Digital Detox: It's Time to Put Down Your Phone

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Constant connection has its drawbacks, which is why some time away from technology can be so refreshing. When you're used to being glued to your screen, you may not even realize how stress, distractions, and the urge to keep up are affecting you. Constant screen time can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease, according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. It's also linked to weight gain, sleep problems, and depression, according to the International Journal of Obesity. Here are some tips to help you plan a successful detox.

What Is a Digital Detox?

A digital detox is a fast from technology. For a predetermined amount of time, you give up the glowing screens of computers, smartphones, and other related devices. Instead of posting on social media or spending time online, you engage in technology-free activities, such as reading, cooking, being outdoors, or spending time with friends.

What Are the Benefits of Getting Offline?

A detox gives you a break from the digital world of constant availability and activity. Some benefits include:

  • Peace and quiet to allow you to think
  • Time to pursue offline interests
  • Time to get active instead of being sedentary
  • Opportunities to invest in personal relationships
  • A boost of productivity and creativity
  • An understanding of how you use technology
  • A renewed enjoyment when you return to your screens

Signs You Need a Digital Detox

Digital connectivity is an amazing resource, but if you're chained to your technology, it may be time to unplug. Here are some signs that you're ready for a detox:

  • You're never offline. You check your smartphone the moment you wake up and you bring it to bed every night. Your phone is always with you, whether you're in the bathroom or eating dinner with a friend.
  • You never have downtime. Whenever you get a free moment, you tend to reach for your tablet, laptop, or smartphone, and you can't remember the last time you sat quietly in one place.
  • You think about social media constantly. Every conversation, every experience, and every person you meet feels like something to add to social media or a blog post. You have forgotten how to live without sharing digitally.
  • You're always multitasking. Your typical day includes scrolling through Facebook while writing an email, or even while you have Instagram open on your phone.
  • You get anxious without your device. As soon as you shut down your computer or put away your phone, you want to pull it out again. You feel anxious without a feed to scroll through and scan.
  • You don't think you can stop. The thought of staying away from technology for a day seems impossible.

Tips for Making Your Detox a Success

Empower yourself to take time away from technology with these tips:

  1. Start small. Your first detox doesn't have to be a month; try a single day. For 24 hours, stay away from all technology.
  2. Prepare ahead of time. If people depend on you to be online, let them know you'll be away for whatever length of time you decide.
  3. Replace your online activity. Use your time away from technology to pursue other enjoyable activities instead. Find a good book, get together with friends, go out and explore, or schedule a fun activity.
  4. Take time to rethink technology. During your time offline, reevaluate what parts of your digital life are worth keeping and what you don't need. When you return, feel free to unfollow, unsubscribe, or stop using the digital clutter in your life.

Just as you recharge your batteries or realign your tires, taking a break from technology works best when you do it on a regular basis. So after you've done one digital detox, try another. Consider working a regular break into your weekly routine. The more you experience the relief of disconnecting, the more you'll reap the benefits that come from a break.