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21st January 2020 | 4 min read
2019 is over, and a new year has begun, bringing with it a whole host of New Year’s resolutions and goals. Aside from spending more time in the gym, doing Dry January and trying to eat more healthily, an increasingly popular option is to undergo a digital detox, with the aim of spending less time on social media and more time in the real world.
So, what exactly is a digital detox and how does it work? In this article, we explain how to do a digital detox, and the benefits this could have for our health and mind.
With the rise of the Internet and social media giants such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter, it’s no wonder that we are spending more and more time glued to a screen. We can easily spend a whole day online without realising, consuming video content on the commute to work, answering emails all day, checking Instagram on the way home, and finishing the evening by replying to Tweets and Facebook messages. Sometimes our jobs can also make it hard to stay off the screens.
So, when you do a digital detox, you try to avoid using any form of tech, including phones, laptops, computers, and tablets. If you want to extend this to include a social media detox, you can either temporarily deactivate your social media accounts, or remove all social media apps from your phone for a certain period of time.
There’s no doubt that social media has had a huge impact on society, and the way we communicate. There are obvious benefits to social media; for example, we can connect with old friends, share photos and memories with loved ones, and chat at any time of day. However, spending too much time online can be addictive and may ultimately have a detrimental effect on our health.
The side-effects of spending too much time scrolling through social media, as well as answering emails, browsing the Internet and playing on apps can impact our ability to concentrate, disturb sleep patterns and can even cause depression. Further, the more time we spend online, the more we are likely to compare ourselves to others, which can have a negative effect on our self-esteem, our mood, and our mental health. There is even an official term for this now: Social Media Anxiety Disorder.
The benefits of a digital detox are therefore numerous. Staying off social media for a certain length of time has been proven to improve quality of sleep, boost concentration, improve mood and most importantly, strengthen our mental health.
By deleting your social media apps, you will find you have much more time on your hands for catching up with friends you haven’t seen in a while, exercising, making time for your family, taking up an old hobby, or starting a new project. You are likely to feel happier, more positive and a lot more free.
Firstly, don’t set your sights too high. If the prospect of locking your phone away for a whole week or month terrifies you, you probably need to start out small and work your way up. To begin with, try reducing your weekly screen time, or social media time, by a certain amount and measure your progress.
To help you stay on track, you can use a timer feature on your apps, or install blocking software on your browsers to limit your social media use per day. You could also ask a friend to change your account passwords so you have no way to log in.
We tend to reach for our phones automatically without noticing we are doing so; whether that’s eating, on the bus, or waiting for a friend. When you do your digital detox, try to do something else instead of picking up your phone. Start a new book on your commute, phone a relative for a chat the next time you wait for a friend, and simply try to focus on the taste of your food when you are having a meal. When you eventually decide to rejoin the online world, you may even find that you are happier without social media!
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