The benefits of a digital detox

Mobile technology may make life easier, but constant connectedness can also increase your stress levels. If that’s the case for you, then it may time for a digital detox.

From incessant notifications on tablets and mobile phones, to Facebook friends constantly posting photos of their every move and meal, staring at the screens of smart technology can lead to the feeling of being ‘wired’, which can have all kinds of negative effects on your mind and body.

If you think you may be spending too much time on your phone or computer, or in front of your television, then it may be time for a digital detox. Even just one day a week away from your devices will do you wonders.

I am by no means technophobic, but I recently spent a ‘Neo-Luddite’ weekend away from my phone and computer. I even took a break from television. Sure, it was only two days, but there were some noticeable benefits, some of which I’d like to share with you now.

I slept better

Going to bed at night without the threat of the phone ringing or an alarm going off meant that I felt much more at ease when I got horizontal. As you may be aware, the blue light on phone, laptop, tablet and TV screens can also keep you awake at night. I also woke when my body was ready to wake, which, coincidently, was pretty much the same time as I would have risen with my phone alarm. And usually I would reach for my phone and be immediately bombarded with a multitude of messages and notifications that had come through overnight. Instead, I turned to my partner and gave her a kiss good morning.

This is probably the benefit that had the most positive effect on me, and really underlined the fact that being so connected all the time can indeed cause subconscious stress.

I enjoyed reading

Instead of watching television at night, I read. And it was great. I love to read and I read quite a lot, usually on the train to and from work. But reading at night time without distractions really allowed me to take in all those brilliantly penned words, and even the meaning behind them became clearer. Add to that the fact that it made me sleepy a lot quicker than falling asleep with the idiot box on, just capped off another positive aspect of temporarily boycotting technology.

Conversation became more colourful

The first thing I noticed was the peace and quiet. I’m not too big on answering my mobile on weekends anyway, but not seeing texts, emails and notifications was a breath of fresh air. I did not miss it at all. What I did miss, however, was that I couldn’t look something up whenever the need pressed. In conversation, if something comes up and I’m not sure of the context or meaning, I will quickly look it up on my phone. Well, no phone meant no knowledge – or so I thought. What ended up happening was that instead of instant reference to any information, I had conversations that went on tangents and were flourished with opinions and speculation, which was more fun than just having the answers. In this search for meaning, it could be argued that I learned more by not having my phone handy. And the best bit was that we had fun talking and not looking down at our phones for answers.

I felt less pressure to engage

Admittedly, I’m not the biggest user of social media in my private time. It’s that old mechanic story, you know, the last thing a mechanic wants to do when they’re at home is work on cars. So having embargoed anything with access to the internet meant that I felt no pressure to be connected. In fact, I relished not knowing what my friends were doing on the weekend. Instead of having the latest info on my favourite sports teams, I looked forward to catching up with it all during the week. I spent more time doing things around the house, picking up unfinished projects and sorting out life stuff that required no technology. I really must say, saying no to technology actually allowed me to get a lot more done – stuff that really mattered in the physical world.

I felt more present

When you don’t have your phone in your pocket, or instant access to the internet, you immediately start looking around for other distractions. And the best distraction for me was just being present and noticing the things around me. I stared at the artwork hanging on my walls. I spent time looking at the scenery and the people around me. Birds seemed more active and a lot funnier to watch. Instead of popping on the iPod, I played some records (okay, so, technically this could be considered technology, but it didn’t have a screen and isn’t connected to the internet, so give me this one!). I appreciated little things such as the colours of the leaves against the sky and watching my dog from behind as he trotted down the street on our extended walk – these were all small, seemingly mundane benefits, but huge for my own wellbeing. I felt more relaxed, more at peace and less distracted. To the point when it came to Monday, I didn’t want to turn my phone on again.

My digital detox left me feeling refreshed and extremely satisfied with my weekend. So, tell the kids you’ll be uncontactable for a bit and take a break from technology. I can guarantee you won’t regret it.

Have you ever enjoyed time away from your technology? What benefits did you experience?

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