Unplugged -- Why You May Need To Take A Digital Detox

10/13/2016 07:09 am ET Updated Oct 13, 2016

How long could you manage without technology? For many of us, we simply couldn’t imagine our lives without it. We instinctively reach for our phones as soon as we wake up, we jump at every beep and ping, we sit behind a computer all day long, we watch TV whilst stuck to our phones and we even seem to be checking them in the middle of the night and whilst in the bathroom. But is this behavior good for us, or do we need to re-evaluate our relationship with technology?

What is a digital detox?

If you think you may need to make some changes to your digital habits, you’re not the only one. Digital detoxes seem to be a growing trend, where people take a period of time away from their digital devices. It doesn’t have to be long, as even a weekend, a day, or just a few hours can make a difference.

Although some people may decide to quit technology because they’re simply dissatisfied with it, for political or ethical reasons, or because they find it distracting, an increasing number of people are taking digital detoxes because they’re finding their usage becoming addictive and bad for their mental health.

What are the benefits of a digital detox?

If you’re not convinced how a digital detox could help you, here are some of the many benefits switching off can have:

  1. Improve productivity – Technology can help make us more productive, but unfortunately, it can be a double edged sword. Technology encourages us to multi-task so we think we’re getting more done, but it can actually cause us to become distracted and therefore less productive. A digital detox can encourage us to become more focused in everything we do.
  2. Create a better work/life balance – When you’re constantly connected and carrying your devices around with you, 24/7, it can be difficult to differentiate between your work and personal time. Unplugging from technology can help you to re-balance both, so work stays in the office, whilst you put aside quality time for friends and family.
  3. Retain more information – Technology provides us with a wealth of information at our finger tips. However, technology can affect our attention span and it’s likely that you only retain information you read on a short-term basis. Switch off your computer and go old-school by reading a book and you may find that you remember a lot more.
  4. Be more creative – Struggling for some inspiration? Have you ever found that you come up with your best ideas whilst standing in the shower? Well this could be because it’s the one time you’re not connected. Try leaving your phone at home and go for a walk, or take some time to relax. Without the constant buzzing, you may be able to come up with some excellent new ideas.
  5. Become more people-oriented – Technology is easy and convenient. However, a break from technology can encourage us to have face-to-face conversations and help us improve our social skills.
  6. Improve sleep quality – Do you check your mobile phone right before you go to sleep, or during the middle of the night? Our devices emit a blue light that tells our body that it is day time. This can effect the quality of our sleep and so a digital detox should help to keep your sleeping patterns in check.
  7. Reduce stress and anxiety – Your technology usage could be making you stressed and being constantly connected can make you anxious, for fear of missing out (FOMO). Taking a break from technology, even for a short period of time can therefore help to improve your mental health.
  8. Reduce physical damage – Aside from the mental health issues of using too much technology, it can also have a physical effect. Using technology can impact our wrists from typing, our shoulders from being hunched behind a computer all day, our eyes from staring at a screen and much more. A digital detox can therefore give your body a much needed break.

How to start your digital detox

If you want to try a digital detox for yourself, then you could start by going to a holiday retreat. It’s the perfect opportunity to sit back, relax and be technology free.

However, if you want to fit your detox into your everyday life, you could start by trying to go technology free for the weekend. Switch off your phone, pick up a book or get outside for some exercise.

You can also make simple changes to your life on an ongoing basis. For example, you could consider setting curfews for when you check your phone, leave your mobile at home when you go to the gym and read a book before bed instead of checking Twitter.

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