Whenever we have a spare minute, most of us will reach to our phones to fill a void of time. Overtime this becomes an automatic response, we don’t tend to ask ourselves “what should I do now” because our hands are already reaching to our phones and social media to entertain ourselves. This might not be the case for everyone, but more often than not we are becoming slaves to social media, addicted to our phones and the feeling of being reliant on them to fuel a sense of purpose.
Increasingly, social media and too much time spent on technology are contributing factors to a significant rise in anxiety and other mental health issues, and if this is the case, there are 10 steps we can take for a digital detox.
What is a digital detox?
A digital detox is the idea of easing ourselves away from our phones (specifically social media), and seeing how the effects of this detox changes our mental wellbeing. It’s never an easy thing to do, but lessoning anxiety in our communities is vital to making it a vibrant and happy place to be.
Often, we become so used to being on our phones that we don’t know what to do with ourselves when we’re not on them. By reducing our time spent on social media, we have more time for other activities and hobbies.
Steps to a digital detox:
Unfollow accounts which don’t make you feel happy or inspired. When you’re going through your social media feed, are there pictures which make you feel bad about yourself, or you just don’t care for them? Unfollow that account, and any others which don’t add a sense of happiness or inspiration, and create a happy space in your social media feed.
Turn off notifications for social media apps so your phone isn't constantly buzzing. Do you really need to know straight away if someone has posted a photo, or has liked your status? If the answer to that is no, turn your notifications off! Let your phone be quiet and don’t go running to your phone every time it buzzes.
Don’t look at your phone first thing in the morning, let your brain wake up naturally. Lots of us wake up and instantly look at our phones for messages, social media and other things we might have missed while being asleep. Give yourself an hour after waking before looking at your phone so your mind can wake up gently, without being clouded by screen use.
Going to sleep
Let your brain switch off from the day by not looking at your phone before bed for a better sleep. Lots of studies have been conducted looking at brain activity when sleeping, and the effects of going on screens right before sleeping. More often than not, we have better sleep patterns when we DON’T go on screen before sleeping, as our brains are calmer and not racing.
Charge your phone somewhere other than where you sleep so you’re not distracted at night. How many of us check our phones for the time when we wake up in the middle of the night and then get distracted by a notification on our home screen? By charging your phone somewhere else, your brain won’t be woken up by screen glare in the night, and you’ll be able to get back to sleep quicker.
Try to leave the house without your phone, to see whether you need it with you at all times. Do you need you phone with you at all times? If not, try to be without it a few times a week and see how much you rely on it.
Turn your phone off for a day and see how you feel afterwards - are you less anxious?
Now you’re not spending so much time on your phone, get creative, take up an offline hobby, get reading. It’s amazing how lots of us complain about not having enough time for everything, but we can find time to spend on social media. Spend the time you would normally use to go on your phone on something creative, you might surprise yourself.
Delete social media apps from your phone, you can always redownload them later! Now you’ve been spending less time on social media, have you come to the conclusion that you don’t need it anymore? If you're unsure, try deleting the apps - if you change your mind you can redownload them and just log in again.
Get outside ad explore the real world without being held back by technology.