People are more chronically online than ever. While the internet and social media have created new entertainment, socializing, and marketing industries, there is such a thing as being online too much. Studies show excessive internet use can lead to poor sleep, disordered eating, reduced physical activity, and depression.
All these effects make managing your time online essential to a healthy life. Whatever your reason for unplugging is, we’re here to help. Here’s our guide to doing a digital detox.
Steps for digital detoxing:
- Decide what you want to change
If you’re considering doing a digital detox, you may already have a behavior in mind you’re hoping to change. Whether your goal is to reduce your time on social media, improve your work-life balance, physical health, or benefit your mental health, whatever your reason, reducing the time you spend online can bring many positive benefits.
- Consider how you’ll achieve it.
With any goal, it’s essential to set your intention and plan how to achieve it, including your digital detox. Luckily, there are many resources to help you reach your goal of unplugging, which we’ll discuss below.
- Commit to the process.
Without commitment, your digital detox won’t work. To achieve your goal of reducing your time online, you need to commit. Provide yourself with other activities instead of spending time on your computer or phone, and set reminders for yourself.
- Lean on support.
When changing a long-held habit, it’s always good to lean on friends and family. Telling people about your goal helps hold you more accountable and provides you with emotional support and motivation to achieve it.
Digital Detoxing best practices:
Use available resources
Many people feel addicted to their phones, and because of this, there are a variety of resources to help people reduce their time online. Some apps track how much time you spend on your phone, which gives you some areas of improvement to target. Other apps have cognitive behavioral therapy practices in mind by providing you with a journal-like format to consider the ‘why’ behind your phone and internet use. If you need time to step away from all notifications and the internet, turn on airplane mode.
By using the available resources to you, and luckily there are many, you ease the burden of disconnecting.
Turn off notifications
While silencing your phone the entire day isn’t realistic, you should turn off your notifications at least an hour before bedtime. If you receive calls, texts, or emails late at night, they could prevent you from getting proper rest. Additionally, if you know what hours you spend the most on your phone, it may be best to turn off notifications or even your phone altogether.
Set screen time
You may have heard of parents setting screen time for their kids, but this method can work even for adults. Set a limit to how much leisure time you can spend online. But remember, don’t go overboard with your limitations. It’s best to ease into reducing your screen time so you don’t lose motivation to keep going. For example, if you spend an average of 3 hours daily on your phone, reduce your screen in increments of twenty minutes. Most smartphones have settings allowing you to set specific times or limits to when you can be online or use certain apps.
Avoid use during dinners.
Many people enjoy looking up a Netflix show or Youtube video while enjoying a meal. Being on your phone while eating can lead to poor digestion, distract you from your food, worsen your posture, and increase your risk of a spill or accident. Instead of being on your phone or watching TV, focus on your food.
Create no-phone zones
Being chronically online can worsen your mental health. If you have difficulty unplugging and tend to use your phone in specific rooms of your house, create a no-phone zone. Bedrooms are popular spots because people enjoy scrolling before bed, so consider keeping your devices out. If you endlessly scroll while eating, keep the phone out of the kitchen. Consider where you spend the most time online and take your distractions out of it.
Keep it one screen at a time.
Many of us are guilty of having multiple devices going at a given time. While working, you might see a text or decide to check social media, and then before you know it, an hour has gone by. Or if you’ve ever started watching an episode of TV and popped open your phone, only to miss the entire show. Avoid getting carried away and aim to keep it one screen at a time.
Do some spring cleaning.
By spring cleaning, we don’t mean your house. Instead, spring clean out your phone. If you have a ton of apps on your phone, consider getting rid of the non-essentials. Or if you’ve somehow ended up on too many email lists, do a haul of unsubscribes. Additionally, consider canceling any subscriptions you don’t need or those that may be contributing to your excessive use.
Get mental health support.
The internet is more prevalent than ever, and some people suffer from addiction to the internet. Some signs you may be addicted to the internet include being preoccupied with your phone, being unable to quit, becoming frustrated when you don’t have access to it, and feeling ashamed or out of control.Depending on what you’re searching for, it can even lead to sexual disorders such as erectile dysfunction or make it difficult to become aroused. If you think you may be suffering from internet or phone addiction, it’s best to get professional help. With any kind of addiction, it can be challenging to recover by yourself, and doctors and therapists who specialize in the field can help you along the way.
Disconnecting online and Reconnecting with your life
Whatever your reason behind a digital detox, doing it can have positive effects on your life. From getting better sleep and improving your mental health, unplugging allows you to get back in touch with reality. While social media and the internet are fun for a while, don’t let them get in the way of enjoying your life.