Technology is a wonderful thing. It’s given us Netflix, online shopping, video games, and social media –– but sometimes you need to take a break from the cat memes and give yourself a digital detox. With infinite knowledge and endless distraction just a click away, it’s more important than ever to create healthy boundaries with technology. So tune in, turn off, and drop out because we’ve got all the info you need to find that sweet spot between staying connected and getting unplugged.
What is a Digital Detox?
A digital detox is when you disconnect from your TV, smartphone, video games, and social media so you can focus on real-life without the distraction of a screen. Don’t worry—a digital detox isn’t forever! Take a mini-detox after work, read a book on your morning commute instead of scrolling through the news, or make Sundays a tech-free day –– do whatever works for you! What matters the most is that you create time for your brain to reset.
The Consequences of Always Being Connected
These days, we’re more connected than ever. When it feels impossible to step away from the tweets, and you can’t stop doom-scrolling the news, you know it’s time for a digital detox. Being connected 24/7 might have you staying up late to play video games, feeling like you’re missing out on the experiences all your friends post about, or getting behind at work because the refresh button isn’t going to hit itself. Disconnecting is an integral part of any self-care routine for anyone who wants to optimize their creativity, productivity and have more energy.
The Negative Effects of Technology on Your Brain
You might not realize it, but too much technology harms your brain. From having a lower stress threshold to disrupting your beauty sleep, our screens are silently altering the way our brains work –– and it doesn’t stop there. Here are some of the negative effects technology has on that wrinkly pink thing between our ears.
- Reduces creativity: Technology encourages instant gratification and prevents us from having the patience needed for the more profound thinking skills associated with creativity.
- Negatively affects relationships: More time spent on devices means less time spent with the people you love and makes us feel less satisfaction and connection.
- Impaired social intelligence: Spending too much time in front of a screen interferes with our ability to learn from successes, failures, and the people around us.
- Trouble concentrating. Technology is constantly pulling us in multiple directions at once, making it hard to focus on what’s in front of us.
- Disrupts sleeping habits: The blue light screens emit has been proven to disrupt the circadian rhythms that help us sleep at night.
The Benefits of Doing a Digital Detox
Banish the digital distractions and reap the benefits of a techno-free life. Cutting out technology has massive mental health benefits, and you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel when you aren’t constantly connected. Benefits of a digital detox include:
- Enhanced sleep: Without blue light and the temptation to keep scrolling, you’ll get better z’s and have more energy in the morning.
- Increased productivity: Less tech means more time to get things done. When you’re not staring at a screen, you’ll have more time to do the things that matter.
- Better posture: “Tech neck” is a real thing, and improved posture is a significant benefit to ditching your devices.
- Improved relationships: Having more time for your loved ones can only be a good thing. Notice how much closer you feel to the people around you after going tech-free.
- More time for hobbies: Going on a digital detox gives you ample time to explore all those hobbies you’d long forgotten.
How to Do a Digital Detox
Give your brain a break! Read up on how to do a digital detox –– we’ve got tips on what to do instead of scrolling, how to get your friends involved, and how to stick to your new detox routine.
Do other activities instead
Harken back to the days of yore and try some tech-free activities. Getting a vacation from technology will offer you a fresh start. Go for a walk, get the family together for a game night, or read a book instead of staring at your phone. Take up knitting or learn how to bake gourmet desserts.
Establish limits and goals
Each week, make a goal of spending less and less time using technology. Start with a half-hour of tech-free time each day, then increase it to an hour the next week and keep going.
Get your loved ones involved
Get your family involved to make going tech-free into a fun challenge. Check everyone’s smartphone at the end of the week to see who spent the least time looking at their screen –– whoever wins gets to choose their favorite takeout for dinner or pick what to watch on movie night.
Whenever you’ve accomplished offline time, give yourself an award. Go out for a tech-free date night to your favorite restaurant, or get yourself that thing that’s been on your wishlist for ages. Set up a special ritual for your digital detox, like a spa night.
Types of Digital Detoxes
There are a ton of ways to take a tech break. Pick a couple of methods that work for you and give them a go for at least a week –– feel free to tweak times or alternate days to fit your schedule. Some days you might need to be on your phone or take a video call during a detox period, so roll with the punches and stay flexible.
Disconnect for a period of time
Designate a period of time each day that you’ll go tech-free. During lunch, after work, or before bedtime are all great places to start. Make it part of your routine, then see how you’re feeling after a week. Many people end up expanding their tech-free time because they love how it makes them feel.
