As the current year is coming to an end, you can finally put your feet up and focus on spending time with your family and friends. But as you’re having days off work and feel the boredom creeping in, remember that the holiday period is the best excuse to stay away from electronics and fight your email and Internet addiction.
Yes, we’re all addicted to the virtual world in one way or another. Some of us feel like we don’t exist if we aren’t on social media and need to post every other day, others can’t stop scrolling whenever they have the chance and spend every free second on their laptops. Unfortunately, social media floods us with dopamine which would be great if it wasn’t so addictive and didn’t come with many downsides.
Here’s why digital detox is good for you:
- Social media can make you feel more stressed and insecure, so this is a perfect time to do a digital detox.
Social media is one of the best tools to express yourself, but it also creates an idealized version of reality. How many times have you posted a picture in which your skin didn’t look flawless or a video that didn’t take more than one try?
We are all guilty of this; everything published on social media must be perfect. This creates many dangers such as constantly comparing ourselves to other people and lowered self-esteem. It’s hard to accept yourself when you only ever share photos that look nothing like you and when all you see on your feed are perfect selfies and perfect lives.
And if you’re one of these people who use social media to share their passion with a wider audience, you might fall victim to constant pressure to produce content. It’s great if you live and breathe your hobby but we all need a break sometimes and feeling forced to post can make you resent doing things you love the most.
- Social media can make you feel like you’re missing out.
The point of social media is sharing the most enjoyable moments of your life which is great on the surface; you can easily find inspiration and entertaining content. However, viewing what other people are up to might also make you feel like you’re doing it all wrong because, let’s say, you aren’t surfing in Hawaii or going on a different adventure every weekend.
Even if you’re happy with your life, surrounding yourself with people who do so many exciting things can make you feel inadequate. Having such easy access to others’ lives is also the reason social media makes you so competitive. You can always stumble across people who achieved more in the same area of expertise or people who are younger and more successful in general. This might make you feel like you’re not doing enough and consequently, that you’re not enough.
- Digital detoxing will improve your mood and enhance your wellbeing.
While switching your phone off might feel uncomfortable at first, the rewards outweigh the costs. For starters, you’ll finally learn how to live in the present. No more taking pictures of sunsets instead of enjoying the sight and filming concerts instead of focusing on the experience – what matters is here and now.
Secondly, there won’t be any people you can compare yourself to apart from yourself. You’ll become your only competition. This will help you reconnect with your values and encourage you to set goals that have nothing to do with other people and their achievements. Almost like a clean slate.
- Internet is time-consuming, which makes doing a digital detox necessary.
Have you ever tracked how much time you spend on social media? It’s likely much more than you think because when you’re in a virtual world one thing leads to another. You might tell yourself that it’s the last video you’ll be watching but then a few interesting propositions pop up and you end up staying up until 1 am.
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Losing sleep might not seem like a big price to pay for a bit of entertainment but think of how many things you could be doing instead of looking at your phone. The possibilities are endless: you could take on a new hobby, spend more time with your family or learn a new skill. You could finally live to the fullest.
- Doing a digital detox can help make you more productive.
Social media is the biggest distraction there is. There’s always new content to look at and there’s always something being posted every few seconds. Even when your phone is switched off, you might be wondering what your friends are up to and if your favorite artist had updated their status. This can prevent you from concentrating on work and reaching your goals.
A digital detox will allow you to be more productive and more likely to be successful. Staying away from social media might also help you restore your work/life balance. If you can’t stop yourself from reading emails while you’re away on a holiday, you know that it’s time for a change.
- You can become physically healthier.
Not many people have heard of the ‘texter neck syndrome’, yet It’s a very popular condition that affects everyone who leans forward for a prolonged period (read: spends too much time on their phone). It can translate into chronic back pain and neck conditions that can make your life very unpleasant to say at least.
Additionally, staring at the screen for a few hours per day can damage your eyesight and even cause so-called cybersickness. And if you tend to use electronics before going to bed, I have bad news for you. It can significantly affect your sleep and lead to many other health issues if the problem turns chronic.
How Do I Know I Need Digital Detox?
The first tell-tale is your general wellbeing. If you’re feeling stressed and anxious, and aren’t getting enough sleep, it might be a sign it’s time to make changes in your lifestyle. You should also pay attention to your relationship with social media; how long can you stay focused on work without the need to check your phone?
