Unplug on Holiday: Your Digital Detox diet
Our digital devices are so dominant in our lives. We endlessly scan social media sites, constantly check emails, obsessively text and message – and in the process haul around serious digital baggage that wreaks havoc on our minds and bodies.
There’s a pretty good way to tell whether taking the opportunity in the upcoming break to have a digital detox is a great idea for you or not. Does the idea of having a digital detox in the upcoming break:
A) Fill you with a cold sweat?
B) Not faze you at all?
If A. then taking some tips from the rest of this article could be just what you need. If B, wow, congrats on your willpower, (P.S. you may as well stop reading now).
In talking all things digital – laptops, iPads, smartphones – the main one we’ll be talking about on holiday is your phone. It’s likely to be the device most closely connected to your hip and your psyche.
Just in case you didn’t know…
Here are some random facts to help you make the right decision to kick the digital addiction.
- A study by the US Public Library of Science found the more time a person spends on Facebook, the more dissatisfied they ultimately feel with their own life
- The term ‘nomophobia’ has been coined for those who feel stressed when they can’t access their phone or when it’s low on battery
- Research has repeatedly found strong links between heavy smartphone use and increased anxiety
- Smartphones rob our brains of important downtime, preventing them from being creative
- The ‘sharing culture’ encouraged by social media has created a ‘compare and despair’ factor online
There are new types of online and offline social pressures we need to be aware of that we’re only just getting a handle on.
But guess what…we don’t need permission to spend some time off-grid or to feel guilty when we take time out for ourselves. A regular digital detox is hugely beneficial for our mental health and can easily be incorporated into our routines.
The summer holidays – which hopefully removes the need to check work emails – is an idea time to put away the devices.
Caution: this will not be easy.
For many, smartphones have become an extension of ourselves. The thought that you’re not able to check that Facebook update, Instagram cute cat GIF (here’s one to get you through) or even the old-fashioned (in the scheme of things) email can be like losing a limb.
This is normal (well, at least it’s the new normal). But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give yourself the chance to clear your head and refresh your body and spirit by ignoring its pleas to be played with.
Here’s a list that carried out separately, or together, may help rid you of the anxiousness of disconnecting from the always-on piece of glass in your pocket.
#1. Be unavailable – turn it off.
Yes, suddenly FOMO (fear of missing out) will kick in. Take some deep breaths. If it helps console yourself with the thought that you’re ‘allowed’ to have a 15-minute check much, much later in the day at a time you’ve predetermined for yourself.
There’s a great Digital Detox app on Android to disable your phone for a set period of time if you’d like a bit of help.
You might just discover the meaning of JOMO (The Joy Of Missing Out) if you carry out #1 successfully because you spend previously-occupied digital minutes on things that truly make you happy.
#3. Give yourself an allowance
Just like a piece of chocolate on a diet, giving yourself a daily time allowance might be more palatable. If the thought of going completely cold turkey is too scary, then establishing a maximum daily time allowance for your devices will make you much more likely to stick to your detox. But…don’t give yourself unachievable ‘allowance’ targets. A digital detox might be something you need to ease into.
#4. One at a time
Choose one technology habit to change at a time, and make sure that you stick to it for at least a week no matter what, before moving onto tackling another.
Make sure you get enough sleep – and store (and probably charge) your device in a different room to your bedroom overnight.
Make the effort to give people your undivided attention.
Pair up with a detox buddy. With this support, you can discuss your progress and encourage each other. A detox buddy will keep you (both) honest.
#8. Tell everyone
Tell everyone what you’re doing. The more people you tell, the more who are watching, the less you’ll want to fail.
#9 Just do it
Imagine all the books you might read, craft projects you could start – and finish – and time you could spend with family and friends.
Giving yourself a break, even if just for a day is a great way to launch your detox, and a starting point for monitoring your tech use after that.
Most importantly, what you might notice is you’ll be more mindful and relaxed because you’ll be enjoying the moment. You will have a better relationship with the people around you. And, finally, and not the least, you’ll have more time for yourself.
Bring on the holiday!
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