Are you addicted to technology? Here’s how to take a much needed digital detox.
Did you know that the average teenager sends more than 3,500 digital messages from their bed? Or that one in four people spend more time online than asleep? What about the alarming fact that the average person checks their phone 200 times a day? Hey, welcome to 2017. Chances are, you’re part of these statistics.
Aside from the major psychological and mental effects of technology addiction, having a constant distraction permanently glued to our hands is also damaging our ability to remain focussed, to retain information and to adapt to social situations. It even affects our ability to sleep properly. So now more than ever we need to start being smart about finding ways to disconnect and switch off. But how do we actually do this?Is there an app for that? Here are 10 surprisingly simple ways to take on a digital detox.
Use an actual alarm clock (not your phone).
Take a look at your morning routine. Your alarm goes off (with that dreaded radar sound piercing your ears) and you reach for your phone. You check Facebook. And WhatsApp. And Instagram. Probably the news. You skim your emails. Why not have a quick look on Snapchat? Sound familiar? Introducing an actual alarm clock to your morning routine is one of the most important steps to changing the instant behaviour you put into motion the moment you open your eyes each day.
Disable push notifications.
Push notifications are toxic. You see them and you can’t resist that niggling urge to check what’s happening, to stay connected. Ask yourself what you really need to be notified about. Do you really need to check that like on Facebook? Try disabling notifications for the little things and only have them enabled for things you deem necessary.
Turn on airplane mode when you’re working out.
This one is simple. You’re at the gym, you’re in the zone, switch your phone to airplane mode and smash it out for the entire session.
Introduce mini breaks: 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 3 hours.
Challenge yourself to phone breaks. If you’re a serial phone-checker, start small. Put your phone away for 15 or 30 minutes and resist the urge to pick it up. Over time, work up to taking breaks that last a few hours. Give yourself guidelines, such as when you’re with friends put your phone away for the entire length of time you’re together, or pick an activity and remain disconnected for the whole time you are engaged in it.
Switch off completely for one day a week.
Working on your mini digital detoxes will help you work up to this. And truth be told this one can take a little more preparation. If you’re nervous about being unreachable, find a friend or partner that people can reach you through and let your social circle know in advance. By keeping a regular day free from technology, everyone will come to know about it and in the case of an emergency they’ll reach out to your chosen person. Or send a pigeon.
Let your people know.
Tell your friends and family that you’re trying to spend less time connected to the digital world and more time connected IRL. By having their support you’ll be held accountable. The people closest to you won’t have a problem telling you when you’re being anti-social. Chances are they hate your addiction more than you do.
Find a backup plan when temptation strikes.
Breaking a bad habit or addiction takes time. And part of that process is about changing your behaviour. When you get the urge to pick up a device do something else instead. Stand up and stretch, fetch a glass of water or take a two minute walk outside. Fresh air is good for the soul!
Charge your phone away from your bed.
Insomnia is a common result of technology addiction. We need to allow our brains at least half an hour to an hour of time to wind down each night without technology before going to sleep. Literally putting your phone on the other side of the room before bed will stop you looking at the screen until you close your eyes and will curb any midnight urges to have a sleepy glance at your phone. Better yet, make it a rule to keep phones out of the bedroom altogether and watch your relationship with your significant other blossom.
Cut your email.
If you’re an email junkie, try to minimise what it is that you’re actually receiving. Sites like www.unroll.me are designed to help you easily swipe “yes” or “no” to your current subscriptions and decide what it is you actually want to receive, thus making the “why am I subscribed to this?” situation less painful to deal with.
Got some tips to add? Tell us how you like to digitally detox in the comments below.