A digital detox is unplugging yourself from all your devices to reduce anxiety and improve your quality of life. It’s often recommended that you undergo a digital detox if you’re overwhelmed. Unfortunately, digital detoxes aren’t mostly practical. Most people can’t spend too much time away from their devices because they rely on them for work, safety, and communication.
The attention economy has also made content so everything is vying for your eyeballs. The belief that attention is scarce makes media companies find increasingly intrusive ways to get information to you. When you break your detox, it can feel like you’ve failed.
A digital detox is also almost impractical because you use your phone for schooling, dating, working, banking, reading, or fitness training. Studies show that screentime increased by 60-80% after the pandemic for adults. Screens are completely embedded in modern life. The more practical thing to do is reduce screen time and lower dependency as a lifestyle. This is known as digital mindfulness.
Why digital mindfulness is important
Being constantly interrupted by your devices can lead to increased anxiety and restlessness. Research shows that excessive screen time causes reduced sleep, neck pain, inability to focus, and mood swings. But you can’t eliminate technology because it’s integral to daily life. It has increased accessibility between friends and family. It may be impossible to conduct a relationship today without technology.
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When it comes to work, most people have a hybrid system where they work in person and remotely. You may be able to do a digital detox when you take time off, but when you return to your routine, you may end up with the same habits. Being away from devices can also cause anxiety because people naturally get dopamine boosts from communicating with their peers.
Read also: 6 Benefits Of A Dopamine Detox
Digital mindfulness helps you get on top of your tech use and changes your habits to reduce over-reliance on devices. Instead of focusing on cutting out technology, use your devices more intentionally. Make a habit of avoiding mindless scrolling and make your device enrich your life.
How can you practice digital mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a Buddhist concept defined as paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. Accomplishing this with your devices requires forming healthy habits when using your devices.
1. Track your usage
Many smartphones these days come with apps showing how much time you spend on different apps. iOS users have Screen Time tools, and Android users get Digital Well-Being apps. They help you track the rate of your screen time. They also help you lock addictive apps for a chosen amount of time to help you improve productivity and reduce distractions.
Other apps like One Sec help you pause before opening an app, making you consider why you want to open an app. It makes you take a deep breath before launching an app. One Sec is available for Android, Apple, and a desktop extension. This helps lower the rate of automatically opening addictive apps.
2. Leave your phone
If you don’t need your phone, leave it somewhere safe. Being addicted to your phone has you reaching for it just to check group chats or social media. From there, it’s easy to get caught up in mindless scrolling. If you’re going to the toilet, you can carry a magazine or a book. Take a walk without your phone. You can also sit outside and stare at nothing.
3. Charge your phone outside your room
Many people sleep with their phones beside them. You probably also charge your phone as you use it just before bed. A way to use your phone more mindfully is to charge it outside your bedroom. This also reduces the chances of you using it before bedtime.
Try using your phone until at least an hour before bedtime. Studies show that reducing screen time before bedtime improves sleep duration and quality, reduces pre-sleep arousal, and boosts working memory.
Keeping your phone in another room also increases productivity. It can even be more effective than putting your phone on Do Not Disturb.
4. Use your friends
If you need to focus, ask a friend to hold on to your phone so it doesn’t distract you. You can also ask them to keep it in your house or office, somewhere you are unaware of, for a dedicated period. If you need to be reached for emergencies, you can set special ringtones for your closest friends and family who need to reach you.
Going on a retreat to perform a digital detox may be impossible, but with simple habits such as these, eventually, you can take control of your device use.
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