How many times a day do you check your phone? Would you feel anxious if you couldn't find your phone, or it wasn't working temporarily? How do you feel after spending time scrolling on social media? Do you ever have trouble concentrating on one thing without checking your phone? Are you afraid you'll miss out on something if you don't keep checking your device? How about that bedtime scrolling habit? Do you find it hard to be fully present with others without checking your phone?
As with any aspect of our lives, it's good to do a little compassionate check in with ourselves around the habits that are serving or depleting our health and happiness and ask if we would benefit from a few simple sustainable strategies to increase our feelings of wellbeing by trying out a few digital detox ideas.
Whilst 2020 was the year that technology allowed us to continue connecting, working, learning and socialising safely, there's no doubt that excessive screen time and time spent scrolling has a detrimental affect on our health. Research has shown that excessive technology has been linked to increased stress levels, anxiety, sleep problems and depression. There's even been a connection made between nighttime tech use and increased body mass index! All of these wreak havoc on our hormonal balance, so, if, like me, you're navigating menopause, it's really worth looking at weaving in healthier boundaries in this area. In addition, comparing our lives to others' social media highlight reels can leave us feeling 'not enough' as well as increasing the feeling that we're missing out
If you're experiencing any of these, firstly give yourself a big dose of compassion and kindness, and ask yourself if you could benefit from your own version of a digital detox, on your own terms. Even a few hours with your phone on silent in another room ( a strategy I use every day) can give your whole system a much needed break.
Read on for 7 practical tips to develop healthier boundaries around tech and your devices:
#1 TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS
When we see our phones light up with notifications, there is a huge temptation to check them. We often do this mindlessly, and then end up staying on our phone for a bit of time. Do not tempt yourself like this. Turn off non-urgent notifications to give yourself total control over when you are checking your phone. If you're able to, try a few hours on silent mode, or even airplane mode
#2 SET A DAILY SCREEN TIME MAXIMUM
Keep your habits in check by setting realistic goals for yourself. Especially if your work is screen-based, it is very important to ensure you are not spending extortionate amounts of time staring at a screen during the day. Manage this, and you will also find this is something you can reduce over the weeks as you gain independence from your devices.
#3 SET APP LIMITS
Cap the time that certain addictive apps eat into your day. Whether social media, gaming, or other, we all have certain apps that we find particularly difficult to get off of and that are guilty of rocketing our screen time. Allow yourself to enjoy a little time on them, but also be strict on yourself, and set yourself reasonable limits so that you are aware of your usage.
#4 PLAN SCREEN FREE ACTIVITIES
Often we turn to our screens when we are bored, as they are the quickest and easiest way to guarantee entertainment. But this instant gratification in the form of light relief from boredom may leave you feeling lethargic and unhappy, especially if you have spent most of your day on a screen already. Try planning activities that you and others can enjoy so that you don’t always have to resort to your screens. Try getting outside, and even venture out without your phone for a while - something I've been experimenting with on a few of my dog walks, and it feels very freeing.
#5 STOP SCREEN USE 1-2 HOURS BEFORE BED
Blue light keeps us awake, and messes with the bodies natural melatonin production, and so limiting your blue light exposure before bed will be beneficial for your sleep. Too much of it, and you may struggle to fall asleep. Left awake in bed, this could lead many of us to grab our phone. Getting proper quality sleep is a foolproof way to curb excess screen time, and improve every area of your health, hormonal balance, and overall wellbeing
#6 TAKE MEDIA BREAKS
Often our high screen time can be due to our obsession with checking for updates, whether from the news or social media. Give yourself a break from this once or twice a week, and on these days try not to go on the certain culprit sites or feeds. This will give you time to focus on your non-virtual relationships and feel more connected to others. It will also train you to live without having to regularly check your phone for updates.
#7 EVERY TIME YOU GO TO PICK UP YOUR PHONE, ASK YOURSELF 'WHY'?
The best way to break a habit is to interrogate it every time you are about to do it. Asking yourself why you need to go on your phone will make you aware of how often you are unconsciously picking it up. If you have a genuine answer, you can go on your phone guilt-free, knowing that you are having a more mindful experience.
Going device-free can be uncomfortable and stressful at times. You might feel annoyed, anxious, and even bored without your mobile phone and other tech tools. While it may be hard, it can also be a rewarding experience that will help you better understand your relationship with your devices and be more present and mindful in your other activities and experiences.
Which of these tips will you try? Have you found this helpful? I'd love to hear from you
I'm going to take a social media detox over the Easter holidays, so I'll check back in with you after the break and let you know how it's gone.
To finish, here's a beautiful passage of inspiration from one of my favourites, Nikki Banas (Walk the Earth Writer) May this inspire you to take some time to disconnect