Technology is amazing. It seems like just a few years ago, the current innovations felt like some sci-fi predictions that would take decades to arrive. Yet, here we are, able to access all sorts of remarkable technologies. We are now more connected, informed, and entertained than ever before.
Sure, technology allows us to do many things (such as me writing this article and you reading it). But we also need to talk about the adverse effects of spending too much time in the digital world.
What Does Digital Detox Mean?
A digital detox is exactly as it sounds:
Spending some time away from technology, such as smartphones, TVs, computers, tablets, and such. Doing so is seen as an excellent way to detach from the digital world and give ourselves a break from all of the stimulation.
Recently, people have also started using a term called dopamine detox. The idea is to take a break from all sorts of dopamine-spiking activities, including the endless entertainment of the digital world. Spending less time on the computer or phone is said to provide much-needed rest for the brain and improve our ability to find pleasure in little things.
Why Would Anyone Consider a Digital Detox?
Depending on who you are, the idea of a digital detox might sound anywhere from perfectly acceptable to absolutely ludicrous. But, no matter where you stand on the issue, you should consider the occasional detox for three solid reasons:
1. Technology Can Cause Stress
While it’s difficult to imagine spending a day away from your favorite device, data shows that technology can have adverse health effects. For example, in one annual survey, nearly one-fifth of all Americans claimed that technology is a significant source of stress in their life (1).
Stress will vary from person to person, but the constant need to stay up to date with emails, notifications, and other similar things can lead to feelings of overwhelm (2).
2. Technology Prevents Us From Spending Time In The Real World
Many people find themselves jumping from one device to the next, never spending much time in the real world. They use the phone while commuting, work on a computer, and watch TV while at home.
The problem with this constant ‘connectedness’ is that we miss out on real and valuable events. Sure, we are up to date with our emails, social media notifications, and group chats. But we avoid social gatherings, our relationships deteriorate, and we eradicate the work/life balance (3).
3. Technology Might Impact Our Mental Health
While research is yet to unravel the true impact of technology, many experts believe that spending too much time in the digital world can harm our mental health. The human brain has evolved to interact with the real world, form bonds with other people, and enjoy the countless stimuli of nature.
Restricting ourselves to technology puts us in a box and prevents us from living happily, enjoying the little things, and maintaining relationships with friends and family. As a result, we are more likely to suffer from social isolation, anxiety, and depression (4).
How to Unplug, Feel Better, And Stop Being a Slave to Technology
1. Set Boundaries
One of the biggest issues people face today is the lack of boundaries regarding their use of technologies. A conscious first step to unplugging and feeling better is to set boundaries. For example:
- Not taking the phone or tablet with you to the bathroom
- Not opening up the laptop to check notifications or emails at night
- Limiting the amount of TV you watch in the evening
- Leaving your phone in the locker room while exercising
2. Create a Schedule
Creating a schedule is more challenging, but it can also be a fantastic way to limit your use of technologies. For example:
- No use of any technologies before 8:30 AM
- A break from your devices from 12:30 to 1:30 at noon (lunch break)
- All technology off-limits after 8 PM
3. Introduce More Activities That Don’t Require Technology
The third good way to unplug from the digital world and not feel deprived is to replace instead of eliminating. For example:
- Have a workout during your lunch break
- Meditate, stretch, and write your daily to-do list in the morning
- Go for a walk in the evening
- Gather the family for meals
- Read more books
- Take trips over the weekend
- Take up a hobby
The truth is, life can be incredibly fulfilling even without technology. But we have to make conscious decisions and seek ways to entertain ourselves without relying on technology.