“Just go on airplane mode!”
“Why can’t you just put your phone down?"
“Are you even listening to me while you scroll through Instagram?"
If you’ve been on the receiving end of any of these phrases, you might've rolled your eyes. I mean, can you imagine living without technology? I carry my iPhone around with me everywhere.
The fact that all of my bridesmaids lived in different cities wasn’t easy, but we video-chatted the weeks leading up to my wedding and had so much fun planning over Skype. The ability to meet with my clients who live across the country over video chat is something that’s allowed me a reach of impact that I wouldn’t otherwise have. I wouldn't have a health coaching business if I hadn't started a tiny little Instagram account over four years ago.
But... When I catch myself texting while I eat a meal, or (I can’t believe I’m admitting this) on my way to the bathroom, I cringe in shame.
So, is technology really that dangerous?
The answer is a resounding YES.
The Effects Of Always Being "On"
Electronics make our lives better in many ways, but being connected to others constantly can wear on our well-being. It can cut into our long-term happiness and lower our overall satisfaction with life - and who wants that?
The benefits of taking a digital detox (even if they’re mini-detoxes!) are profound. People who've taken a break from technology report a sense of feeling more closely connected to those around them. When we’re tied to our screens, our priorities shift from spending time with loved ones in person and can easily disrupt our well-being. Stress can easily increase, too.
We may feel more depressed and more alone in general when we spend an excessive amount of time scrolling Instagram (guilty!), rather than communicating face to face.
I’ve noticed myself struggle with this; I have to consciously build in time to see people in person to feel connected and grounded and frequently take technology detoxes where I place my phone on airplane mode and leave it in a drawer for a night or even a full day.
How To Do A Digital Detox (Without Going Crazy)
A digital detox doesn’t have to mean you cut out technology completely. As I always preach to clients, “Progress, not perfection!” I guarantee you’ll notice yourself listening to your body and mind more.
Here are a few guidelines to create your own digital detox. Use as many or as few as you’d like - everyone’s detox should be unique to their own needs!
1. Purge!!! Clean up, get rid of, and delete unnecessary technology. This approach can apply to entire devices (you can recycle old iPods, just Google where to drop them off!) all the way down to the apps on your phone. Which electronics do you use with regularity? Which electronics or apps can you part with? Even eliminating half the apps on your phone feels so freeing. It can lighten your mental load, even if you don’t stop using your phone altogether.
2. Make a date with social media. This sounds counter-intuitive, but scheduling boundaries around when you’ll use social media can free up your time and mental space. There’s no need to update the world (or your pages) every hour, and your friends and family’s posts aren’t going anyway any time soon.
3. Write in a journal. Remember when we used to have diaries? Social media has now become somewhat of a diary, but usually just the highlight reel. Give yourself a break from structuring every sentence to be perfect for FB or Insta. Some free writing in a journal can ease your mind and ease your desire to record yourself.
4. Meet with, call or voice text your girlfriends. One easy break you can take from technology is to reach out to your besties personally whenever you need support. Most of us will just text when we want to chat, but taking time to call, voice text, or meet in person can create a break from electronic communication. It doesn’t seem like much, but I make it a point to have one girl’s night once a month, whether it’s in-person in Atlanta or with my college besties on Skype!
5. Give yourself “breaks” for 1-2 days. You don’t have to give up your electronics for a very long time if you’re not ready to do so. Just take the weekend off, or stop at a certain time after work. Over time, you may even find these breaks to be addictive!
Have you ever attempted a digital detox? How did it go? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!