DIGITAL DETOX: Unplug to Unwind
WHAT IS A “DIGITAL DETOX”?
The phrase “digital detox” has recently become a health and wellness buzz term. Recent studies have found evidence that digital devices can be directly bad for our health, such as the links between smartphones and insomnia, or social media and seasonal depression. The idea behind a digital detox, then, is simple: remove the “toxic” digital devices, and see an immediate uptick in health and wellbeing as a result.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
Reducing our reliance on digital devices provides almost instantaneous results. According to recent studies we see immediate differences in our interactions with each other — we become more empathetic, we make eye contact, and we pay deeper attention to what others are saying. Memory and fact recall improve immediately, and we start to experience longer-term benefits like improved sleep, productivity, and energy levels. By stepping away from our digital devices, we find true peace through authentic interactions with our loved ones, our environments, and — in the long run — ourselves.
HOW CAN I GET STARTED?
It’s the little things. Like any new lifestyle change, it’s important to start small. Light from smartphones suppresses melatonin, which makes it more difficult for us to fall asleep. To combat this, set aside the hour before bedtime as a phone-free zone. Read a book (not on a Kindle or back-lit device), chat with a roommate, or go for a walk.
Healthy swaps. When you’re ready to take the next step in your digital detox, take an example from a healthy diet. Make swaps in your lifestyle, trading time you would usually spend on a digital device for activities that use no electricity. Instead of watching TV, play a board game. Instead of playing video games, go for a hike. Set aside the twenty minutes you would have spent surfing social media, and try your hand at meditation instead.
The family that detoxes together stays together. It’s always easier to stick to a new game plan if you’ve got someone by your side. Find yourself a detox teammate, someone who will go for walks or pick up a new hobby with you when you don’t want to sit on the couch watching movies.
Go big, and THEN go home. You’ve started out small and made some healthy swaps — now you’re ready for the real deal. A true digital detox doesn’t mean sitting in a dark room all weekend, and in no way, shape, or form does it have to be boring. Gather a group of friends for a weekend camping trip, or set aside a few days to conquer a project or new skill that you’ve been meaning to try. Let your loved ones know that you’ll be off the grid for a few days, and enjoy the immediate benefits of a true digital detox.
In the digital age, smartphones and smart devices are such an integral part of our lifestyles that getting rid of them completely is unrealistic. However, if you take a few moments out of the day — or a few days out of the year — to unplug and unwind, you might find that you don’t need your digital devices to find a new sense of peace and personal discovery.