Wondering what a Digital Detox is? Or thinking about trying a Digital Detox? We understand. In this age of hyper-connectivity, we all may benefit from making a conscious effort to keep our tech usage in check and limiting time on a screen. Who hasn’t, for example, guiltily stolen glances at their phone while in conversation with someone, or been up well past bedtime on an #insta-scrolling rampage obsessing over some stranger’s feed?
Tech gets the best of many of us and unfortunately, its shadowy impacts are now becoming apparent. Though social media is designed to help us connect, research shows a fervor for hitting refresh can have the exact opposite effect contributing to feelings of jealousy and disconnection. What’s more, a Swedish study found that young people who are on social media for several hours a day were at a higher risk for depression, stress and sleep disorders. Yikes!
We’ve long flirted with going on a tech cleanse, but how to do it when the internet is basically everywhere, and would the benefits really be worth it? We know that alone time can be beneficial and suspected this might be similar. So, when this story popped up on our Facebook feed, we were interested. For one week the writer successfully ditched Email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (gasp!). Read some of her insights (originally published on The Everygirl) below. Could we hope to achieve similar results? We also did a little research to see what the experts say.
Not having access to email is so much different than telling yourself not to check it. It’s like being forced to think about something else. And when you’re on a lake with your family, that usually means fishing, boating, and — dare I say it? — nothing.
The Science: When we’re less distracted, our minds truly function better. According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan, participants who walked in the woods after learning something new were more likely to retain it. Think of it like quiet time for your brain. After a nap, don’t you also feel refreshed?
Once my head was clear, it became much easier to see what was really important in my life. Ask me my priorities any day of the week and I’ll probably give you a list of work-related things. Not having technology though — and finally having the opportunity to think about something other than work — gave me the chance to prioritize ‘life’ things and not just ‘work’ things.
Expert View: “Life, at its best, is happening right in front of you,” says Joshua Becker, best-selling author and founder of Becoming Minimalist. “Our world may be changing. But the true nature of life is not. These experiences will never repeat themselves. These conversations are unfiltered and authentic. And the love is real. But if we are too busy staring down at our screen, we’re gonna miss all of it.”
I didn’t feel the pull of tech taking me out of conversations. Instead of cutting a convo short with my dad to aimlessly scroll, I talked to him on the dock for hours. And not once did I have the guilt of looking at my phone while pretending to listen to him. I don’t know when I started prioritizing our devices over the people I love, but it’s time I stop.
The Science: This study found that when people use cell phones they were more likely to be unkind to others and less likely to display “prosocial behavior,” (or as Time asked, “Is your cell phone making you a jerk?”).
At this point in my trip, my head was clear and I had realized I needed to prioritize myself and not just my job. So what was left to do? Truly relax for the first time in forever.
The Science: Researchers at Kansas State University found that time away from tech (especially communications from the workplace) is essential for fully recharging. Staying “on” at all hours not only increases stress but prevents the brain from relaxing and recouping for the next day.
Unless you’re uber-disciplined, the best way to truly ditch tech may be to place yourself away from temptation. Consider scheduling a trip where cell-service and internet are unavailable or a big no-no like here or here. Let the benefits you experience from going tech-free fuel your next digital detox closer to home.