Picture this. You’re at a restaurant with friends, you’re excited to see them and catch up as it’s been a while. You sit down, order and start chatting. Suddenly your phone pings. You check it, answer the message and go back to talking to your friends. You then notice a friend staring at her screen. And another. And another. You notice that while ‘catching up’ everyone is looking at their phones. It could be anything from work emails, to Instagram story replies, to a news bulletin. However, the truth of it is, whatever the notification – it can wait, the problem? We think it can’t. Why? Because we’re addicted to our mobile devices.
On average, every person in the US uses their phone for over 3 hours a day. This has also resulted in an ever growing trend regarding the effects of mobile devices on our mental health. There is everything from TV shows and books to apps and brand new industries that are trying to help us cut out, limit or reduce the amount of time we spend staring at our screens. Call them whatever you like. But the bottom line? They all address the same issue. The need to help us help ourselves.
We seem to have no limits on the amount of technology that consumes our lives. However, we can start putting limits on this. We can have control over our device use and habits. How? Read on to find out…
How does a digital detox help?
A digital detox is a period of time where one refrains from using digital devices such as phones, tablets and computers. By ‘detoxing’ from these devices, you are able to focus on real interactions without any distractions.
You may want to have a digital detox for a number of reasons, as its benefits are endless. Maybe you want to live ‘real life’ rather than being ‘online’ all the time? Maybe you want to remove negativity from social media from your life? Or maybe you’re starting to feel a bit addicted to your devices and you feel like you could do with a break.
Whatever the reason, a digital detox will help you feel more in control of your time, life and surroundings. You’ll be able to remove the ‘attachment’ that a lot of us have become accustomed to and be more engaged with what’s really happening around you. Additionally, a digital detox has a positive impact on your brain.
What really happens to your brain during a digital detox?
When we’re constantly using digital devices, it’s difficult to live in the present moment. We tend to let everyday life pass us by without even realising it. When was the last time you noticed the sound of the birds chirping while walking to work? :Probably a long time ago as you were too busy checking your phone the whole way.
Additionally, we seem to have forgotten that hashtags and viral videos are not real forms of communication. Real forms of communication are sharing your perspectives with someone, deep conversations and communication through face to face interactions. However, while we’re constantly consumed by our digital devices, this rarely happens.
So what would happen if you ‘unplugged’ from your devices for a while? Well, as research has shown, you’ll likely find yourself doing real things you really like to do. Going to the gym, running errands, spending time with friends and family. You’ll notice that you’ll have time to refresh relationships, improve your career, make changes in your life for the better and try other hobbies that you rarely get round to because of your Netflix and Instagram obsession.
You’ll also benefit from memory enhancement as you’ll be much more present in live interactions. Not to mention that you’ll reduce your anxiety. We’ve all experienced that tech-driven anxiety and FOMO due to what we see online which isn’t healthy and can often lead to unnecessary stress.
By unplugging, your brain is able to put things into perspective and focus on what’s really important. There are countless cases and studies that demonstrate nothing but positives when it comes to taking a tech break. Unplug for a while and start seeing positive changes in your life – by unplugging you’ll be able to recharge your brain.
How do you detox your phone?
If you feel it’s time to take back control of the way you spend your time, look no further! In 5 easy steps, we’ll have you detoxing from your phone.
1.Turn off notifications
First things first, don’t give yourself a reason to constantly check your phone. The easiest way to start this process is by turning off unnecessary notification alerts. Go to your settings and switch off notifications for apps and sites that distract you.
2. Block apps and sites
Whether it’s reading your newsfeed on Facebook or watching stories on Instagram, a true phone detox involves removing these time wasting apps and sites from your device. It’s time to block them. Well, at least for a little while. Go through your mobile and your website search history and see which sites you think waste too much of your time. Once you have an idea, add them to your BlockSite block list.
With BlockSite you can remove all distracting websites and apps from your life by blocking them when you need to detox or just stay focused. You can even set a timer to make sure you keep on track throughout the day, and have break time where you can check out these sites.
3. Schedule your day
By scheduling your day and aiming to get certain tasks done, you’ll be able to make sure you ‘detox’ from your tech devices much more easily. Make a plan from morning to night of things you need to get done and the timings for them. That way you won’t have time to waste checking your phone as you’ll be on a strict schedule.
Through scheduling your day, you’ll create a sense of mindfulness and find that you have a lot of extra time throughout the day when you aren’t browsing the web. Reward yourself, and your schedule for being less ‘digitally-dependent’ with something ‘offline,’ you could try cooking a meal, reading a book or going for a run- you’ve earned it!