Have technology-free meals
Ditching your devices during meals encourages you to not only appreciate the food you’re eating but to enjoy the company you’re in. Make it a rule that no phones are allowed at the dinner table, turn the TV off, and notice how much fuller your heart and belly feel.
Find a Balance with Technology
Digital burnout is real, and finding a happy medium is integral for living life in the age of the computer. We’ve got a few analog remedies to soothe your digital aches.
Prioritize human connection
We’ve all had that experience where we’re trying to hold a conversation with someone who’s more interested in what’s on their phone than are in the person right in front of them. Always prioritize the people in your life over the content on your phone.
Limit tech time for children
Technology can have a negative impact on children. Give your kids time limits on their digital devices. Use video games as a reward for doing homework and chores. Make sure your kids have a healthy relationship with social media by setting an age limit and making sure they don’t get caught up in comparing their life to the lives of others.
Find work-life balance
Finding a work/life balance when you work from home is a real struggle. Creating an equilibrium by letting your coworkers know you won’t be available after the workday is done and turn off all your work-related notifications.
Unplugging Your Home to Help
If you find yourself struggling to take a digital detox, try setting up your home to help you succeed. We’ve got some easy-to-implement tips that make disconnecting a cinch.
Use tech to disconnect
Fight technology with technology by turning off your notifications so your digital detox won’t be disturbed by dings and beeps. There are tons of time-limiting apps nowadays that turn off your tech for you or timed cellphone jails that keep your phone locked away for a set amount of time.
Park your devices
Set up a tech station at the front door with a table or drawer with all your chargers. When you walk in the door, plug in your devices so you aren’t tempted to use them. This encourages you and your family to focus on hobbies, books and spending more time with each other.
Take a walk, go to the lake, or just hang out in your backyard and enjoy the outdoors. Getting outside is one of the best ways to detox from your devices, and it’s an easy activity to get the whole family involved in.
Create a home that helps you disconnect
Set your home up for success. Start by putting up a table in your entryway where you can park your devices, then designate a room where no devices are allowed. Instead of having TVs in the kitchen, living room, and every bedroom, just have one in your entertainment room and call it good.
Create No-tech Zones at Home
Creating no-tech zones is one of the easiest ways to take a digital detox every day. It might sound intimidating to have an area in your home where devices aren’t allowed, but we promise you’ll love the difference it makes in your life.
Create an ‘unplugged’ room
Designate one room in your house that’s free of any digital devices. No TV’s, computers, iPads, or phones allowed. Make it super cozy with couches, pillows, plants, and blankets then bring in anything and everything you love that doesn’t involve a screen. Think books, crossword puzzles, board games, that hobby airplane you’ve been building, or set up a music nook so you can finally learn how to play the guitar.
Leave technology out of your bedroom
Park your phone in the living room overnight to create a quiet bedroom environment. Use an alarm clock instead of relying on your phone to wake you up in the morning and replace your nighttime TV show with a book instead.
Enjoy a techno-free kitchen
Sometimes it’s necessary to open up your phone while you’re cooking to reference a recipe. All the other times, unplug the kitchen and practice mindfulness while making breakfast or enjoying a mid-afternoon snack.
Unplug Your Home While You’re Away
The hidden energy costs of plugged-in appliances could be adding to your electricity bill. Try out these tips to save money while you’re away.
Unplug your devices to improve safety
Keeping all your devices plugged in while you’re away can potentially be a fire hazard. Older electronics, in particular, run the risk of overheating and causing electrical fires, and unplugging them when you go on vacation will not only save you money but give you peace of mind.
Save energy by enabling sleep mode on your devices to keep their batteries going for longer. Older appliances are less energy-efficient than newer models, so replace any outdated electronics with modern energy-wise models.
Electronics You Should (and Shouldn’t) Unplug
Do: Unplug small kitchen appliances like your coffee maker, microwave, and food processor. If you’re going to be gone for a while, unplug your chargers and entertainment system, too, since they use a lot of energy.
Don’t: Don’t unplug large kitchen appliances like the fridge or dishwasher. Keep powerstrips, carbon monoxide detectors, and the fire alarm plugged in. You can keep your high-efficiency electronics plugged in, since they’re unlikely to zap a ton of energy while not in use.
A daily, weekly, or monthly digital detox helps you stay connected to your physical surroundings, reduces stress and anxiety, and gives you time to enjoy your family, nature, or a hobby. These tips will help you find just the right balance for you.
by Teresa Siqueira