The pursuit of focus is more than a little challenging when we live in a world of push notifications and digital calendar reminders and status updates. For these attention-gets and so many more reasons, there’s a growing trend toward the digital detox. What is a digital detox and when do you know if you need one? We asked Morgan Ryan, wellness coach, to explain.
What is it?
A digital detox is a set period of time during which you refrain from using any electronic devices, including your smartphone, computer or tablet. The goal is to reduce stress and increase focus as a result of a conscious shift toward social interaction in the physical world.
What qualifies as digital?
- Video games
What are the benefits?
- Improved memory
- Renewed focus
- Allows for cognitive stimulation through other methods
- Gives your eyes a break
- Improves posture
- Holding a device or working on a computer causes an individual’s shoulders to become rounded and their neck to become bent downward
- Improves sleep
- Harvard released a study explaining how certain wavelengths of light (specifically the ones our devices emit) decrease melatonin production which decreases the body’s ability to fall asleep
- Helps break the reward systems we have created in our brains – instant gratification
- Allows time for other activities
- Gets you up and moving
- Freedom from continuous connection
- Allows you to be more present in the moment
- Mindful of how you use your time
- Time to engage in other activities
- Reignite passion
- Feel restored and better able to take on the day, the week, work, etc.
- Reconnect with those in front of you
- More meaningful conversation
- Limit interruptions
How long should my detox last?
The duration is really up to you. It is difficult because we live in such a device-driven society. If a person can only commit to an hour, than an hour it is. Ideally, 24 hours is a good amount of time. You should see benefits regardless of the time committed to it. As you become more confident in your ability to detach from your devices, try increasing the amount of time from 24 hours to 48 hours and so on.
- Turn off the alerts – If you don’t see it or hear it, you won’t feel compelled to look
- Fill your day with other things that don’t involve technology – Get coffee with a friend, try that new restaurant, go explore an antique shop, go fishing, hit the trails, read a book. The world is yours.
- Don’t do it alone – Encourage others to join in
- Put it away – Out of sight, out of mind. Put your phone/tablet/laptop/IPod in the closet where it can’t be seen. Close the doors to the entertainment center.
- Choose a day or time that will decrease anxiety – For instance, if you work a mainly technology driven job don’t choose a workday. Try picking a weekend or a day off.
- Simply turn it off.