10 ways to Digitally Detox

-Farzana Suri, Victory Coach

Ping! 

The notification on my mobile prompted me to unlock my mobile phone. A WhatsApp message from my Besties group with a link. I clicked the link and browsed through my friend’s page. I posted a comment and clicked on my Facebook notifications which led me to a birthday reminder. It was 45 minutes past and I had surfed through my LinkedIn timeline, uploaded a post on Instagram and opened 6 browser windows and was on the 425th level of my word game.

Darn it!

Has this happened to you as well? I notice this, each time I respond to a notification. Research states that being overly connected is affecting mental and physical health. At a psychological level, one can see distraction, narcissism, expectation of instant gratification, and even depression. On the physiological level there are vision problems, hearing loss, and neck strain caused by bent heads, inflicted carpel tunnel and increased posture defects, to name a few.

Farzana Suri

Couples are having relationship breakdowns as devices have invaded conversations and wedged themselves into love lives. Children are either rebelling or withdrawing due to lack of attention. What was invented to improve connectedness and bridge relationships is proving to be counter-productive. There seems to be a deficit in social skills when you see people seeking alone time with their mobiles and laptops. A client got upset when his mother called him on his mobile phone. He screamed, “why can’t you just text?!” Whoa!

Yes, digital devices have become addictions. Internet Addiction Disorder is here to stay if you do not do something about it.

Tom Kersting, a psychotherapist and author states, “People are more attached to the people and lives on their phones, but disconnected from the real-life storylines. No matter where you look, it seems that everyone is disengaged from the moment and instead staring at a device.” Couldn’t be more, true.

It’s hard to imagine a time where you were caught walking out of your house without anything in your hand except a bunch of house keys and some money. Today, you walk around with the invisible leash of your mobile phone.

Perhaps, this is why Steve Jobs, the owner of every addictive gadget imaginable rationed screen time for his own children. Some research estimates state that an individual spends the equivalent of three weeks every year on social media and emails – a time could have been better utilised being home with your loved ones or going away on that much-needed vacation. You have the option to let it take over your life or you can be boss and stake your control. 

How do you digitally detox?

Your time and attention, is what gets you hooked in the first place. So, reclaim it by using any of the 10 ways to start with.

  1. Start with one gadget at a time. How many devices do you have? A smartphone, smartwatch, a Kindle, an iPad, a laptop, a desktop? Start with one device, change one habit at a time.
  2. Keep the phone out of your bedroom at night.

Set aside all electronic devices at least half an hour before you go to bed. If you reach for your phone first thing in the morning, then break the habit by leaving it in another room when you go to bed. Wake up to the alarm on the traditional clock. This allows you to relax instead of getting hyper with the obtrusive mail from your client or message from your boss that gets you irritated and anxious. Take 5 breaths in, hold 5 breaths and release 5. 5 times and you’ve grounded yourself to a fresh start.

  1. Turn off the pings. Turn off all notifications on your phone. The pings have the ability to increase your heart rate and trigger a nervous response. Your smartphone will call out to you, beg you to silently check when you turn off the pings. RESIST. You are stronger than that piece of plastic and metal. Do you really need to know every time someone updates their post or sends an e-mail?
  2. The Dinner Device game. This a game you can play during a meal at home or while eating out at a restaurant. Everyone places their devices face down on the dinner table, and the first one to reach for their device does the dishes or picks up the tab.
  3. Monitor your usage. There is are apps for this like Moment and BreakFree. These are self-regulatory apps which track your smartphone usage. It’s a reality check. They allow you to see the time you’re spending or ‘wasting’.
  4. Schedule No-Device periods in the day. A few ways to do this are during meal times or not look at any device past 10pm. Make sure you walk the talk at home. If you impose this on the kids, you ought to stick to it as well.
  1. Develop a Hobby. Spend digital-free time by getting back to an old hobby or learning something new e.g. reading (not on a Kindle), cooking, singing, doodling, skating, any DIY activity, painting, cycling, walking.
  1. Set NO Device Zones. Especially, while driving. It’s scary to see drivers texting while driving! Another place is the study room so you are not distracted or in conference rooms at meetings, where you can get co-workers to leave their phones at their desks. A new entrant to this zone off late, is the toilet. Yes, you read correctly. People have begun spending a longer time for something that may not require that amount of time.
  2. Schedule time for technology: Moderate use by setting tech time. An hour each morning/evening while on the way to work, soon after lunch. Use the phone only to take calls is a great way to set limits on its use so it does not disrupt interpersonal relationships.
  3. Drink water and take a short walk. Every time you have the urge to go through your phone, STOP. Have a glass of water and take a short walk. You’ll meet some people along the way. Have a real conversation. It’ll help your mind and body. 

What are the benefits of a digital detox?

Plenty.

You’ll have better relationships. You’ll sleep and eat well. Your attention span will increase. You’ll have real, meaningful conversations. You’ll have lesser eyestrain, better posture, be physically fitter, cure any insomnia or anxiety and be more relaxed. You’ll begin to have a relationship with you and strengthen those, which matter.

Do it, now. Do it, for yourself. Do it, for the ones you love.

Farzana Suri Victory Coach is a life coach and uses simple workable techniques to coaches you to lead a life of victory. You can connect with her on farzana@farzanasuri.com or www.farzanasuri.com