If you’re trying to cut back on habits that might be making you unhappy and having an impact on your health, you might be considering a digital detox. Many of us spend more hours glued to our phones than we would really like to, making us more anxious, stressed and cut off. If you’re worried about how much time you spend looking at a screen instead of talking to your friends and family, here are some easy ways to get started on a digital detox.
The average person spends five years of their life looking at social media, which is enough time to climb Mount Everest 32 times or watch the entirety of The Simpsons 215 times. If you’d like to cut down on your screen time, then a detox can help break the habit.
- Make some lists. Make a list of all the devices you own. Include phones, tablets, e-readers that you can surf the internet on, laptops that you use for anything other than work, and any other smart device you own. You might be shocked by just how many you own, and how many devices you interact with on a day to day basis. Make a second list of all the things you enjoy doing but aren’t currently making time for. This might include things like reading, baking, or even just playing with the children. Compare your lists. How much time do you think you’re spending on all these devices? How many hours could you spend on the things that actually bring you joy if you weren’t staring at Facebook on your phone instead?
- Set an allowance. You don’t need to give up your devices entirely in order to disconnect and unplug. Aim to cut back instead of giving up. Set a maximum daily allowance for much time you can spend on your devices. Make sure the target is realistic. You can always drop the time allowed as you get used to using your devices less. If you restrict your time spent on these devices, you can claw back some more time to spend on some of those hobbies that you have been neglecting.
- Set small targets. If you aim too big too soon, you’re much more likely to fail. Start with small targets than you can tick off without too much trouble and work up. For example, you could start cutting back device usage by deciding certain times you’re aren’t allowed to use them. Set a curfew, and stop using devices by a certain time of night, which will help you sleep better. Decide not to use any devices when you’re watching TV with the family in the evenings, or when you’re at the dinner table. Once you’ve reached these targets, you can set more.
- Tackle one addiction at a time. If you’re most annoyed by phones at the dinner table tackle that first. Put a basket in the middle of the table for all the phones to go on at the start of the meal. The first person to reach for their phone has to do the washing up. If you’re sleeping badly, ban tech from the bedrooms. The blue light that your devices give off stimulates the brain, making it harder for you to fall asleep. By keeping the phones out of the bedroom you should find that you sleep a lot better. Target one bad habit, and stick to your solution for at least a week before you take on another.
- Get enough sleep. Turn off all your screens at least two hours before you head to bed, so your brain isn’t encouraged to stay awake. Instead, do something relaxing, like reading a book or taking a bath. Make your bedroom a tech-free zone. In fact, for the best sleep, your bedroom should be used for sleeping and sex only, so move your TV out of there too.
- Put your focus on others. When you’re talking to someone and they keep checking their phone, how do you feel? Do you think they’re being rude, or worry that you must be boring them? Chances are, other people, feel this way too when you give your phone your attention instead of them. When you’re tempted to reach for a device in a social situation, think about this feeling. Knowing people might be thinking poorly of you is sure to put you off and put the phone down. If you can’t help being pulled to your phone, turn off your notifications. If you’re not hearing or seeing any alerts, you can check for messages or other updates when you’re ready, and not be distracted by seeing you have unread notifications.