Detox Your Mind?
Some would say that technology has taken over too much of our lives. If we're not on our smartphones, we are binging on a trending show or news on the laptop or TV. Our digital devices are always popping up messages and flashing alerts that seem to need our immediate attention. Our obsessions with these devices detaches us from the present moment and may negatively impact our productivity, relationships, and ultimately our health.
What Is a Digital Detox?
A digital detox means taking a break and detaching, for a period of time, from the digital devices that may be overwhelming our senses. This can be periodic or more permanent.
Periodic detoxing involves setting aside some time to stay away from technology. This can be for certain hours during the day, or a full day or more of unplugging from all your gadgets. You can then use this time for things that are conducive to better health including exercise, exploring nature, reading a book, talking with a friend, or participating in a community activity or sporting event.
A digital detoxing lifestyle involves setting firm and lasting boundaries about using technology. It's regular and designed to limit the use of devices in your daily life for more productive uses.
Practically, technology is an indispensable part of our lives. The goal of a digital detox is not to do away with our devices entirely but to use them in a way that's better for our health and wellbeing.
Our Relationships are Suffering
Sadly, it is a common today to see our younger generation, and even some adults, obsessed with their smartphones. For example, watch people while they are at a restaurant. How many of them are using their phones while waiting for their food? Some even continue with their phones while eating. They are missing a great opportunity for traditional, real verbal communication with the people they are actually with.
Many people turn to their phones whenever they find themselves bored or unstimulated. We seem to be more curious about what is happening far away in the virtual world than in our current environment.
Unfortunately, some may not recognize the harm that comes with this "always on" technology-dominated life. The constant bombarding of "what's popular" and hearing other people's endless opinions about current affairs from news feeds, ads, emails, texts, games, and videos influences our minds. We also tend to curate our feeds so that we only get the content that supports the point of view we want to hear.
This is particularly harmful to our younger generation that has less, accurate historical perspective, life experience, and can be more easily persuaded by popular people with a media platform. While deciding what content you want to consume is a valuable freedom, in today's world this can be risky and isolate you from truth helping to create more divisiveness-especially when the content provider may be promoting an agenda that may not be healthy.
Think about how people behave today on social media and TV. Many of the talking heads have an opinion about almost everything and just blurt it out for all to see and hear regardless of their expertise. It is typically not based on fact and is sometimes coming from social pressure to conform to a larger agenda. We used to hold our tongue and not speak until all of the facts were in-and then only if we were qualified to speak on the matter. Hmn, now there's a revelation...
Perhaps it's time for us to have more personal, face-to-face, transparent, honest communication where we are accountable for what we say?
Our Work-Life Balance Has Been Adversely Impacted
The urge to always "be connected" can affect our productivity at home, work or school. We may want to check our social media feeds or keep up with the latest news and trends when we should be doing other things. And once we log in, there's always the temptation to continue scrolling down the timeline. Before you know it, we have wasted a lot of time that might have been better used elsewhere. Do these things in our news feeds really matter that much? Think about it.
While technology can certainly aid work productivity when used correctly by setting healthy boundaries for it's use, research shows that the internet and mobile devices can adversely affect work-life balance. Technology can interfere with how, and when we work, and it may bring on feelings of overwork. Some are unable to turn work off at the end of the work day or on evenings and weekends because we feel the need to respond to the 24-hour barrage of emails, text and other app notifications-most of which can, and should, wait until we return to our work schedule.
Our Stress Has Increased
One of the negative consequences of our over-indulgence of digital content consumption is that we are more stressed out. Why? For some it may be the fear of missing out. FOMO can elevate our desire to stay connected, leading to a feeling of anxiety when we're offline.
Depending upon the kind of content we are consuming, we may be overdosing on negative points of view and "fear mongering" news that is often designed to get us riled up or emotional entertainment designed to give us an escape from the issues in our lives that are troubling us. While we may feel like we are connected to so much more, we are likely missing out on "healthier connections" with real people in the form of relationships and physical activities where we used to spend quality, personal time with family, friends, or meeting new people. Hmn, there's another revelation...
In addition to reducing our amount of time online, here's some effective ways to help mitigate stress.
Digital Detox Examples
Doing a digital detox comes down to simplifying your life and becoming more present. It's about replacing an established behavior with a different one that becomes a part your healthier lifestyle.
Here are some digital detox examples to get you going in the right direction.
