The idea of taking a digital detox may sound ‘trendy’, but it’s actually more than just a trend. It’s an important piece of your self-care routine that allows you to address your mental health in an age where we’re constantly plugged in and surrounded by technology. I’m sure you’ve heard of the many ways to detox in relation to food and diet. Well, similarly, you can design a customized recipe for a digital detox, too, that’ll help you achieve your goal – whatever that may be for you.

Some of the reasons you may want to take a digital detox are:

  • To Give Yourself An Emotional Reset

  • To Reduce Anxiety, And Calm Your Nerves

  • To Remind Yourself What Makes You Truly Happy

  • To Challenge Yourself to Do Things Without Apps (…use an actual map?? say what??)

  • To Break a Bad Habit

  • To Reduce Screen Time And Exposure to Harmful Blue Light

  • To Connect with Nature, Your Friends, Good Books (Focus without Distraction)

  • To Train Yourself to Handle FOMO (And the Urgency to Check Your Phone)

  • To Make Yourself More Aware of How Much You Rely on Technology

So, what exactly is a digital detox? When should you do it? How should you do it? And for how long? This, and more, below. Keep reading!

What Is A Digital Detox?

For many of us, our smartphones have become extensions of ourselves. They’re with us almost all of our waking hours and are used for everything from checking emails, to editing content, to watching television, and even controlling our home. In fact, they’re even ‘with’ us in our non-waking hours. Many people are connected during sleep, while their device gathers data and analyzes their sleep hygiene, heart rate and breathing patterns. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you check your phone? What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed? Do you check your phone?

Over time, these activities can become so habitual that you don’t actually realize how much time you are connected… or, more importantly how much time you are NOT connected.

Over-connectivity has side effects. Some that are obvious. You notice when your stress levels and anxiety increase while comparing yourself to others on social media. You recognize when you’re tired because you’re up too late watching TikTok videos. The physical/emotional consequences are easy to recognize. But what if your digital consumption is causing problems that you aren’t aware of? What if your spouse is becoming irritable because you are reading the news instead of asking about her day? What if you dismissed your son 3 times before answering his question because you were scrolling social media? The list goes on and on, and everyone that consumes digital information is at least a little guilty of these things.

A digital detox is a simple concept: Remove yourself from your connected devices. And if that’s not possible, remove apps, games, and so forth from your digital devices so to consume them less.

So what does that look like? There are countless ways to do it but you need to start by asking yourself: What is my goal? Start there.

When You Know It’s Time To Take A Break

  • If social media is causing you feelings sadness, you should take a break.

  • If you’re on your phone late in the night while you should be sleeping, you need a break.

  • If you’re bickering more with your significant other, friends, or family members, you need a break.

  • If things aren’t getting done that should get done, you need a break.

  • If you’re stalking people, you need a break.

  • If you’re stalking your new or ex boy/girlfriend, you need a break.

  • If you go through a tough breakup, you need a break.

  • If you can’t focus, you need a break.

  • If your anxiety level is heightened, you need a break.

  • If you lose track of time while using your device, you need a break.

  • If your eyes are tired, or your mood has shifted, you need a break (from the blue light!)

  • If you’re feeling left out or isolated, you need a break.

  • If you’re comparing yourself to others, you need a break.

  • If you have feelings of hopelessness, you need a break.

  • If you’re basing your self-worth on likes and follows, you need a break.

  • If you making posts just for self reassurance, you need a break.

  • If you have anxiety when you leave your phone at home, you need a break.

  • If you feel like your phone is your ‘life’, you need a break.

  • If you feel guilty after being on your phone too long, you need a break.

  • If you feel constant urges to check your phone throughout the day, you need a break.

  • If you look at your phone even when you don’t get a notification, you need a break.

  • If you feel ‘ghost’ notifications, you need a break.

  • If you feel like you never have enough time in the day, you need a break.

  • If you feel totally wiped out at the end of each day, you need a break.

  • If you don’t know what’s causing your bad mood, take a break.

Simple But Life-Changing Tips For Reducing Your Screen Time

Based on the goal that you have already decided on (above), you can take ideas from the suggestions below, or come up with your own ideas to create your customized recipe for a digital detox.

Full Detox:

Or, Partial Detox Ideas:

  • Screen Time ‘Time-Out’, 2 Hours Every Night – (Check out this lock box on Amazon!)

