improves your social life (including all those social skills like empathy, communication and so on), gives you better sleep and healthier eyes and also gives you a different perspective of things around you.
We are human beings and no matter how much technology improves our lives, we remain human and we need to interact with one another – without technology.
Ok, now that you finished reading this, turn off your laptop, tablet or smartphone and go digital-free for at least a few hours.
Stay happy and healthy!