Most of us can’t imagine spending more than a few minutes away from our phones, a large majority of us rely on the Internet, email and computers for work, and these days even our books are stored and read on digital devices.
Last week, New York Magazine’s “The Cut” (humorously) titled a story “Losing Your Phone Is a Terror That Deserves It’ Own Horror Movie.” Of course the headline was a joke about modern times, but the reason it’s funny is because it’s kind of true.
Who hasn’t felt that pang of dread and panic when realizing that you, in fact, have no idea where your phone is?
Given how much we’ve grown to rely on technology, it probably seems like disconnecting is not only out of the question, but also just downright impossible.
However, implementing a so called “digital detox,” or a period of time where you refrain from using technology like smartphones, computers, tablets and similar digital media devices, doesn’t have to be a long-term ordeal.
Research on the topic is still relatively new, but several studies have shown that disconnecting, even for short periods of time on a day-to-day basis, may help to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and even increase your creativity.
In other words, putting down your phone, taking a break from Facebook and disconnecting from your email every once in a while is probably good for your health.
“In order to live a healthy life it is essential to unplug from technology from time to time and live life in the real world,” says Jim Hjort, LCSM, founder of RightLife Project, an organization that helps people cultivate wellbeing in all areas of their lives. “Our lives revolve around social media, games and staying plugged into our email. Stress levels, depression levels and anxiety have increased because we don’t want to miss out on updates, emails and television.”
Whether you want to learn how to reduce your use of digital media on a regular basis or you’re feeling like you need a more long-term detox from the digital world, you can use the following tips and tricks to help implement a plan that will help you successfully find a healthy balance between screen time and your life in the real world.
Use Online Tools
It might seem counterintuitive to use technology as a tool for disconnecting, but you can actually use digital programs to make your time spent disconnected non-negotiable. For example, Cold Turkey allows users to block certain websites or programs that they find distracting for specific periods of times. According to the program’s creator Felix Belzile, many students use it as a helpful study tool, but it can also be used, for example, to turn off your email while on vacation.
Schedule Your Screen Time
Both Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, professor at California State University, Channel Islands and founder of Get Kids Internet Safe, and Hjort recommend that you schedule specific times for disconnecting, as well as for catching up on digital media. “Set aside specific times in the day to read through social media updates instead of checking it all day long,” Hjort said. “Keep true office hours and stop checking your email all evening and weekend long.”