Is It Time for a Digital Detox?

We’re practically attached to our devices nowadays: The New York Post found that the average American checks their phone 80 times a day. It sounds egregious at first, but if you break it down, that’s just five times an hour assuming that you’re awake for sixteen hours of any given day. You could very well be checking more than 80 times a day and that’s definitely a sign it’s time to take a digital detox. With a summer holiday coming up, it’s the perfect time to do so. Taking a “digital detox” — where you reduce your usage of your electronic devices or eschew them entirely — can be just what you need even if you don’t have any vacation plans.

Why a Digital Detox?

Are you badly in need of a digital detox or wondering what some of the risks are if you don’t do them often enough? Here’s how you know it’s time to put the phone down for a while.

  • It’s become difficult to separate your work from your personal life. Whether you work for yourself or your job contacts you frequently off the clock, you need to set boundaries. For entrepreneurs and freelancers, this part is definitely more challenging because work can easily bleed into your personal life in exchange for the flexibility. But it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and like you have no escape from work when you’re constantly checking your devices for new emails, project updates, and so on. Spending less time on them will help you feel more centered on your “me” time versus time you’re available to get work done.
  • You’re becoming more anxious. All those emails piling up, people tagging you on social media and wanting your input, those scads of unread articles can feel incredibly daunting to think about — that you’re just not getting to these things and letting them accumulate to deal with at a later date. Being constantly tapped in can fuel this sense of anxiety that you’re constantly missing something.
  • Constantly checking your phone as an illusion of being busy means you’re checking out of paying attention to the world around you. If you’re not checking the time, waiting for a specific message or email, or other specific reason for pulling your phone out, then it’s time for a digital detox. If you’re constantly on the phone ignoring the world around you and without a real reason for it, it can have various detrimental effects.
  • Too much screen time causes physical eye strain and dryness. Staring at screens all day also has physical consequences that have been causing concern for ophthalmologists worldwide. Protracted and repeated device use can cause both short- and long-term eye strain and future vision problems.

How to Take a Digital Detox

Taking a digital detox is something you should plan in advance with at least a little notice. This way, you can handle your most urgent matters right away before you get to the time blocked off to disengage from your devices. Aside from just turning your devices off, here’s how you can disengage from the digital world.

  • Make a note of specific reasons for pulling out your devices. Do you need to look up something with a defined purpose like a medical appointment, address, or to find a friend in a crowded place? Use your devices for those purposes only and then put them on silent once you’re alone or with other people so you can stay in the moment with the people you’re spending time with or have the mental space to self-reflect.
  • Plan a specific day when you’ll have no devices on, plus some activities. Shut everything off for at least 24 hours, go longer if you can. It will help make you more mindful of what’s happening in the world around you and also help you enjoy the activities planned like going for a run, cooking, or working on an art project.
  • Go grayscale when you return. Setting your phone to grayscale can help combat phone addiction. Noir is a nice aesthetic that also doesn’t jostle the brain’s pleasure centers like the bright colors do that make you consistently check your phone at least 80 times per day.

You’ll have a more refreshing and engaged holiday that helps separate your work time from your alone time by taking at least a day away from your usual apps.

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