Time for a digital detox? From computers and smartphones to TVs and tablets, it seems our lives revolve around screens. We wake up to them, we trust and rely on them, and we carry them in our pockets all day.
It might not surprise you to learn that the average Brit checks their phone 200 times a day, or that 1 in 4 people admit they spend more time online than they do asleep, that's a lot of tech intake!
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Yes, technology is incredibly useful for work, education, staying connected and so much more, but what happens when it begins to disrupt our everyday lives, or even worse, it becomes an addiction? Time to take a break.
It's not easy to break a habit, but if you want to start valuing your time and be more productive in 2017, a simple digital detox might be just the ticket.
What are the benefits of a digital detox?
A digital detox can work wonders for our mental health and wellbeing.
Shutting off from technology can improve sleep and concentration, reduce stress, and increase our chances of happiness.
A digital detox can help depression
UK psychologists have found a strong link between intense internet use and depression. In a recent BBC study found that 1.2% of 1,319 people were 'internet addicts' and were found to be suffering from depression.
Three-quarters of UK internet users said it is important to their daily lives and 59% said they are “hooked” on the device they use to connect with others.
Swapping time spent online for socialising face-to-face can really help with those suffering from depression and improve your relationships with your friends and family.
A digital detox may help prevent eating disorders
Spending all that time on social media, looking at others' 'perfect' lives can really take its toll.
One study found that women who spend long periods of time on social networks like Facebook were found to have a higher number of 'appearance-focused behaviour' e.g. anorexia and body conscious issues.
Instead of wasting your time comparing yourself to others, spend time with your real friends offline who appreciate you for who you are.
A digital detox can help reduce stress & anxiety
Do you check your phone within the first five minutes or even the first five seconds of waking up? Evidence tends to suggest that 80% of people do. By reducing our reliance on technology, we can live a calmer life and concentrate more on what's going on around us.
Turning off technology can help prevent insomnia
73% of Brits say they'd struggle to go a day without checking their phone or computer but actually, it makes sense to turn it off, especially at bedtime. Try and unplug and wind down a couple of hours before you plan to go to sleep to help your brain relax and help you get a better night's sleep.
How to make your digital detox a sure success
Start small & commit to one change
Similar to weight loss, a lot of us (myself included) set unrealistic goals and it often becomes so overwhelming that we set ourselves up for failure.
Instead, start with one small habit like banning all devices at dinner or turning your phone off before bed time.
Find a detox buddy
Things are always easier when you team up with someone else. This way, you can gain a level of support where you can discuss your progress, encourage each other and be honest with each other.
Leave your gadgets at home
Are you that rude person that answers a call in the line at the supermarket? Maybe you can’t resist checking a text at the cinema?
Try going out without your headphones, phone or any other gadgets every now and again, especially on short journeys where these gadgets aren’t necessary. You might surprise yourself at how quickly you lose your reliance for these items.
Get some shut eye with a digital detox
Your bedroom is for sleeping, so don't turn it into a cinema, a shopping centre, a bank or a casino with your devices.
Turn everything off and leave any devices you own in another room at least two hours before heading off to bed to make sure you get a good night’s sleep.
Here are 20 ways to get a better night's sleep, you're welcome.
Set a timer
If you find you can’t live without your tech for long periods of time, allocate certain times where you don’t use it whatsoever.
Some people set themselves timers on their computers and make an effort to leave the office at lunch time or to turn off their phone while they eat.
Want to know more computer hacks? Check out 24 ways to save time on your computer.
Give others your undivided attention
When we're sat on our phones or laptops, we're not giving people our full attention. Have you ever been sat talking to someone while they're on their phone? How rude!
Now imagine how they feel when you do it to them. Make an effort to sit and talk to people and engage with what's happening around you.
Pick up a non-digital hobby
Have you ever neglected a hobby? Guilty! Why not pick it back up? Whether you fancy cooking, sewing or catching up with a book before bed, these hobbies will help you relax and will make you feel better for achieving something in your spare time.
Looking for some inspiration? Check out these productive things to do instead of sleeping in.
Organise your email & set up a priority only email account
If you're like me and you sign up for everything, prepare yourself. This might be a mammoth task, but it's worth it. Organise, label as junk and delete any emails in your inbox.
Then set up an emergency email account and give it a different notification sound on all your devices so that you know it takes priority. Anything else can usually wait.
Make plans with loved ones
Distract yourself by making plans with friends or family, even if it's just popping round to theirs for a cup of tea and leaving your phone at home, it will make you feel better and distract you from your digital detox.
Get your body moving
What’s great about a digital detox is that it gives you the chance to de-stress and pursue other meaningful activities.
Get moving outdoors or join a gym class like yoga or spinning to help get the blood flowing and keep your brain active on something positive.
If joining a gym seems like a big commitment, here's 30 ways to burn 100 calories to help get you motivated.
Also, check out these simple exercises you can do at home and in the office.
Buy an alarm clock
Sick of your phone going off and distracting you during the night? Don’t rely on your phone being on throughout the night, turn it off and set an alarm clock to wake you up instead.
Sell any unwanted gadgets
If you're thinking of cutting back on your phone or tablet obsession, why not sell your gadgets online? You can make a bit of cash and then declutter too, perfect.
I hope I've inspired you to take a break from technology and treat your mind to a digital detox. Have you got any advice of your own? Share below in the comments!