I knew I needed a digital detox when I couldn’t complete a single activity without my phone. Whether I was going for a walk, making breakfast, or even going to the bathroom, my phone was carried everywhere, like an extra limb.
With the past few months of lockdown, it’s become even worse. Endless hours of Zoom calls, facetiming friends, and scrolling through social media has left me glued to my screens and more reliant on devices than ever before.
Though these advancements have made working from home and seeing loved ones virtually more seamless than ever, it has almost blurred the line between personal and work life. Many of us have grown numb to the constant ping of our phone, and are finding it hard to switch off when the opportunity presents.
So how do you know if you’re too reliant on your phone? Well, here’s how I know I need a digital detox.
When I Can’t Rest Till I’ve Reached 10,000 Steps
Many of us – myself included – have become obsessed with hitting that golden 10K step count. This is an awesome way to get some daily activity in and track your fitness goals, but sometimes there’s a disconnect between that ‘magic number’ and how I actually feel. The 10,000 doesn’t take into account my gym session or yoga class, or the time I walked to the shops without my phone.
I tried to counteract this need to bring my phone everywhere by purchasing an apple watch, but if anything it made me more obsessed with the number that would show up on the screen.
Now, rather than letting the number determine whether I’ve done enough exercise, I’m tuning into my body. Do I feel restful or lethargic or agitated? Are my muscles sore and tired or ready to roll? Then instead of focusing on the device, I can focus on the feeling of nature around me, the serotonin and endorphins I get, and the joy of being able to move my body regularly.
When I Do Stuff For The Picture, Rather Than The Moment
Have you ever gone on a walk or watched the sunset just so you can get a picture for the ‘gram? I certainly have.
While it’s beautiful to have memories to look back on, sometimes your phone can act like a barrier between yourself and the experience. Instead of enjoying the moment, you’re creating ‘content’. Instead of connecting with those around you, you’re trying to impress your followers.
Recently, I’ve started leaving my phone at home when I’m doing something ‘Insta-worthy’ such as watching a sunset or going out to dinner. It has allowed me to soak up every little moment as I live it and to be honest, it makes those experiences so much more worthwhile.
When I Can’t Switch Off From Work After Hours
Hands up if you find yourself checking your phone for messages or emails from work after hours? Hello, SAME.
Being able to distinguish your personal life from your work life is tremendously important for your mental health. Not doing so can lead to unwanted stress, anxiety and burnout that is just not necessary.
I’ve started switching off my phone at 5pm and heading out for a long walk or having some drinks with friends. Doing this has made a world of difference and allowed me to truly enjoy moments both inside and outside of work.
How I Give Myself A Break From Screens
Whenever I realise I need a little screen break, the next step is to actually DO IT! Some people find it super easy to just put their phones down, but I need a little more structure.
Here’s how I do it:
1. Delete. The. Apps.
According to a study from Harvard, there’s nothing addictive about the phone itself. It’s the applications we choose to add to it. So, deleting my ‘vice’ apps is the first step.
Once I delete all my social media apps, I always feel instantly better. This allows me to still use my phone for necessary things like calls and texts, and slowly I start to forget about Facebook altogether.
2. Get A Detox Buddy
Holding myself accountable with the support of a friend makes the experience much easier (and also makes me feel less alone).
Invite someone to do the digital detox with you, and reward each other with quality time together. You could even plan something special, like a fancy dinner or picnic, sans phones!
3. Plan Social Events Ahead Of Time
Many of my friends communicate and make plans via social media, whether that’s via Instagram DMs, Snapchat, FB messenger or WhatsApp.
To counter this, I let my friends know I’m having a break from socials, and organise plans beforehand so I don’t miss out. If worst comes to worst, they can still call if something comes up. Oh, and make sure these friends are reliable! 😀
4. Schedule Notifications For Certain Times Of The Day
Many messaging services allow you to schedule your notifications so they don’t buzz during unwanted times. My workplace uses Teams for all work-related communications, and there’s a great function to turn off notifications for whatever days and times you want to ‘switch off.’ No weekend work worries… yay!!
5. Limit Myself To One Screen At A Time
I love a Friday night family movie night, so I’m not gonna throw that away completely. However, I do sometimes pick up my phone and start mindlessly scrolling if the film gets a little… slow. When I do my detox, I really try to limit myself to one screen at a time and enjoy those precious moments spent with loved ones.
Have you ever done a digital detox? Tell us your tips in the Wild Women Community. Need some inspiration and ideas on what to do now? Try our blog Six Things You Can Do This Weekend That Don’t Involve Screens.