  • Each night allow yourself 30 minutes to browse social media/news/etc. (at a specific time) but set an alarm. When the alarm rings, you’re done for the night.

  • Put your phone in do not disturb mode and inside a dresser drawer each day at the same time for an hour.

  • Power down your phone while you are eating.

  • No food photos for a month.

  • No selfies for a month.

  • Charge your phone in the kitchen instead of the bedroom. (Buy a real alarm clock!)

  • Create a rule that you cannot check your phone until you are prepared for the day (ie. showered, dressed, etc.)

  • Uninstall all game apps from phone – play board games. (Monopoly, That’s What She Said and Scrabble are great options!)

  • Uninstall all social media apps from phone.

  • Remove all push notifications. (Forever!)

  • Find a go-to for boredom – grab a book, make a tea, do art. (Use our drawing prompts!)

  • Make a ‘one thing’ rule – if you have downtime, you need to complete one thing from your to-do list before grabbing your phone.

  • Power down computer after each use.

  • Remove batteries from TV remote (yes, TV is still a device!) after each viewing session.

  • Delete all ‘remembered’ passwords from your devices.

  • Create a phone ‘home base’ and leave your phone there all the time, only allowing yourself to use it while you are standing in that location.

    Some Additional Tips

  • Do a detox with an accountability partner. (Write letters to each other and report your progress!)

  • Reward yourself for small accomplishments.

  • Do a 1 minute meditation when you feel the urge to grab your phone.

  • Repeat gratitude statements to yourself each day of your detox.

  • Try something new and/or out of your comfort zone.

  • Spend time drawing or writing. (Use our sketchpads for a month!)

  • Go for walks, get outside no matter the weather!

How Can I Cope With The FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)?

Social media has given rise to FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, which can be overwhelming. As social media perpetuates our need to experience all that life has to offer in real time, we feel more self-conscious that if we aren’t online we’ll miss out on something important. This feeling can create an urge to constantly scroll through the many social media platforms, almost unconsciously, trying to gather as much information as you can about everyone else’s life. Not good.

There’s Two Main Problems With FOMO:

1) By watching the fun and exciting experiences people are posting about, you’re beginning to feel that your life doesn’t compare. This leads to all sorts of negative emotions.

2) You feel just plain left out when you see your friends/family or others doing fun things without you.

If you’re experiencing anxiety and fear of missing out, you need to prioritize self-care. It’s critical to take some time off from social media sites every so often – or even one day each week – so that you can have some time to reset and clear your mind. By doing this, you will reset your negative emotional state of FOMO

The Biggest Benefit Of Doing A Detox

The most important reason for you to take a digital detox is to protect your mental and physical health. When we spend all our time in front of screens – especially when those screens are beaming into our faces – it can have detrimental effects, both physically and mentally.

The blue light emitted by screens literally messes with your hormones. Looking at your phone before bed? Guess what – the blue light blocks a hormone called melatonin… which is what causes you to get sleepy. It can also cause eye problems such as blurry vision, dry eye, macular degeneration and so on.

But when deciding to take a digital detox, the more popular reason is to improve your mental health and overall happiness. While there’s been controversy on whether or not phones cause depression – there’s no doubt that they play a role in our mental health.

Studies have shown just by glancing at your phone (even if it doesn’t light up), you can feel stress levels rise, anxiety increase and your mood deteriorate. One study found adults who used their phones for text communications with others had lower feelings of social support than those who did not use their cellphone at all. Another study revealed people who are heavy users of smartphones experience higher self-reported mental distress. Put simply: constant exposure to screens has a negative impact on our mental wellbeing. Those little sparks we get from getting likes, shares or retweets are short lived; but losing sleep over them is much longer lasting! So a digital detox isn’t just about self-care – it’s about your overall mental health. Taking a detox will make a significant positive impact on your life.

You Will Want To Do This Again!

A digital detox will create more balance in your life. It will reset areas that are currently out of control. It will kickstart the breaking of bad habits. It will give your mind a break from social media comparisons. It will allow you to eat without having the urge to take a photo of your food. It will let you reconnect with your favorite people in a different way… and reconnect with your favorite books, and your favorite hobbies, and your favorite self. You will be reminded of life from a simpler time. You will breathe easier, sleep better, and feel less stress. You will love it, and you’ll want to do it again!

And remember, it isn’t about disconnecting forever – reconnecting is good for you too. When you reconnect after a detox, you’ll have a different perspective!