Life is ALL about what's happening when you're NOT looking at your smartphone.
Modern culture is driven by technology. Despite the vital role that technology plays in the advancement of society, our personal lives, and careers, the overuse of technology can be detrimental to your physical and mental health. The good news is that you can “reboot” yourself with a digital detox that can refocus your life and improve your wellbeing. In fact, digital detox and mental health are strongly interrelated, as digital detox has been proven to be effective in regaining excellent mental health status.
As a business owner and an entrepreneur, I admit that unplugging is nearly impossible. However, as I began to suffer from anxiety, insomnia, and other side effects of tech addiction firsthand, I realized that I needed to start drastically reducing the amount of time I used technology or my mental health would continue to suffer. Thus, I started incorporating brief digital detoxes into certain periods of my day, which would allow me to reduce my overall mental strain but wouldn’t prevent me from running my business.
If you do what I’ve done and start reducing your usage of technology, you will start to see the many advantages these tech-free periods of the day can provide on your mental health. Within this article, I have compiled tips I’ve incorporated into my own life to help you unplug and make positive changes in your own mental health this year and beyond.
Here is everything you need to know about digital detox with additional tips, so you and I are better equipped to brave this difficult yet rewarding detox challenge.
Time to begin! 📵
Is Technology Addiction a Real Problem?
Unfortunately, the answer is “yes.” Technology addiction ranks right up there with drug and alcohol addiction. In fact, computer/internet addiction is now recognized as a mental disorder is classified in the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). A 2014 study concluded that the global prevalence of technology addiction is 6%, which is three times more than that of pathological gambling (2%). A digital detox program is a sound option for the treatment of technology addiction.
What Are the Consequences and Effects of Technology Addiction?
Before delving into our digital detox program, it is important to understand the many physical and mental effects of tech and internet addiction. Once you are aware of the harmful consequences of technology addiction, it will increase your motivation to start and stay the course during your digital detox journey.
Here are some of the harmful side effects of technology addiction, which should also serve as motivation and a legitimate reason for a digital detox:
- Feelings of guilt
- Euphoric feelings when in front of the computer
- Poor time management
- Strained vision
- Lack of focus
- RSI (repetitive stress injury)
Digital Detox Benefits
- It Creates Physical Connections
One of the many uses of social media is the creation of connections across the globe. Though it may be advantageous to our careers or personal lives, most often we neglect creating close bonds with the people around us. To detox from social media may seem irrelevant at first. It will, however, have a lasting impact when fostering relationships with your family, friends, loved ones, and the community. While on your digital detox journey, why not volunteer in your community, spend time with your loved ones, or even meet somebody new and in person?
- It Stops Multitasking and Declutters the Mind
Countless studies have outlined the inverse relationship between multitasking and productivity. Multitasking creates the false illusion that we are achieving a greater number of goals than we actually are. In reality, it makes us more prone to errors, reduces our work speed, and decreases our concentration. A digital detox helps to declutter our minds so we can focus our time and attention on matters that are the most important, whether personal or professional.
- It Increases Your Desire to Be Freed from Digital Addiction
You will have to face withdrawal symptoms during your digital detox journey. Thankfully, as you continue this journey, your withdrawal symptoms will gradually decline, and your desire to detox will increase. Strictly speaking, you will experience an increased eagerness to disconnect from your devices and live in the present. It is an exhilarating feeling that you can quickly get used to.
- It Alleviates Physical and Mental Symptoms
Ultimately, if technology addiction leads to physical and mental issues, nothing makes better sense than to remove the source. Creating a digital detox plan and adhering to it, will help you quit or drastically reduce the usage of various devices. In turn, you should be more focused, have less anxiety, and get better quality sleep.
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Top 6 Digital Detox Tips
You might be clueless as where to start once you have committed to take on the digital detox challenge. That's fine, I was clueless too. The best way to start is to create a plan that addresses the following questions:
- What are the goals you wish to accomplish?
- How will you incorporate these digital detox tips and steps into your daily schedule?
- Will you do a digital detox at home and/or at work?
After mapping out your personalized program, examine the following tips and determine ways of incorporating these actions into your life.
- Turn Off Alerts and Notifications
Turning off your smartphone alerts is a simple yet effective step to start with. The majority of phones come with a Do Not Disturb setting, or you even have the option to block notifications from email and certain apps. Taking this step will do wonders for your mental health, as a study conducted by Nottingham University reveals that approximately one third of all notifications and alerts can aggravate our moods. Subsequently, conducting a digital detox to enhance your quality of life is easy once you implement the necessary measures.
- Establish Tech-Free Zones
Creating tech-free zones when doing a digital detox at home or at work is another efficient way of combatting tech and social media addiction. Many people who have committed to a digital detox challenge, designated their tech-free zones to be the dining room table, the car, and the bathroom. You can follow those suggestions or create your own device-free spaces. You can apply this tip to your personal or professional life, and it can be adopted by the whole family. Not only will it improve communication, but it can serve as a solid example for your children.
- Use Digital Detox Apps
I know, it may seem ironic to use technology for the treatment of technology addiction, but the use of digital detox apps is an efficient and successful strategy and is worth considering. There are many apps to choose from, and they are available in your phone’s app store and you can customize the settings to suit your personal needs. Here are five useful and easily downloadable, digital detox apps for either your iPhone or Android:
- Remain Devoted to Phone-Free Time
By devoting ourselves to established phone-free times, you will need to implement the Rule of Thirds. The Rule of Thirds offers guidelines to assist us with the organization of our daily schedules and technology use. It dictates that by dividing 24 hours by 3, we will have 8 hours for rest, 8 hours for work and 8 hours of free time. In the 8 hours dedicated to work, it gives you the liberty of using your smartphone and computer only when deemed necessary. On the other hand, in the 8 hours you have free, you are not allowed to use any technology. This method also contributes to an increase in productivity. As research suggests, working more than 40 hours per week can lead to a drastic reduction in productivity, called diminishing returns.
- Find a Detox Buddy
Building a healthy support system is another way to reinforce your commitment to a digital detox. Ideally, you should find someone who takes part in a program with you so that you can support one another during the journey and share learnings.
6. Take Periodic Digital Detox Retreats
A digital detox retreat, which is a fun and promising way to combat tech addiction, is a great way to take us out of our hectic environment and place us in a serene and peaceful natural haven along with a reliable support network. Companies like DigitalDetox.com offer formal retreats, while taking some time “off the grid” is a less formal way to “retreat” from a world overrun by technology. Take a weekend day or full weekend and spend it in nature with your phone turned off. Do this as much as possible, at least twice a month, while schedule formal retreats on a semi-annual basis.
- Let Your Friends and Loved Ones Know
Informing your friends and loved ones of your digital detox commitment serves two extremely beneficial purposes. First, it will help them understand why you will not be reachable or available for non-urgent matters. Secondly, they can offer additional love and support during this process. That’s why it’s important for the people close to you to be aware of your changing availability and personal commitment when you start your digital detox.
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Starting a digital detox challenge may seem daunting and nearly impossible to achieve, but if you break it down into steps and apply the tips we’ve provided, you will realize your digital detox objectives and mental health goals are not only attainable but will also bear fruit.
More About Us...
Blue Ocean Life is a supportive community of wellness warriors and socially conscious professionals who are uniting to promote positive mental health and wellness for society as a whole.
To showcase our advocacy for digital detox, we designed the Diamond Collection featuring our signature diamond design whose 4 sides represent the four natural elements: earth, wind, fire, and water. Our designs should serve as daily reminders to disconnect from the tech-crazed world and reconnect with the natural elements to improve your mental health. 🏞️