What Is A Digital Detox? 5 Ways To Do A Digital Detox
What Is a Digital Detox? 5 Ways to Do a Digital Detox. A digital detox refers to a period of time when a person refrains from using tech devices such as smartphones, televisions, computers, tablets, and social media sites. “Detoxing” from digital devices is often seen as a way to focus on real-life social interactions without distractions. By forgoing digital devices, at least temporarily, people can let go of the stress that stems from constant connectivity.
Before you decide if it is right for you, consider some of the potential benefits and methods of doing a digital detox.
Reasons for a Digital Detox
For many people, being connected and immersed in the digital world is just a part of everyday life. According to research from the Nielsen Company, the average U.S. adult spends around 11 hours each day listening to, watching, reading, or interacting with media.
There are many reasons why you might want to give up your mobile phone and other devices for a brief time. You might want to enjoy time to yourself without the interference that your phone and other devices create. In other cases, you might feel like your device use has become excessive and is adding too much stress to your life.
In some situations, you might even feel like you are addicted to your devices. While technology addiction is not formally recognized as a disorder in the DSM-5, many experts believe that tech and device overuse represents a very real behavioral addiction that can lead to physical, psychological, and social problems.
Signs You Might Need A Digital Detox
- You feel anxious or stressed out if you can’t find your phone
- You feel compelled to check your phone every few minutes
- You feel depressed, anxious, or angry after spending time on social media
- You are preoccupied with the like, comment, or reshare counts on your social posts
- You’re afraid that you’ll miss something if you don’t keep checking your device
- You often find yourself staying up late or getting up early to play on your phone
- You have trouble concentrating on one thing without having to check your phone
How To Do A Digital Detox
Some might suggest that a true digital detox would involve predefined abstinence from any and all digital devices and social media connections, but it is important to make your device usage work for your own life and demands.
Detaching from your devices can benefit your mental well-being, but doing a digital detox does not have to involve a complete separation from your phone and other tech connections. The process is often more about setting boundaries and making sure that you are using your devices in a way that benefit, rather than harm, your emotional and physical health.
Here are some tips from the book to help you do a digital detox.
1. Remove Distractions
Blake teaches us about the four burners theory—your four burners are family, friends, health, and work. Anything that is not essential to your four burners should be removed. “That means no alerts, beeps, buzzes, or notifications of any kind, perhaps with the exception of voicemails for emergencies.” But Blake notes that “most emergencies are imagined.” By instituting these practices and removing distractions, we focus on what really matters and make better use of our time.
2. Don’t Glamorize Busyness
It seems silly how proud we are of being busy. Blake notes that explanations of, “I’m so busy!” are really just our attempts to avoid making hard choices about how we live our lives. Staying busy is easier than taking time to pursue what would really make us happy. Worse yet, the Internet makes it so easy to be “busy” indefinitely. So be careful not to glamorize busyness. By doing so, you can start to think more clearly about how you are choosing to spend your time.
3. Always Ask “Why” When You Pull Out Your Phone
Sure, our smartphones are handy tools for finding out answers, keeping in touch with friends, or even checking the time. But often, more often than we think, we use our phones to distract, to avoid, or to ignore whatever is happening right in front of us.
“I truly believe that keeping our phones in our pockets is one of the bravest things that any of us can do,” Blake says in the book. Instead of pushing down our anxiety—perhaps when we’re sitting alone or just feeling alone with a group of people—we can choose not to use our phones as a security blanket. Then we remember how to be present and grateful for the moment.
4. Try Using The Rule Of Thirds
Divide your life into thirds—8 hours for work, 8 hours for sleep, and 8 hours free. Working more does not actually make us more productive. Working smart and keeping time free allows our minds to wander in ways that make the hours we do work more effective. In fact, research shows that for rote workers, more than 40 hours per week diminishes productivity for creative workers, more than 20 hours per week does. So if you let your smartphone be your work ball-and-chain, you’re not doing yourself any favors when it comes to productivity.
5. Periodically, fast from Electronics
Yes, literally fast. Blake says that his family will spend an entire week—once in the spring and once in the fall—with no electronic devices. Having tried this technique myself last year, I can’t overstate how positive the effects are. Although it feels a little scary at first, an electronics fast forces you to connect with others and with yourself, which turns out to be a pretty amazing experience.