Do you check your iPhone as soon as you wake up in the morning? Are you hunched over your laptop after work and on the weekends? Glued to the Ipad during your commute? You might be a good candidate for a Digital Detox.
If you haven't heard this term before, it's a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, and is regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world.
By periodically unplugging, you can start reclaiming the real life experiences that all those gadgets steal from us daily (albeit with our full permission). Sure, cutting digital consumption may sting a bit at first, but reconnecting with the people and things in life that really matter will allow your body, soul and mind to soar far higher than another peek at the 7-day weather forecast ever will. Sound interesting? Willing to give it a whirl?
To get into an unplugged groove, start by taking baby steps and keep challenging yourself to cut the cord a bit further every day without, of course, endangering your livelihood or life. Here are a few ways to get started:
1. Turn off push notifications
Getting constant updates on what’s happening in the world is informative—but it can also be distracting. "If you’re allowing yourself to get interrupted five times in a half an hour, you’re never actually focused in that time," says Jesse Fox, PhD, head of Ohio State University’s Virtual Environment, Communication Technology, and Online Research (VECTOR) Lab. One easy fix is to turn off as many notifications as you can live without.
2. Always ask "why" when you pull out your phone
Sure, our smartphones are handy tools for finding out answers, keeping in touch with friends, or even checking the time. But often, more often than we think, we use our phones to distract, to avoid, or to ignore whatever is happening right in front of us.
It is more important to be present and grateful for the moment.
3. Put the brakes on your email
Set aside time to read and respond to email. Don’t leave your email program open all day long. Alerts and beeps from incoming messages can interrupt your work flow and leave you unfocused. Instead, schedule specific blocks of time throughout the day for checking your email. You might even try marking your calendar and setting your availability to “busy.”
4. Make your bedroom a no-tech zone
“Most people use their phone for an alarm clock," says Dr. Greenfield. But when you reach for your phone to switch it off, it’s easy to start scrolling through Twitter. In fact, it’s best if you can leave your phone outside the bedroom at night and invest in an alarm clock. Also: If you’re getting cozy with your cell in bed, it’s less likely you’re getting cozy with your partner, says Jennifer Taitz, PsyD, author of How to be Single and Happy ($16; amazon.com). Make your bed a device-free zone and invite greater opportunities for intimacy—and sex. Oh, and you’ll also sleep better. Screens’ blue light tricks our brains into thinking it’s daytime, which makes it harder to drift off.
5. Cleanse you’re apps and social media
If you are ready to start at least one.
Power Off for a Day over the weekend day is a good choice since work pressures tend to let up. Sundays are probably your best bet, as it's typically intended for rest and relaxation.
6. Designate tech-free hours
Many of us feel "naked" when we’re without our devices, but taking breaks from technology can do wonders for our well-being. "Start by designating a certain time each day that’s tech-free—like while you’re eating lunch," says Adam Alter, PhD, a professor at NYU and author of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. "Then see how you feel after a week or so. Most people feel happy with the change, and they go on to expand it."
7. Periodically, fast from electronics
Once you mastered the tech-free hours it is time to move onto periodic fast. Yes, literally fast. Blake says that his family will spend an entire week—once in the spring and once in the fall—with no electronic devices. Having tried this technique myself last year, I can't overstate how positive the effects are. Although it feels a little scary at first, an electronics fast forces you to connect with others and with yourself, which turns out to be a pretty amazing experience Place your phone in a drawer and spend the day connecting inter-personally-not electronically-with family and friends.
Jen Agnew is a certified Integrated Holistic Health Coach and Personal Stylist. She specializes in work/life balance, holistic nutrition and body positivity. After 15+ years in the fashion business, she pivoted her career to follow her true passion of health and wellness by launching Healthstyled. Jen is driven to empower our healthiest-selves through nutrition, life style and body positivity shifts. No matter the motivation, Jen will help you create sustainable habits and style, along with new knowledge to live a healthy balanced life that is unique to YOU!
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