9 Keys to Doing a Digital Detox

To do a digital detox, start by spending less time in front of your mobile or computer screen. We'll show you 9 tips to reduce your addiction to technology.
9 Keys to Doing a Digital Detox

Written by Daniela Andarcia

Last update: 21 March, 2021

A digital detox? What’s that? Well, surely you’ve noticed that you’ll often come out with that typical phrase “Oh I’ll just check for a second to see what they’ve published”. You say “a second” just to convince yourself that you won’t be long because you’ve got to fulfill a commitment or finish some work. But…that second quickly transforms into an hour, and then two hours…and so it goes on.

When you finally “return” to this world, you can’t believe where all that time has gone! In fact, when you really sit down and think about what you do in the day, you’ll realize that you often spend little time doing profitable things. Have you tried going a few hours without your mobile device? Exactly, it’s an almost impossible mission.

You start to wonder if a certain person replied to you, what they’re up to, and have they published any more posts. You get so desperate that you find it irresistible not to look at your mobile for “just a few seconds”. OK, so maybe you don’t need to completely get rid of your digital device, but you could probably do with a digital detox.

Digital detox, why should you give it a try?

Display dependency can be due to many reasons. One of them is that the brain releases dopamine when other people recognized us, and social networks know that this is what “feeds” us – a “like” on Facebook or Instagram, for example.

The other side of the coin is that this creates stress, because your subconscious mind senses the absence of dopamine and wants more. That’s why, two minutes after sending a message or posting, you feel the need to check your phone. If this happens to you, it’s quite likely that you’re addicted to being connected, and so a digital detox won’t do you any harm.

The goal of a digital detox is to address the need for mindfulness in a different way. By being aware of living in the moment, and the state of your emotions and feelings, you can balance your life and be happier.

When you’re in full control of your senses and mental faculties, you’ll realize that your day off won’t last forever. Your laptop or mobile device could deprive you of living in the moment and inhibit mindfulness.

Reducing the use of screens is necessary to do a correct digital detox.
The constant use of digital devices can increase the stress level considerably.

How to do a digital detox

The experience of not being near your mobile device could give you a feeling of physical withdrawal similar to what people experience with drugs. When you remove your mobiles, the nervous system is activated, and it tries to give off a natural response of alarm and stress in the body. You can reduce the effect and make better use of your free time with these 9 keys.

1. Disable push notifications

You probably like to stay informed and that may be fine. However, when notifications from the news world constantly reach you, three or more times every half hour, then it can interrupt your concentration.

Pause for a moment and prioritize which pages are least important to you, clean up, and start disabling notifications. If you do this, then you’ll see the effect on the same day, it will greatly decrease your stress levels.

A study published by Computational Intelligence and Neuroscience, suggests that automatic notifications from smartphones affect performance and decrease task performance.

2. Minimize shine

The brain can be drawn to the brightness of the devices. To take away the shine a bit, put your mobile screen in grayscale or choose a black and white theme.

Also, change your general brightness setting on the device. According to research published in the Journal of Biomedical Physics and Engineering, exposure to mobile and tablet screens may even increase the risk of acne.

3. Put your phone away at lunchtime

These days, it’s quite common that when going to the table as a family, all the members, even the youngest, have their mobile on one side of the plate. Even if there aren’t any notification sounds or messages, your brain is attentive to the device ringing, and so, in reality, a large part of you isn’t really there.

The cellphone forces you to interact less with those who are sharing with you physically. Setting the rule that nobody should use cellphones during meals could bring more benefits than you’d believe.

However, this is not all. A study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that cell phones can affect appetite regulation, causing us to unconsciously eat more.

4. Have some tech-free hours

You may feel vulnerable the first day you try leaving your cellphone, tablet or television for an hour. It’s completely natural that you feel this way. However, that feeling reaffirms that you are addicted to these devices.

If you schedule an hour without technology, you may notice the change after a week. You’ll have greater control, you’ll be more aware and, as a result, happier.

5. Don’t wake up with your mobile

The last thing you see before sleeping and the first thing you see when you wake up should never be your mobile. It’s a mistaken belief that your mobile will make you fall asleep, on the contrary, it will delay your sleep and keep you awake most of the night. There is scientific evidence that it can increase your heart rate and impair your quality of sleep in the long term.

If, when you open your eyes, the first thing you’re looking for is your mobile, then, even though you may not feel it, this adds a few grains of stress to your day. It may not be easy to kick this habit, so try leaving your phone in another room and get an alarm clock.

Don’t rush to grab your device. Just enjoy waking up, and after an hour of stretching and clearing your mind, then you can look for your cellphone or tablet. If it seems like an impossible mission, you could start with 15 minutes and the next day with 30 minutes, and so on.

6. Enjoy a paper book

It’s far more satisfying to read a book and write on paper than on a device. The pleasure of the smell of books, and the joy of turning their pages is far more enjoyable than reading on your tablet.

Also, try to move your mobile as far away as possible. When it’s by your side, it will interrupt you in the same way as if you were reading the chapter of the book on your mobile.

A good way to do a digital detox is to read paper books.
Reading paper books, an activity that has been declining in recent years, could be beneficial in reducing stress from using mobile devices.

7. Only one screen at a time

According to a study published in Pediatrics, multitasking can decrease concentration, affect memory, and increase impulsivity. Similarly, it’s believed that it can impair academic performance.

The action of having your work in one tab and then opening another to “distract us for a moment” or just to answer a simple message, will make your brain work in vain. To restart your original task, you’ll need a few minutes to calibrate and regain focus again.

If you continue like this, it will turn into a vicious cycle that repeats over and over again, costing you many hours of actual productivity.

8. Sort your apps

You can decrease digital addiction just by cleaning your mobile. Most of us have a large number of applications that we hardly use at all. By eliminating them, you could reduce distractions and focus on the apps that are absolutely essential.

Try to hide social media apps and other distractions behind a folder – try to get them all off your home screen.

9. Find a partner

You’re more likely to meet your goal of a digital detox if you have a partner to motivate you both. Whether it’s a friend, family member, partner, or co-worker, planning together will help you cope better with addiction.

You will also be less tempted to turn to devices because you have someone to interact with. Why not plan to go for a walk or a trip to the mountains without your cellphone? Maybe it’s time you planned it!

What to remember about the digital detox?

We all need to be in control of our lives. In order to do this, you must start with being aware of what is really hindering your free time and just sapping your energy.

An excessive use of the mobile phone increases the addiction to technology. You’ll see the hours passing, but, at the end of the day, you won’t be able to say how you actually spent that time. You’ll have the feeling of not having done anything.

Among the benefits of a digital detox are better control and balance in your life, being less prone to anxiety and stress, having fewer distractions, a greater focus on productivity, improved sleep quality, and, finally, a greater appreciation of your surroundings.

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