No matter how much you love what you do and the people you work with, you need regular days off and vacation time. Other elements of your life can benefit from the same type of break. A digital detox is a period of time when you limit or avoid social media and other mediated communication as much as possible. Of course, there is nothing wrong with staying connected to friends and family online. However, if your phone is next to you at all times or you feel nervous when you are away from it, taking some time off from your life online can have many benefits.
Contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as too much communication. From the time you wake up until the time you go to bed, you may be bombarded by messages, and not all of them are useful or helpful. Limiting your intake of mediated communication can minimize the risk of being distracted from other messages that may be more important at the moment.
A digital detox doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor. If you can pinpoint the specific ways that your phone or computer are distracting you, you can improve your focus by simply taking a break from those things. There is more than one way to implement a digital detox:
- Complete fast from all devices for a short amount of time (i.e., a day or two)
- Regularly scheduled day off from mediated communication every week or month
- Restriction of one particular app or type of communication
Improves Mental Health
Like all social situations, online connections can have many benefits. If you rely too heavily on them, though, they can also have disadvantages. Social comparison with others who seem to be living lives that are better than yours can leave you feeling dissatisfied with your own, even if you are meeting all your goals and doing your best. When you see pictures of friends hanging out or going together to a place you would have liked to have been invited, it can dredge up old wounds and lead to a fear of missing out.
A digital detox can help you reorder your perspective. Taking time off to enjoy your own life tends to make you less jealous of others are enjoying theirs. It can also serve as a reminder that posts on social media are heavily curated and don't show the duller parts of everyone's lives. Limiting or eliminating your use of social media can improve your self-esteem, lower stress levels and boost your overall mental health.
Boosts Physical Well-Being
Spending many hours a day in front of a screen can take not only an emotional toll but a physical one as well. If you don't take frequent breaks, the blue light from the screen can cause eye strain, dry eyes and headaches, similar to the effects of being out in the sun for too long without protection. A daily detox, particularly if you have a job where you are staring at a screen for long periods of time, may be helpful to reduce any negative effects you experience.
Another drawback of excessive attachment to your smartphone is sleep disruption. Your brain needs the opportunity to slow down before you can get good sleep. If you are glued to your phone right up until bedtime, it may take longer for you to fall asleep, and the quality of your sleep may be poorer than if you put the screen away a few hours before you go to bed.
Being digitally connected has both advantages and disadvantages. As with all good things, using your devices in moderation and taking a digital detox break when needed are the keys to ensuring you reap more benefits than drawbacks.