In our previous article, we highlighted the reasons why a digital detox might be beneficial for your wellbeing. In part 2, we now talk about how to best go about doing a digital detox.

Be Realistic

If you can go cold turkey and do a complete digital breakaway for a preset period of time, go for it!

Being completely disconnected can feel liberating and refreshing for some people, providing the opportunity for recalibration. For some however, completely giving up all forms of digital communication might well be too much too soon, especially if one does rely on staying connected for work, school, or other obligations. 

So, if a complete detox is too difficult, one can still do a digital detox that works for you. The key is to ensure that the plan is one that fits into your schedule and your life.

For example, if you need your devices during the day for your job, try doing a mini-detox at the end of the workday. Pick a time when you want to turn off your devices, and then focus on spending an evening completely free of things like social media, texting, online videos, and other electronic distractions. 

Be realistic!

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Set Limits

Even if you do not want to completely disconnect, setting some healthier boundaries between your devices and you can be helpful.

For example, you might want to use your phone to play your Spotify or Apple Music playlist while you are working out, but setting it to airplane mode will make sure that you aren’t distracted by phone calls, texts, other messages, or app notifications during your workout. 

Mindfully limiting the type and timing of connections you’ll attend to help to ensure that you can enjoy real-world activities without being intruded upon by unwanted digital diversions. 

Other suggested times when you might want to digitally switch off include:

  • mealtimes particularly when dining with other people
  • When waking up or before going to bed
  • When you are working on a project or hobby
  • When you are spending quality time with friends or family

Research suggests that limiting your social media use to approximately 30 minutes per day can significantly improve well-being, decreasing symptoms of loneliness and depression.

Remove Distractions

If you are the type who cannot resist checking your devices for updates, a helpful tip for your digital detox might be to turn off push notifications on your phone. Many social media apps including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and news websites send alerts every single time you get a message, mention, or new post which in turn prompts you to check.

Turn those notifications off!

Rather than being a slave to your devices and checking certain apps or websites every time a new story or post hits, set aside a specific time each day when you’ll check your messages or mentions. Then set aside a certain amount of time, around 20 or 30 minutes, to devote to catching up and sending responses. That way, you are checking for updates when you want to, not when you are prompted to by your device!

It might also be helpful to leave your phone behind for at least a brief time. Studies have found that the mere presence of a mobile device, even if you aren’t actively using it, lowers empathy levels and decreased conversation quality when interacting with other people, a phenomenon researchers have dubbed ‘the iPhone effect. Instead of paying attention to your physical companions, you are being distracted by digital content!

Make It Work for You

A digital detox can be whatever you want it to be and can take many forms. It isn’t a one size fits all approach.

Some ideas that you might consider trying:

  • A digital fast:Try giving up all digital devices for a short period of time, such as a day or up to a week
  • Recurrent digital abstinence: Pick one day of the week to go device-free
  • A specific detox: If one app, site, game, or digital tool is taking up too much of your time, focus on restricting your use of that problematic item
  • A social media detox: Focus on restricting or even completely eliminating your social media use for a specific period of time

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