How often do you think about social media and how do likes and comments affect you? Imagine that you posted a picture no one interacted with; how would it make you feel? Is it affecting your self-esteem? If social media often occupies your thoughts and influences your mood, keep reading to find out how to do a digital detox.
Ways To Do Digital Detox
There isn’t one approach that works for everyone, but commitment and a strong will are half of the success. Here are top ways that can help you break with the addiction once and for all:
- Start small.
Unfortunately, digital addiction isn’t much different from any other addiction, except it’s more socially acceptable. It means that to quit, you have to be realistic about setting your goals. Going cold turkey with a digital detox might be a quick fix but won’t work as a long-term option. You can start small by not using electronic devices for two hours before going to bed. If this isn’t challenging enough, install an app on your phone that limits how much time you can spend using the Internet.
- Get rid of distractions.
Notifications are what keeps you hooked and interrupts your workflow. To make it less likely you’ll be checking your phone every few minutes, turn off your notifications and put it in a plane mode whenever you must stay focused. You should also try to resist the urge to check emails even if your account is work-related. There are plenty of apps that can temporarily block websites you use.
- Get creative.
Sometimes having the will to change isn’t enough and you have to get creative to stay motivated. One of the clever things you can do is putting sticky notes on the wall which will serve as a reminder not to use social media while working. You can also let your friend know that you’re doing a technology detox and ask them to check if you’re sticking to the plan – it will make you feel more accountable and less likely to fail. Plus, they might even consider joining you and you can both support each other.
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- Set aside time for using electronics.
Setting limits doesn’t always work because you end up having an interesting conversation with a friend or reading shocking news or getting distracted in any other way. That’s how addiction works, and we’ve all been there. Quitting and doing a digital detox isn’t easy but you can try this strategy instead: choose a time when you’re allowed to use technology each day. For example, you could use your phone for half an hour before work and then have an hour of interrupted social media time after work. Do whatever works for you.
- Figure out what aspect of the Internet takes up the most of your time.
As an avid Internet user, you’re likely to have an app you just can’t get enough of. Are you guilty of watching too many YouTube videos or chatting with your friends on Facebook for hours on end? Figure out which app is the most time-consuming and limit how long you use it. Even if you take this one thing out of the equation, it might be a big improvement.
- Delete apps from your phone.
Phones are what fuels digital addiction the most because we take them everywhere. Look around next time you’re in a waiting room at the local clinic or on the bus. All young people are on their phones and you’re most likely one of them. If you’re tempted to use social media when you’re out and about, do yourself a favor and uninstall all social media apps. A subtle change like that will cut down the time you spend staring at the screen and allow you to stay in the present.
- Try to spend more time outside of the house and live in the ‘real world’.
Social media gives us the illusion of being connected but it only isolates us more in reality. Next time you’re exchanging memes with your friend, ask them to hang out and make a promise to yourself that you won’t be checking your phone. You should also prepare a list of things you can do instead of surfing the net when you’re bored.
If you don’t know what to do with your free time, go for a walk, do yoga, dance… anything that lets your brain take a break from constant stimulation. Being around nature is especially good for you – studies show that the natural environment can help you beat cravings and positively impacts your wellbeing. 
8. Make simple lifestyle changes and do digital detoxes every so often.
It's true that electronics are extremely handy. For example, you no longer must take books with you on a holiday because everything fits into one device. You can find any information you need and read the news without buying a newspaper. It’s all in one place. Unfortunately, as convenient as it is, it only contributes to your addiction. Analyze your daily schedule and see what you can do to improve things. Perhaps you can go back to reading paper books or settle for audiobooks.
- Lastly… don’t forget to experiment with different approaches.
What works for other people, might not necessarily work for you when you do a digital detox. You might struggle with limiting the time you use social media each day but find it easy to make your weekend completely electronics-free. Remember, every improvement is great, no matter how small but try different approaches before you commit to one.
I hope you’re feeling inspired enough to give digital detoxing a go. Do what you can to stay away from social media and gift yourself the best present you can this Christmas: improved health and more quality time with your family and friends. Hopefully, it can become your new year’s resolution that turns into a habit.
About the Contributor
Joanna Cakala is a multilingual writer based in the UK. Combining a degree in Psychology and passion for writing, she started her freelance journey penning articles on mental health.