It’s Time To Schedule A Digital Detox- PUBLISHED AT APOTHECAI.COM
“ALMOST EVERYTHING WILL WORK AGAIN IF YOU UNPLUG IT FOR A FEW MINUTES, INCLUDING YOU.”—ANN LAMOTT
So many aspects of our lives have been positively impacted by new technology, but there comes a point when we have to ask: How much is too much?
We tend to start the conversation by looking at the behaviors of our children. A decade ago, we were outraged that children were watching 4 1/2 hours of television per day. Then came the rise of smart phones, cheap(er) Internet and computers, and social media. These days “low” total screen time for teenagers is described as between 18-22 hours and the “above average” end of the spectrum is well above 50 hours per week. Even our kindergartners are using tablets in the classroom.
Now, adults are likely more plugged in than children. Many jobs require 40 hours per week of screen time, not to mention the hours we spend on Netflix, scrolling through our phones, taking pictures, posting to social media, or perusing the Internet outside of work. Long gone are the days of Internet cafes and slow connections. Tech savvy and plugged-in is the new normal.
According to Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing Our Brains,
“WE GOT THE GREAT REWARDS OF HAVING BASICALLY UNLIMITED INFORMATION AT OUR FINGERTIPS, BUT THE COST OF THAT WAS WE CREATED A SYSTEM THAT KEPT US IN A STATE OF PERPETUAL DISTRACTION AND CONSTANT DISRUPTION.”
Beyond our decreasing attention span comes the perils of social media and Internet use gone wrong: low self-esteem, depression and compulsive or addictive behavior.
CRAVING A DIGITAL DETOX?
You probably don’t need studies to prove that too much screen time can have a negative, if not toxic, effect on your brain and sense of well-being. Step away from electronics for 24-48 hours to restore some peace of mind and cultivate a healthy perspective.
Discover our top tips.
SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS
If you’re like me, you take pride in being available and responsive—at work and with your children, friends and partner or spouse. Schedule your digital detox like a vacation and set an automatic response on your email letting people know that you are away from your desk for 24-48 hours and will return on X day. If it puts you at ease, follow suit with your voicemail. You can even set up an auto-reply for your text messages.
SPEND TIME IN NATURE
If electronics are becoming the poison, nature is the antidote.
Step outside and find a little piece of the wild, alone or with a friend. Take a walk; jump in the ocean; find a place to sit and meditate; watch the waves or the trees or the clouds; bring a journal and a pen or watercolors. Use your senses to go deep inside your being and experience the bliss of being alive in this beautiful world.
TAKE TIME TO CONNECT WITH LOVED ONES
Schedule some dates with loved ones in advance and let people know that they will not be able to get in touch with you for last minute cancelations. If an emergency happens, they can call the restaurant or cafe. Invite a friend for an outdoor adventure or run, or take some time to indulge in a spa day, distraction-free. If you are surrounded by a bustling family, set up a tech-free family outing and invite them into your digital detox.
CREATE NEW HABITS
Scheduling a detox is always a good idea when our habits or behaviors are feeling unhealthy. After all, a detox is simply removing external influences or substances that are toxic to our bodies and minds. That said, the real change comes from our ongoing behavior after the detox.
Once you experience the restorative effects of your digital detox, take some time to set intentions and measurable goals.
Ask yourself the following questions: What is working most of the time? What isn’t? What can you do differently to stay connected to yourself on a daily basis and sustain healthy habits around technology? How can you replace old habits that no longer serve you with new, healthier habits?
Tackling these questions is a great way to start rewiring your pathways. And remember that media, much like food, is a crucial part of your diet; you are what you read, swipe, see, and hear. Choose wisely.
Edited by Alison Baenen