by Alexandra Nicole Nuralam

Digital Detox? Here Are 7 Ways to Go About It

Image via @veneti.a

We’re living in the digital era when most things happen online. It’s inevitable because technology is part of our lives—we’re working eight hours a day from a computer, and when we’re not, we’re on our phones and Instagram.

Plus, it’s probably exacerbated while we’re stuck at home in a pandemic: binging Squid Game on Netflix, watching makeup tutorials on YouTube and playing video games—all of which involve staring at a screen.

If you’ve been feeling like, quite literally, disconnecting, you’re not alone. It’s easy to think about detoxing as a one-time, all-out event to reset fully and start anew, however, it’s not always practical. You don’t have to quit the internet cold turkey. Most of us need to use our phones and tune in to social media for work and to stay connected with loved ones.

Besides, forming habits that stick is all about consistency and balance. So start with simple practices that remind you to power down once in a while. A digital detox doesn’t have to be a full 30-day no-phone challenge; it can be anything from taking a 5-minute break to committing to a totally screen-free weekend.

Here are our tips for a digital detox that will help you recalibrate, rest and recharge.

Be realistic

If a full 30-day detox is what you have in mind, then good for you! But for most of us, it’s unrealistic since we do rely on staying connected for work or school.

Setting limits on when you can use your devices can be good for your mental wellbeing. If you need your phone during the day for your job, try doing a mini-detox at the end of the workday. Pick a time when you want to turn off your device, and then focus on spending an evening completely free of things like social media, texting and binging Netflix. 

Need Spotify to blast some Friday-night Beyoncé tunes? Set your phone to Airplane mood so you won’t be distracted by phone calls, texts and notifications.

Make it work for you

A digital detox should be whatever you want it to be. You might want to try giving up all your devices for a time, or just restricting yourself to using your phone only, or disabling your social media apps. At the end of the day, it’s entirely your choice.

You can also try the ‘one screen rule’. If you’re watching TV, keep your phone away from you. The key is to focus on one gadget at a time. Our tech dependency has reached a place where most people have two-to-three screens at a time all within easy reach.

Keep a digital detox journal

Forming good habits takes time and consistency, which is where a journal can come in handy. Jot down on paper a log of your device use in a week. This will help you determine what you want to cut down on or eliminate. At the end of the day, you can pen down your thoughts about your experience with the process. Bonus? Some people find the act of good old-fashioned journaling therapeutic.

Mute your notifications

You might enjoy being in the loop all the time by receiving constant updates on what’s happening around the world, but the truth is it’s also distracting. If you’re being interrupted by notifications several times in an hour, you’ll never be properly focused on what you’re doing at the moment. Start your digital detox by muting as many notifications as you can live without.

Take breaks away from screens

If your work involves staring at a computer for eight hours, try not to spend your breaks scrolling through Instagram or watching videos because it will only make you feel more tired. Stand up, move around and make a cup of tea. All these fresh breaks add up and will make you feel more energised.

Another tip to keep in mind is the 20-20-20 rule: look away for 20 seconds after every 20 minutes of looking at a screen. This will also give your eyes some time to rest, which will take away the feeling of tiredness at the end of your workday.

Try leaving your phone at home

If you’re feeling more confident functioning without your phone, try leaving your phone behind for a brief time. Not only will it let you really disconnect for a time—no posting about your dinner on Instagram!—it’ll also allow you to truly listen and interact with your friends. So the next time you are having dinner with a group of friends, leave your phone at home.

No screentime before bed

If you find yourself having insomnia, it might be because of that pre-bedtime scrolling through social media. Studies have shown that using media devices was linked to poor sleep quality, inadequate sleep, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Skip laying in bed playing on your phone and instead try reading a book or magazine for a few minutes before you go to sleep.

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