Are you reading this on your smartphone? Or is it within reach as your eyes move over the computer screen? It takes nothing more than a quick glance around any populated coffee shop, office, or park to see how media frenzied our world has become. From smartphones that badger us with a steady stream of notifications to robotically checking our email every few minutes and scrolling through hypnotic Instagram feeds, we’re flooded.
The issue? Technology dependence has become the new norm. With various studies suggesting how this dependence is linked to myriad negative outcomes (such as insomnia, reduced empathy, heightened anxiety, and struggling relationships), the call for a “break” has become increasingly popular.
We’ve all sat around with our girlfriends and chatted about the latest and greatest detoxes. From fruit fasting to charcoal elixirs, any bodily ailment seems to have a fix. Many of us, though, need the type of detox that goes beyond fruits and veggies (though we love those too!) to shift our relationship with this hectic digital age and cleanse the soul a bit.
So, what exactly does it mean to embark on a digital detox? Well, it’s essentially an escape. Whether it takes the form of a heart-opening, tech-free weekend at Camp Grounded or simply an easy day at home with your phone hiding in a desk drawer, it’s a chance to refrain from using electronic devices and disconnect from the digital chaos.
A detox offers an opportunity to reduce stress and re-center yourself in the present moment. One study has even taken the benefits a step further to demonstrate how parting from our beloved devices can improve posture in a way that opens our chakras to greater energy, deepen friendships with meaningful conversations, encourage childlike creativity and spontaneity, strengthen short- and long-term memory, and enhance the restfulness of sleep.
Yeah, it’s that good.
The key factor behind many individuals’ decision to detox is their diminished presence. Instead of finding joy in the passing moment, our thoughts race to posting pictures, perfecting status updates, and answering texts and emails the moment we receive them. The question then becomes, “Is this good for us, and how can we reset ourselves?”
Enter the digital detox.
This can be done anywhere, any time, and for any length of time. If you’re looking for a true physical escape, perhaps one of Digital Detox’s getaways is just what you need. But if a less extreme option—one that you can commit to this weekend—is more your style, here are a few tips to help us find the middle ground we’re all searching for.
Disable push notifications. Instead of hopping on each social media platform as soon as you see the banner on your phone (and watching a half hour fly by), create scheduled blocks of time to check each app. Think of this as taking some of the power back by deciding when and where to invest your energy.
Buffer your bedtime. Turn your devices off an hour before hitting the sheets, and refrain from checking for the latest posts until 30 minutes after you wake up. The former rests on the concept of proper sleep hygiene and eliminating the negative effects of blue light. This light has been shown to suppress melatonin levels in the body, contributing to greater feelings of restlessness. Instead, opt for reading, candlelit journaling, or restorative yoga in your aromatherapy-filled abode.
Each morning, remind yourself that you are setting the tone for how the rest of your day goes. In a matter of minutes, your subconscious has decided your mood and started directing your flow. Instead of hopping onto the most tempting app, take some time to decide what you want to feel and how you would like your day to look. Stretch, turn on your happy music, drink a tall glass of water, and jot down a quick gratitude list. See what happens.
Build your tolerance. If disconnecting for an entire day sounds impossible, start with an easy 30 minutes. Establish boundaries and leave your phone out of the mix when it’s simply adding unnecessary distraction. Leave it in another room when you’re eating with loved ones, listening to your partner debrief you on their “you-wouldn’t-believe” type of day, or curling up with Brené Brown’s latest book and your favorite glass of red.
When you’ve mastered 30 minutes, set your next intention to a 45-minute break. Pretty soon you may just find yourself blocking off an entire weekend for your next technology-free retreat.
In a world that expects us to be constantly reaching for our phones, be the one who pulls her hand back to her heart.