Put Your Phone Away More Often
Turn your phone off or put it out of sight when you are outdoors or with other people. This can help to make your experiences more personal and memorable. You'll be able to take in more of the conversation, smells, sights, and sounds around you. More importantly, you'll also be better able to pay more attention to the other humans around you, which will improve your relationships and communication skills. This especially goes for meal times. Pay attention to the people you are with, not your phone.
Find a Healthy Activity to Do
Consider reducing the amount of time you spend on social media and replacing that time with a healthier alternative activity that you enjoy such as reading a book, practicing a skill you want to develop, playing with a pet, playing a board game, exercising, talking with a family member or friend in person or on the phone, or volunteering for a community service activity. Start with something simple, fun and achievable.
Designate a Regular Digital Detox Day
Pick one day in your week and get "off-the-grid". Turn it all off and go do something healthy that involves moving your body and/or interacting with other humans.
Keeping Your Bedroom Free of Devices
A technology-free bedroom has many benefits that include allowing you to sleep better because you are minimizing potential distractions. Think about getting a traditional alarm clock instead of using your phone or at least putting your phone into night-time mode and out of sight two hours before bedtime.
Setting Digital Detox Rules for Your Family
A digital detox can be a thoughtful approach to bringing your family together. Setting guidelines about how and when everyone will use their devices might be a really good idea that can bring more awareness, improve communication and understanding, and help strengthen your family.
Resort to Paper Media?
Instead of binging on Netflix or social media, think about reading print books. Yes, they are still around and so are libraries where you can find amazing books and check them out for free. You'll also avoid the eye strain and the distractions from your smartphone or laptop.
Disabling Social Media and Other Content Provider Accounts
If you feel strongly that social media or other content subscription services are causing harm to you or your family, consider reducing the number of, or deleting, your apps and accounts. Remember to download your personal data first, especially photos. We survived 1,000 of years without social media, and processed food for that matter.
Curating Your Content Feeds
Not all content is bad and harmful. So you may not like the idea of deleting your accounts.
Curating your feeds is an effective way of controlling how you use social media apps and other content provider services. Unfollow or unsubscribe to feeds that don't add value to your quality of life. Reset your filters for healthier content, starting with your own mind.
Use Your Time With Purpose
The real problem is not the digital devices but how we are using them. If we are spending a lot of time on Netflix or Instagram or Facebook, consider better ways of using our time.
Why are we so addicted to our phone or TV? What void are we really trying to fill? How might we use our time with better purpose?
How to Do a Digital Detox
There are no hard or simple rules for doing a digital detox. We make the decision when we feel it is in our best interest to do so. Here are some guidelines that should help.
Find Alternative Activities
We may struggle with withdrawal symptoms when backing away from digital overdosing. Finding alternative but healthy things to do offline will be helpful.
Pursue simple things like walking, crafting, cooking, reading, attending a musical or sporting event in your community, or going to the library.
Replacing an unhealthy behavior with a healthier one is usually not easy, or fun at first, but it is worth it.
If a digital detox makes you feel liberated and empowered, you have nothing to worry about. Remember, the key is to make disconnecting enjoyable. It should be something that works for you rather than against you.
If at any point you feel overwhelmed, try to create favorable digital detox rules. Instead of going all out for a complete detox, choose a few hours when you're comfortable. With every new day, you can increase your detoxing hours until you're capable of a complete detox.
Let Friends and Family Know You're Digital Detoxing
Health and wellness goals are usually personal. You may not feel free to tell your friends what you're up to. But when it comes to a digital detox, sharing your goals might help.
Some social media apps like WhatsApp and Messenger are integral for modern communication. Telling your friends and colleagues may help to maintain the new boundaries you have set.
What's Stopping You From Doing a Digital Detox?
Your mental health determines how you think, behave, and interact with others. Given its critical role, it should be a personal priority to take appropriate measures to protect it. Here's a few more helpful ideas for your mental wellbeing.
Take a look at our wellness blog to learn about more ways to integrate healthier behaviors into your life.
Jay Todtenbier is an original founder of SupplementRelief.com in 2010 and has operated the business ever since. He is also a tennis instructor and gospel musician. Formerly he spent 25 years in business development, technology and marketing with startups and major corporations having gone through the tech boom in Silicon Valley in the 90s. He became passionate about, and began studying and practicing Wellness as a Lifestyle after experiencing chronic, personal health challenges including depression, auto-immune disorders, and being overweight that impacted his ability to live a healthy, vibrant life. Since then, he has been an advocate for healthier living encouraging others to live better through making small, gradual changes to lifestyle behaviors relating to whole-foods nutrition, stress management, reasonable exercise, proper sleep, and the use of targeted, high-quality supplements.
Learn more about Jay Todtenbier.
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