4. Go solo screen
We’ve all done the ‘multiscreen’ thing. Sat on the sofa, in front of the TV with our phones in our hands looking at posts online. However, it’s time to be mindful of this. Watching a good movie? Great, enjoy it and put your phone away. It’s no fun half watching something and being distracted. Give your undivided attention to one thing at a time and stop being dependent on your devices – we promise you’ll reap the benefits!
5. Develop healthy habits
A phone detox is mainly about learning to use your phone only when you really need to rather than being totally dependent on it 24/7. By being aware of your digital usage, you can start developing healthy digital habits and just general, healthy habits.
Why not use this time to be super productive offline? For example, if you’ve finished your day’s work and are used to checking your phone on your commute home, find a good book to read instead and start your post-work unwind early on in the evening.
How do you detox from social media?
Social media has become a central part of our everyday lives. Whether we’re mindlessly watching stories on Instagram or checking our Facebook feeds – we’re spending too much time on these sites and our productivity is paying the price.
Too much time spent on social media sites can prevent us from focusing on the things that really matter such as our relationships, careers and goals. Therefore, if you find yourself constantly checking your social profiles, it may be time to detox from social media.
How? Don’t worry – we’ve got a few simple steps that will get you started.
1. Give your tech devices a bedtime.
Yes, you read that right. Late night activity on your mobile device can have a negative effect on your sleeping patterns. Set a time that you are committed to putting your phone away for the night. This should be at least one hour before your own bedtime. This will also give you an opportunity to catch up on some reading or get an extra hour’s sleep, and who wouldn’t want that?!
2. Morning rituals
Avoid using your tech devices first thing in the morning by using a real alarm clock instead of the one on your mobile. This way, you won’t check your phone, or social media profiles first thing in the morning, instead you’ll start your day being more mindful of your surroundings. Instead of scrolling first thing, go outside and watch the sunrise, go for a run or just enjoy a hot cup of coffee.
3. Block your social media apps.
We’ve already mentioned it, but we think it’s important to mention it again as it can be really daunting giving up social media and going ‘cold turkey’ so it’s important you know that you don’t have to do it alone.
Improve your productivity and give yourself an easier time when detoxing from social media by blocking the apps with BlockSite. This will also help you break the cycle of aimless scrolling like when you’re waiting in line for an appointment or taking a break from work – there’s other things to do, not just checking what everyone else is doing 😉
4. Replace social media with activities
It’s been reported that the average internet user spends approximately 2 hours 24 minutes on social media sites alone EVERY DAY. Imagine all the new activities you could take up in that time?!
Enjoy sports? Take up a new gym class. Want to learn to play an instrument? You can with the extra time! Start learning to enjoy life offline, especially if you spend most of your day at work in front of computers and need to reduce your screen time.
5. Track your progress
Most of our mobile devices, especially iPhone and Android devices now track the time we spend looking at our screens. You’ll often get a notification of how much time you’ve spent on your device at the end of each week. Once you’ve implemented your digital detox, check the statistics and recognise the progress you’ve made. This will help motivate you to carry on with your detox and keep you focused on the removal of social media from your life.
Additionally, BlockSite Unlimited users also have access to useful insights that can tell you more about your browsing trends and the amount of time BlockSite has helped you save by blocking distracting apps and sites. For more information click here.
What is too much phone use?
Now that we understand how to digital detox our phones and from social media, the question is – how much time is too much to be spending on our phones? Turns out, there’s no simple answer.
A smartphone addiction isn’t exactly a medical diagnosis. Although we know it can cause problems such as anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation and eye issues – it’s still not a classified addiction.
At this stage, research indicates that there are no specific time-limit recommendations, though some researchers are working on a smartphone addiction scale; one was proposed in a 2013 study in the journal PLOS One. one simple guideline they found was that problematic smartphone use negatively interferes with your life.
Some research suggests Facebook, Instagram, and even online gaming make us feel more isolated and less connected. The more we try to fill that hole by tapping away at our phones, the more we crave social interaction.
One way to assess whether you’re ‘addicted’ to your smartphone is to note how you feel when you’re cut off from it. For example, during a digital detox. Are you irritable or anxious? Do you feel isolated from friends or unsafe? Do you have trouble concentrating on work, school, or other important responsibilities?
While smartphones may not be truly addictive in a medical sense, learning how to use them in a more mindful, healthy manner won’t hurt.
Knowing how much time you spend using these devices is the first step to identifying whether or not you have a problem. Block distracting sites or track your usage to start working this out and then go from there. A digital detox is the first step in freeing yourself from any form of addiction and becoming more mindful of your ways.