In dire need of a Digital Detox?
22 February 2019
Chances are you’re probably reading this on your phone. If not, I bet your phone is sitting pretty close by. It’s safe to say we are all pretty dependent on our phones. But with the constant flood of texts, emails, notifications, reminders and calls, any wonder why it’s hard to switch off.
With the introduction of screen time monitoring on some devices, are you really aware of how harmful too much screen time might be having on your health and wellbeing? Growing research shows that too much digital stimulation is decreasing our ability to concentrate, increasing stress and disturbing our sleeping pattern. It not only affects our own health but also our relationships with our friends, families and partners.
By following these few simple steps, you can take back a little control and feel all the better for it:
Say no to notifications
Our phones buzz, light up and ding when we receive an alert and we are hard-wired to respond. Oh, some blender company liked your Insta post from three years ago! That could’ve waited until lunch, except you checked it quickly during a meeting. Is this situation all too familiar? By turning off app notifications, you can’t respond to them there and then which means you won’t constantly be waiting for an alert to go off. You’re not going offline, but you are taking control.
Whether we’re at the gym or taking a walk outside, we always use our headphones. One way to forgo all digital distractions is by ditching the phone, headphones, the lot and try to be a little more mindful when exercising. Just enjoy the natural environment when you are out walking– the sounds, smells and sights a.k.a. forest bathing as it is known in Japan! For some, this might be a step too far, so instead try sticking your phone on airplane mode while you’re working out, so you aren’t tempted to answer a text.
The best way to cut down digital time is to do it gradually so you are more likely to form a new habit. For some people, going a few minutes without checking their phone can be difficult, as it has now become an automatic response. Ease yourself into taking breaks from your phone. Start by putting your phone away for 15 minutes without looking at it for one day, the next break day, away for 30 minutes. In addition, set aside daily periods with no screen time such as meal times with the family or have a phone-free weekend with your partner – who knows the interesting conversations you will delve into!
Don’t become tempted
Like anything we restrict ourselves with, it’s very easy to become tempted when the cravings kick-in. To keep focused consider other activities– reading a book, buying a magazine, going for a coffee or heading out for a walk. Handy tip: Keep a book in your bag. We often scroll social media while we’re on the train or waiting on a friend, so fill up the time by reading.
Time is of the essence
One of the most common reasons we look at our phones is to check the time. But by just checking the time, we might have wasted 5 minutes looking at emails, answering texts and scrolling Facebook. By using an old-fashioned watch, or clock on your desk at work, the urge to check your phone will dwindle.
Enrol friends and family
We’ve all experienced going out for dinner or meeting friends for a catch up and everyone’s on their phones, including yourself. Next time there is a family dinner or a catch up with friends, suggest a phone-ban – you might be surprised at how many people will want to do it.
With new research showing a very real link between social media and depression, removing social media apps from your phone can dramatically reduce this risk. If you feel that social media or your “digital life” has a negative impact on your mood, you may be able to get mental health assistance under our Private Health Insurance product.