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Digital devices are a crucial part of our everyday lives. We rely on them to accomplish our daily tasks quicker and more efficiently. Moreover, we can find them nearly everywhere, from office buildings to schools and libraries.
Unfortunately, relying more and more on computers, phones, and tablets can come at the cost of your mental health, making it imperative to unplug and have a digital detox. Read on to learn more about digital detox for better mental health today.
How Digital Devices Impact Our Mental Health
First and foremost, the invention of digital devices like computers and smartphones has brought people numerous mental health benefits, such as a better sense of self-efficacy, less psychosocial stress, fewer depressive symptoms, and more.
However, using the same digital devices also comes with drawbacks. Excessive amounts of screen time can lead to sleep interruptions, low self-esteem due to social comparisons, fewer opportunities for exercise, and more.
Given the negative effects of digital devices on mental health, it is crucial to take regular breaks from technology. This can help us improve sleep and increase productivity. Moreover, it can help us maintain healthier and deeper relationships with our family, friends, and colleagues.
What Is a Digital Detox?
A digital detox is a period when a person refrains from using digital devices, such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets. When it comes to determining how long you should go on a digital detox, it can last from a few hours to several days. In some cases, a person might even go weeks without touching an electronic device. Carol Vidal, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, suggests taking a break from digital devices when technology starts interfering with your life.
The following are some of the signs you need to take a break from using digital devices:
- You have high levels of stress and anxiety.
- You have trouble concentrating.
- You feel insecure or have low self-esteem.
- You are sleep-deprived.
- You spend most of your time in front of the screen.
Tips For A Successful Digital Detox
Careful planning and preparation are necessary for a successful digital detox. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Set clear goals: Define why you want to undertake a digital detox and what you want to get out of the experience.
- Communicate with others: Let your friends, family, and colleagues know that you'll be undertaking a digital detox as you wouldn’t want them to worry about you suddenly “disappearing” from social media. Moreover, it lets them know to avoid tagging or reaching out to you online.
- Find alternative activities: Identify alternative activities that you can do during your digital detox. Some examples include reading, working out, swimming at the beach, or spending time with loved ones.
- Remove digital distractions: Eliminate any digital devices that may tempt you to break your digital detox. You can do this by either asking your loved ones to hide your computer, laptop, or phone somewhere.
- Start small: If you're new to digital detoxing, you might want to start with a shorter time limit and gradually increase the duration.
Post-Detox Tips to Maintain a Healthy Relationship With Technology
Once you've finished a digital detox, it's important to sustain a healthy relationship with technology. Basically, what this means is you use digital devices in a way that enhances your life without sacrificing your physical and mental health. With that said, here are some tips to help you do so:
- Control your digital device consumption by setting limits on social media sites and email usage. For example, Dr. Ameera Nauman with OSF Medical Group – Primary Care suggests that teenagers limit their screen time to no more than 2 hours a day, excluding the time spent doing school work.
- Create a daily routine that involves digital device-free time, such as an hour before bed or during meals.
- Use technology to enhance your life, not get distracted from it. Use it for more positive activities, such as keeping in touch with your loved ones or enhancing your skills.
- Practice mindfulness and self-awareness to recognize when you're using technology excessively.
Going on a digital detox is essential if you want to maintain and improve your mental health. After all, it can help reduce stress, improve sleep, increase productivity, and more. So give it a try. Incorporate these tips and start your own digital detox today!
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