In the dictionary, the informal of detoxification:
1. Biochemistry. the metabolic process by which toxins are changed into less toxic or more readily excretable substances.
2. the act of detoxifying.
3. the state of being detoxified.
4. a period of medical treatment, usually including counseling, during which a person is helped to overcome physical and psychological dependence on alcohol or drugs.
Traditionally, the word calls to mind images of excess, of someone in need of help. Images of alcohol and drug addiction and perhaps food addiction, too. More recently, however, a brand new vice has been added to the list of excesses that threatens to overtake our lives and may require detox if we don’t remain ultra vigilant: our screens.
We wake up with them.
We eat with them.
We get ready for work with them.
We work with — and on — them.
And then we fall asleep to their disruptive blue glow.
While the advent of digital tech devices has certainly made our lives easier in many ways, those pings, beeps, notifications and buzzes have also overtaken our consciousness in a way no other technology has (we certainly weren’t hanging around our landline phones waiting for something to happen all those years ago). We depend on our smartphones and computers for nearly everything — we work on them, we keep in touch with friends and family, and we track nearly every aspect of our lives, from our calorie count to our sleep rhythms. In a way, our devices have become a kind of second limb, so much so that when we misplace them or even intentionally leave them behind to get a little distance, it feels like a piece of us is missing.
Not Exactly a Healthy Relationship
Thankfully, the issue of tech addiction has received more attention as of late, with some people going so far as ditching their smartphones in favor of not-so-smart flip phones and older technology. For those who can remember a time before cell phones and the internet, ditching technology all together can feel tempting — imagine all the hours we’d get back! But of course, those drastic measures aren’t exactly feasible for all of us, especially if you depend on tech to do your job. Thankfully, you don’t have to toss your iPhone to get a little space.
If you can relate to these feelings, or you’re feeling the strain of our smartphone elsewhere, such as your neck, back, or hand from too much use (yes, all of these ailments are very real), it could be time for a digital detox. What’s a digital detox? While not quite as drastic as the definition stated above, it is a time to cut your dependence on your digital devices. Do you use your phone for everything? Is it an alarm clock, timer, wallet, camera and more? While certainly handy, these features create a dependence that could border on unhealthy. Do you find it hard to go more than 10 minutes without reaching for your phone to check social media, or do you open your phone with one intention in mind, only to find yourself distracted by another? Often what starts as a quick check of the weather turns into a 10 to 20 minute scroll sesh. Ready to take a break from your relationship with your devices?
Tips for Cutting Back on Screen Time
Get a Dose of Reality
Don’t think you need a detox? You’re probably spending more time on your phone than you realize. Get a harsh dose of reality with apps like Moment, an iOS app that tracks how often you use your phone and/or iPad every day. It can be tough to come face to face with your habits, but getting a more in-depth idea of just how frequently you look at your phone could provide the motivation you need to cut back.
Just like smoking and other addictive habits, sometimes quitting your tech takes drastic measures. While leaving your phone in a separate room could be helpful, it may not be enough (you know it’s there, all you need to access it is to walk into the room it’s in). Instead, shut off your phone at key times during the day – at lunch, for example, or during the hours leading up to bedtime. Once you get used to creating healthy boundaries around your screen time, try taking it one step further and scheduling a day or two – or even a full weekend – each month to go tech-free. Instead of focusing on your phone on these days, focus on connecting with the world around you and nurturing the hobbies you feel passionate about.
Focus on One Task at a Time
Remember when watching a movie was simply watching a movie? Tell me if this sounds familiar: After scrolling through Netflix, you finally find a movie you’re interested in. You hit ‘play’, then spend the entire hour and forty minutes scrolling IG or mindlessly surfing the internet while only somewhat focusing on the movie you picked. Or you sit down to read a book and promptly check your email.
The constant temptation of the internet and social media means it’s there all the time, always offering a distraction. Try focusing on doing one thing at a time, and you’ll likely begin to enjoy those tasks and hobbies even more. This is especially beneficial when having a meal with someone you love or spending time with family — make a pact with yourself to put real life first.
Turn off Notifications
Is your phone constantly pinging you? Do you feel your heart rate jump every time it does, yet you still reach for it? Silencing your notifications, or at least setting them to vibrate (if you absolutely MUST have them turned on) can help distance you from your device and bring some much needed calm to your day.
While you’re at it, this offers the perfect opportunity to practice not responding right away to emails and texts. Are you always shooting back immediate answers to non-urgent emails, even when you haven’t fully thought them through? Taking a breather from constantly replying to every little thing can help give you space to make your replies thoughtful and more thought out.
Do you have tried and true tips for taking a digital detox? Share with us by tagging us with @AvocadoMattress or #AvocadoGreenMagazine
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