8 Steps To Digital Detox Your Life
8 Steps To Digital Detox Your Life
Are you scrolling through Instagram in bed at night as you fall asleep? Checking your phone as soon as you wake up in the morning? Chances are, if you’re not already reading this on your phone, it’s within arm’s reach of you right at this moment.
The advancement of technology today has made our lives exponentially easier. Want food at your door within the hour? There's an app for it. Need to sell that old jacket you never wear anymore? There's an app for it. So much of this technology growth creates freedom for us in many ways. Whether it’s through meeting new people via social media platforms and online communities, to seamlessly getting from one place to another (thanks Uber and Google aps!) But, for all the freedom it affords us, there’s a darker side of technology's 'wonderful' capabilities that can lead to addiction, the breakdown of relationships and even depression (we're looking at you, Instagram).
We’ve become so attached to and reliant upon our smartphones that we’ve forgotten how to function without them. Between social media notifications, texts and emails, it’s barely possible for our phone screens to stay blank for more than a minute at a time. We’ll needlessly check our phones if we’re bored, feel uncomfortable or if we can’t sleep. Studies have even shown that when we get a notification on our phones, it releases dopamine into our system which makes us happy — so it’s no surprise we’re addicted.
Sure, a digital detox is not as easy as switching off your phone and locking it away for the next 3 months. After all, we have work to do, emails to check and family and friends to stay in touch with. Cutting digital out of your life doesn’t have to mean living like a hermit or being on house arrest. There are a number of ways we can reduce the amount of ‘wasted’ time we spend on our phones and take positive steps towards a more self-fulfilling life instead.
Here are a few that have worked for me:
Disable Push Notifications
This is something I did a while ago now and have never, ever missed them. Every time you get a new app and it asks you to enable push notifications, don’t! They are pointless distractions and just extra temptation to waste more time on a needless platform. The only notifications you should get are texts (and even this is debatable during work hours etc), calls and diary notifications for meetings and important daily events. Turn your group chats onto ‘do not disturb’ mode during the day and all social media notifications should be turned off too.
Switch To Airplane Mode During Workouts
Sometimes just getting to the gym can be hard enough, so why allow yourself to get distracted by needless phone time when you do make it there? Most people spend an average of 45 minutes at the gym and that time can easily be wasted if you’re constantly checking your phone. Stay in the moment and make this YOU time.
Switch Your Phone Off At Night And Put It In Another Room
Switching your phone off at night is one thing but if it’s next to your bedside, the temptation is still there. Putting it in another room means you won’t be tempted to look at it if you wake up in the night. This can force you to do something else, like read a book or clear your mind. You’ll be surprised at how much better you sleep, and function, if you successfully do this.
Delete Apps You Rarely Use Or That Bring You Negativity
Chances are you’ve got A LOT of apps you don’t use on your phone so why keep them there? Just looking at the clutter on your phone can stress you out so delete the apps that you haven’t used in over a month and offer no positive addition to your life. Additionally, try to delete apps that you might use but aren’t offering you anything positive. For me, this was Facebook. I hadn’t been active on it for a while but I’d still find myself visiting the app daily, scrolling through the home feed and getting stuck in a never-ending vortex of cute animal videos. I deleted it from my phone and I’ve never gone back. My account is still active and I can go onto it via my laptop any time (those birthday notifications still come in handy you know!)
Make A List Of All The Reasons Why You’re Doing This
Temptation to regress and binge-scroll will creep up on you for sure. That’s why it’s important to make a list of the reasons why you’re doing this in the first place. Remember the way it makes you feel, the time you waste and all the things you want to achieve from detoxing, i.e increased productivity, a better connection with the real world etc. Write them down and keep them to hand whenever you feel yourself being tempted.
Find Your Backups
Whenever you feel the urge, it’s also important to have something else that you can easily switch to to focus your attentions on. It could be making a delicious meal from scratch or starting a new project. Or try calling your grandmother, or another family member who you never have the time to speak to, but who always loves to hear from you.
Start A Book
And no, I don't mean writing one (although, why not!) Anyone else forget what it’s like to actually read words on paper? There’s something nostalgic and therapeutic about getting stuck into a good book and, given that it’s become something of a rarity nowadays, it feels even more rewarding when you complete it. Find something that works for you, it could be a self-help book or a trashy novel. Whatever it is, just start reading, it’s amazing how great you feel when you dedicate yourself to some good old-fashioned quiet time.
Find Another Hobby To Focus On To Give You A Break From Your Phone
Allotting 1-2 hours a day to something positive and productive where I couldn’t be on my phone really worked for me. I would take a yoga class and leave my phone in a locker, go for a long walk and leave my phone at home or start studying for something (I started my personal training and nutrition certification). Whatever it is, make sure you can’t have your phone with you and you focus on the task at hand. After a while, you won’t even be thinking about your phone.
So if you're finding yourself voyeuristically exploring other people's lives online more than you're investing in your own, real one, perhaps it's time for a digital detox. Start a new hobby, set a new goal or reach out to an old friend. Whatever you do, take a break from your phone and take in the wonderful surroundings - you just might find something more interesting than funny cat videos (although there's always a time and a place for those too).