According to a study by the market research group, Nielsen, adults in America spend more than 11 hours per day reading, watching, listening to or interacting with media. This means people are staring at their screens more than ever. Regardless whether you are spending that much time in front of a screen because of your job or just as a distraction, you should know that this is not healthy, and not just for your eyes, but for your overall wellbeing as well.
Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences examined the connection between screen use and wellbeing and found that screen technologies have an adverse outcome on mental health if used excessively.
But, who am I to preach? I spend a minimum of eight hours in front of my computer screen when I’m at work, and a couple of hours extra on my phone and in front of the TV when I get home. However, I’m well aware of the bad influence this has on my health, so I try to give my brain the opportunity to rest. It’s what digital detox is all about.
Wrap your head around the harmful effects of too much tech
- I need the phone for work.
- I need to be online if someone tries to contact me.
- I’m just trying to be up to date with the recent news.
- It’s just fun.
Does any of these sentences sound familiar? Probably because you have said them one too many times. To stop using them, you need to face some facts.
- Expecting and receiving text messages even after work, activates your fight or flight response and increases your stress levels.
- The stress and the blue screen light combined can keep you alert even when you are not supposed to be and prevent you from getting enough sleep.
- Studies have found that too much Internet can be addictive.
- Too much screen time damages the brain and causes changes in executive attention, emotional processing, cognitive control, and decision making.
The perks of digital detox
Taking some time off from your computer and phone can lead to many benefits:
- Spending some time away from your phone and computer regularly beeping and informing you of messages, e-mails, and comments can result in a calmer you.
- The less time you are checking your social media accounts, the more productive you’ll be.
- It will give you more time to connect with actual people and work on your social life.
- If you are constantly in front of your laptop or holding a phone in your hands, you are probably sitting or lying in an uncomfortable position. Your back and your metabolism will be grateful for the detox.
- Finally, you’ll improve your sleep routine.
How to do a mind and body detox?
I’m not going to lie to you. It won’t be easy, but it will be tremendously rewarding. Digital detox is not the same for everyone. Some people can’t afford the luxury to take the time off from work, but you can at least try a mini version of it during the weekend.
Once you’ve made a firm decision, you should get a notebook which will serve as your journal. There, you will write how are you feeling at any given moment, are you experiencing a crisis or do you feel any improvements?
Then you need to create a routine that will work for you. Mine was getting up at seven, meditating and doing yoga, having a nutritious breakfast, reading, lunch, meeting a friend, taking a walk, some more yoga, and then having fun at night (e.g. bowling, dinner with family, or something similar).
Of course, as every routine, after a couple of days, this became slightly boring, so I tried to squeeze in an extra activity now and then. I’ve found scuba diving resources available online and headed for an adventure. You would be surprised just how easy it is to be separated from your phone when you are amazed at the awe-inspiring nature and fascinating people you meet when you step out of your comfort zone.
What happens to your brain, body, and life during a digital detox?
Not all of us experience digital detox in the same way, but some consequences and experiences are quite similar.
For one, the way we converse changes. I’ve noticed that while at work, I use a lot of popular memes, tech terms, and abbreviations. During the digital detox, I’ve felt I had deeper and more meaningful conversations with people.
Some people reported better posture, improved memory, and more physical activity.
Stress levels are usually lower, as the phone isn’t alerting you every two seconds and causing accelerated heart rate.
I’ve also reconnected with some of the people from my past and became closer with my family, which, consequently, improved my mood and wellbeing.
Technology is a wonderful thing, and it is making our lives easier in ways we can’t even comprehend, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have lives outside our screens. Doing a digital detox once a month or even more frequently can do wonders for your mind and body, so give it a try!
About Caitlin Evans
Caitlin is a bookworm, photographer and dancer. She is also a graphic designer, but that one is on hold at the moment. When she is not trying to find the meaning of life and Universe, Cate is researching and writing about various lifestyle related topics. She is happily addicted to art in all its forms, grilled tofu and caffeine.
To see what Caitlin is up to next, check out her Twitter Dashboard.