Here’s a fun fact for you: the word “digital detox” appears in the dictionary. It’s defined as “a period of time in which a person refrains from using electronic devices, such as smartphones or computers, as an opportunity to reduce stress, or focus on social interaction in the physical world.” It may sound impossible to refrain from using our phones, but according to experts, the act of disconnecting is linked to a healthier, happier life.
Dr. Mark Hyman, the Director of Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, appears to be in support of taking a digital detox since he considers our incessant need to check email, Facebook, and Instagram a problem. “The constant checking of our various accounts is not only making people feel worse, it’s also affecting our long-term concentration, job performance, and ability to be present,” Dr. Hyman stated on a recent episode of his podcast. “It’s the cognitive equivalent of junk food.”
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In the early days of Facebook, photos had to be taken with a digital camera, uploaded to a computer, and posted to albums. Now, the smartphone has become a sophisticated camera that is ready to document every component of life at any given moment. Way too much time is spent comparing one lifestyle, home, or physique to another, as well as trying to get approval, likes, and praise from total strangers. It seems that one of the best ways for someone to convince themselves that life is successful, is to illustrate it for others. Cal Newport, the author of the New York Times bestseller, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, joined Dr. Hyman on the same aforementioned podcast episode. Newport echoed these statements, saying: “Social media has been designed to be addictive, and how the use of social approval indicators (think ‘Like’ button) are created to hijack our psychological insecurities, and keep us obsessively clicking away and checking in on our latest notifications.”
There are ways to take a break from the addictive smartphone, and ease into a calmer, low-stress way of spending free time.
How to Take a Digital Detox
First Things First, Ask Yourself "Why?"
Society has replaced boredom with smartphones, when in reality sitting in stillness and letting the mind wander is one of the best ways to spend any amount of free time. Living in a world that believes being busy is a form of success is why most people reach for their smartphones during their downtime. Figuring out why you’re always checking your social media platforms, and how often, is the first question to ask yourself.
Set Screen Time Limits
Most smartphones have the option to check screen time and phone usage. First, check how much time is spent on your phone, and then check how much time is spent solely on social media platforms. Then, set a time limit.
Remove What Doesn't Bring Value
With hundreds of apps available for free, or even a small monthly fee, how many actually support a healthy lifestyle? How many of the apps currently on your home screen bring value to your life? Does checking social media 10 times every hour bring any sort of value to the lifestyle you’re trying to achieve? If the answer is no, remove it. Remove what no longer serves you or brings any benefit to your lifestyle.
Lastly, Take a Break
… whether it be for 24 hours, seven days, or an entire month. Remove the time-consuming apps. You can always get them back, but perhaps removing them temporarily will bring awareness to how serious social media and digital addiction is.