It is important to recognize when you are in need of a digital detox, this means unplugging from devices for a period of time. This can often be very challenging as our lives have become increasingly reliant on our use of digital devices, social media, and the Internet. You can think of digital detox in the sense of allowing your body and mind the opportunity to reboot by taking a conscious break from the use of your devices and social media platforms.
DO YOU EVER CATCH YOURSELF MINDLESSLY SCROLLING THROUGH FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, OR TWITTER?
Your mind can transition into autopilot. So often throughout the day, the dependence we have with our devices and social media addictive behaviour can become over-stimulating for the mind. Overuse of technology can contribute to fatigue, increased distraction, apathy, and the feeling of numbing out. Giving yourself a break from the use of digital devices, or minimizing the use of them, will help to release stress that comes from the need to be constantly connected. It is reported that the average user spends 2 hours and 24 minutes a day on social media (1). You can monitor your own usage by viewing "your activity" on various platforms to figure out how much time you are spending online.
REASONS FOR DIGITAL DETOX
There are many reasons to take a digital detox. Here are a few to consider and then find what is reasonable for you.
• Technology can be stressful.
The constant need for connectivity can contribute to individuals' stress levels. The expectation to promptly reply to emails, texts, or messages can become very demanding and taxing.
• Digital devices can disrupt sleep patterns.
The use of digital devices prior to bedtime can impact sleep quality in adults and children. Blue light exposure from smartphones and computer screens, together with overstimulation from the use of tech, can make it difficult for the mind and body to settle into a deep sleep pattern. This overuse can often contribute to increased anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness.
• Increased exposure to harmful blue light rays.
Blue light rays emitted off of phone and computer screens can be harmful to our health. Over exposure to blue light, particularly at night, can impact sleep patterns. Blue light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, the hormone responsible for influencing circadian rhythms (2). Observe your use of screen time in the evenings, as this may be a significant contributing factor to disrupted sleep.
• Social media comparisons can impact individuals' mental health and ability to feel content.
We live in a day and age where we have the world at our fingertips. Social media curates a filtered view of reality and it is easy to get sucked into comparisons when viewing other's highlight reels online. It’s important to disconnect from social media from time to time, as part of taking care of your mental health. Constant comparisons can be detrimental to an individual’s self-esteem and self-worth.
SET LIMITATIONS FOR YOURSELF
It is important to set limitations for yourself when it comes to doing your own digital detox. Perhaps starting small will help you to introduce new habits into your daily life, for how you choose to interact with your devices. You may be required to use your phone and computer during the day for work or school. However, perhaps you can re-evaluate the time you spend on devices that is unnecessary. Reducing the amount of time you are spending on social media platforms may be a good place to start. Monitor your time and schedule breaks. Examine the amount of time you are currently spending online. Challenge yourself to take a 24-hour or 72-hour break from all social media. You may be surprised with how good it feels to unplug.