Digital Detox: Are you a slave to your smartphone?Wednesday 05 September 2018 by Kayleigh Little It’s no secret that today’s society is more connected to the world than ever before – on average, adults in the UK spend 25 hours a week online which can have surprisingly detrimental effects on both our physical and mental health. It’s time to divorce your devices and begin a digital detox, just like 15 million other people in the UK. Don’t know where to start? We can help.
Screens are everywhere in our day-to-day lives - from TVs to sat navs, and of course not to mention our trusty little smartphones we carry literally everywhere with us. But consistently staring at a screen all day, whether you’re doing it consciously or not, can cause an unhealthy obsession with social media and result in negative psychological, social and cultural impacts. We don’t just mean the achy fingers you get from endless scrolling, but you can also cause minor damage such as headaches, blurred vision, neck pain and shoulder pain. Interestingly, one study found that spending more than four hours a day in front of a screen more than doubles your likelihood of developing heart disease due to the lack of exercise from not moving around. Emotional well-being also takes a massive hit as unrealistic images on social media can dampen our self-confidence and hinder our social skills. All this time we spend looking at these networks in turn causes a lack of sleep which can then lead to even more health problems (find out what they are and how to prevent them in our previous blog post here).
So, as if that wasn’t enough reason to persuade you to ditch the digital, we’ve also got some handy tips and tricks to help you along the way…
1. Change one habit at a time.
Jumping straight into a digital detox can be quite challenging, especially for people who spend hours in front of screens every day. A great recommendation to start you off right is to focus on just changing one habit at a time, for example banning your smartphone from the bedroom after 7pm or only checking your emails once every two hours. You’ll be healthier in no time.
2. Encourage someone to detox with you.
Trying to stick to a detox on your own can be tricky – find yourself a digital detox buddy, perhaps a colleague or close friend, and work on cutting down your screen time together. There’s a multitude of other things you could do instead of being sat in front of a screen, go on brisk strolls with your buddy at lunch time or take up a new exercise class together. The options are endless!
3. Give yourself an allowance.
For those who didn’t hear it the first time, jumping straight into a digital detox can be quite challenging! Establish with yourself a maximum daily time allowance for each of your devices, perhaps two hours a day for TV and three hours a day for endless smartphone scrolling. Work on lowering these hours each week and eventually it’ll get easier to stick to.
4. Invest in a good book.
Books are a superb way to entice yourself away from your screen, especially a good one. Invest in a book and spend a couple of hours a day reading instead of texting and you’ll quickly notice a difference in your emotional well-being – and less reliance on screens for entertainment
5. Disable push notifications.
Disable notifications for apps you use the most, such as Facebook or Instagram. If you’re not getting notifications constantly then you’ll be less tempted to keep picking up your device. If you’re struggling, try turning off alerts for a different app each week and ease yourself into it.
6. Try phone stacking if you’re not the only sufferer.
If you’re sat with family watching a film or out for dinner with friends, get everyone to stack their phones together and the first person to cave and reach for theirs will have to carry out a forfeit, maybe cooking for everyone or having to do the washing up. This turns into a game which, if you let it, can go on for hours; you’ll be unconsciously detoxing as you strive to become the winner!
7. Store devices somewhere else overnight.
It’s massively important that we get enough sleep each night to help our bodies reenergise and ensure we’re ready for the next day ahead. Scrolling through your phone before bed time can stop you getting enough sleep and can also make it harder for you to drift off. Instead, leave your phone in a separate room overnight to stop the temptation of reaching for it.
8. Don’t set unachievable targets!
Everyone’s detox experience is completely different because some people will struggle to cut the cord more than others. Don’t start off by setting targets you know you’ll find difficult to stick to, alternatively, set attainable targets and gradually build them up as your journey becomes easier.
9. Switch off broadband and Wi-Fi routers at certain times.
Turn your routers off at allocated time periods, perhaps from 8pm until 9am, and it’ll make it harder for you to quickly check your phone. Sometimes the hassle of turning the router back on and waiting for it to load just isn’t worth it…
10. Lock it away.
Still finding the detox difficult? Lock your phone away into a box or drawer for a couple of hours at a time each day and give a (trustworthy) friend or family member the key. It’ll be practically impossible for you to reach for your phone as often as you do and you’ll be forced to find something else to occupy yourself with – your health will thank you.