This week we conclude our Digital Wellness series with the ultimate challenge: starting (and completing!) a digital detox.
What is a digital detox?
The goal of a digital detox is to establish protected time without the use of electronic devices such as smartphones and computers. It is typically viewed as an opportunity to rethink our relationship with technology, reduce stress and prioritize social interactions off the screen.
as the Cleveland Clinic writes, “If you have any of the following experiences through the use of electronic media, it is a sign that you may need to disconnect:
Increased irritability, frustration or anger.
Loss of sleep or interrupted sleep.
Feeling obligated to consume, react, react or check in.”
While taking a break from social media is the most popular form of digital detox, other activities may include:
A digital detox can include all digital activities/tools at once, or can target a specific aspect based on your needs and priorities. Longer detoxes can last a month or a season, while more accessible detoxes last an average of 7, 10 or 15 days.
How do you detox digitally?
The first step in starting a digital detox is to decide what is off limits and for how long. If you know you get better results in company, consider starting a digital detox with a colleague or friend. You could also consider a team-wide challenge of a certain number of days. Or continue your experience with the help of Digital Detoxa platform that organizes summer camps for adults, as well as ‘unplugged nights’ and mystery trips, which provide immersive device-less experiences to ‘Disconnect to reconnect®; with the people around you!
If your primary concern is smartphone use, award-winning journalist Catherine Price has designed a practical plan to help you break up — and then make amends — with your phone. As she explains, “the goal isn’t to get rid of your phone; it’s to build a long-term relationship that feels right.” As the author of the book How do you break up with your phoneCatherine also manages digital resources for people who want to detox from screens for a while.
The 3 Day Phone Break Challenge is a series of exercises designed to help you build a new relationship with your phone. If you want to achieve greater screen/life balance, here’s: survival kit includes a device-free dinner guide, a 24-hour digital detox preparation guide, and a custom-designed lock screen image for your phone.
To disconnect apps, AppDetox helps you set rules to detox from heavy smartphone use and/or stop procrastination by limiting app use. You could also consider Turn aroundd, a research-based app that hides social media apps and games for a period of time, or quality timewhich provides a unique and in-depth analysis of your smartphone activities by tracking total usage, screen unlocks and individual app usage with hourly, daily and weekly summary reports.
If you want to achieve more mindfulness, “one second” uses Shortcuts Automation to enable a deep breathing animation when you open one of the configured apps (e.g. Instagram, Twitter, YouTube.) This breaks unconscious social media habits and helps you become more aware of what else automated behavior could become.
From digital detox to digital minimalism
At the end of your detox, you may want to rethink your relationship with technology and learn new daily habits. Cal Newport, a computer science professor and celebrated author who writes at the intersection of digital technology and culture, coined the term “digital minimalism” to describe this balanced relationship with technology.
he defines digital minimalism as “a philosophy that helps you ask yourself which digital communication tools (and behaviors around these tools) add the most value to your life. It is motivated by the belief that deliberately and aggressively cleaning up low-value digital noise and optimizing your use of the tools that really matter can significantly improve your life.”
The goal is to remove everything that doesn’t add value to your day and identify and invest in the things that do.
Consider what worked and what felt good about your detox, then come up with realistic and feasible ways to bring more of that experience into your daily life. Maybe you decide to remove all electronics from your bedroom, or set a protected time away from technology every day. Maybe you enable support for a new app and keep your smartphone usage below a certain number of hours/week. Or maybe you organize annual/semi-regular full digital detoxes, and spend the rest of your time connected, but more aware of the influence of technology on your daily life. Digital minimalism isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and that’s the real benefit: you can find what works for you and continue to adapt along the way. Good luck!
- Digital Minimalism: How To Simplify Your Online Life (Medium)
- How do you break up with your phone (Extract)
- Digital Minimalism 101: How To Clear Out Your Digital Clutter And Find Focus And Calm In 30 Days (rescue time)
- Always on your phone? Try these 7 tips for a digital detox at home (HarpersBazaar)