5 Simple Lifestyle Habits You Can Make To Help Your Digital Detox

In today's digital age, our dependence on screens has become undeniable. Whether it's our computers, phones, or TVs, we find ourselves constantly seeking new information and entertainment. Despite knowing the importance of taking a break from these devices, we often succumb to the urge to check messages or browse social media. However, it's crucial to recognize the negative impact excessive screen time can have on our physical and mental well-being. Physically, prolonged screen use can cause strain on our eyes, affect our posture, and contribute to weight gain, leading to various health issues. Yet, the impact on our mental health is even more concerning. Excessive screen time has been linked to social anxiety, depression, anger management problems, peer pressure, and negative body image. While completely breaking these screen habits may be challenging, there are simple lifestyle changes that can help you achieve a digital detox without completely sacrificing your screen time. By incorporating these habits into your routine, you can strike a balance between enjoying screen activities and promoting healthier well-being. To get started, here are five effective habits to aid your digital detox journey:

Put Your Phone To Bed At Night

Tired of spending countless hours scrolling through your phone before bed? It's time to establish a healthy habit and put your phone to bed as well. Give your phone its own designated spot, away from your sleeping area, like a drawer or a separate room. Make sure to do this at least an hour before you plan to sleep, as it takes time for our brains to unwind from the blue light emitted by screens.

Blue light tricks our brains into believing it's still daytime, making it harder for us to fall asleep. Even if you use your phone as an alarm clock, there are alternative options available. Consider using an alarm clock that simulates a gradual sunrise, allowing your body to wake up more naturally.

Confession time: I've been guilty of taking my phone to bed with me too, justifying it as an alarm clock necessity. However, I often wake up before the alarm, and in my groggy state, rarely check my phone immediately. If you struggle with sleep issues or find yourself frequently indulging in late-night scrolling, adopting the practice of stowing your phone well before bedtime can greatly improve your sleep quality.

Ban Phones From Meal Times

It frustrates me immensely when I witness parents giving their children devices during meal times, using them as a means to keep them occupied while they enjoy their meals in peace. This type of parenting is lazy and is leading to the development of detrimental habits. Unfortunately, it's not just children who are engrossed in screens during meals; adults are guilty of this too. I've observed couples sitting in restaurants, more focused on their phones than engaging in conversation with each other. Instead of truly connecting and enjoying the company of loved ones, we are allowing the virtual world to distract us.

Even having a phone present on the table can be a distraction, as we are constantly on alert for notifications or messages. Moreover, it is simply impolite. Imagine being with someone who continually checks their phone while you are trying to have a conversation. It conveys the message that they are not fully present and would rather be elsewhere. This behavior not only distracts from the company but also interferes with the act of eating itself. Research indicates that when we eat in front of screens, we tend to consume more food than necessary, as we are not mindful of our body's signals of fullness. Additionally, we are less likely to savor and appreciate the taste of our food, merely consuming it out of habit.

Adopting the simple habit of putting away our phones before sitting down to eat and enforcing this rule for the entire family is essential. At home, phones should be kept away from the dining table, and when dining out, they should be placed in bags or pockets. Remember, children learn by observing our behaviors, so if they witness us using our phones during meals, they will believe it is acceptable for them to do the same.

Turn Off Notifications

If you find yourself constantly checking your devices every time you receive a notification, it's crucial to break this habit and reclaim control over your time. Remember, it's not realistic or healthy to be available 24/7. By responding immediately to every request, you inadvertently set the expectation that you'll always be readily available. However, if you don't reply promptly, others may assume something is wrong or that you're intentionally ignoring them. To combat this, consider turning off notifications for your emails, messages, and other alerts. This way, you can still receive them without being interrupted, allowing you to focus on important tasks. Instead of constantly monitoring your inbox, set specific times throughout the day to check and respond to emails. Another option is to adjust your email settings so that new messages are checked at regular intervals, such as every hour. Additionally, examine whether you truly need notifications for social media platforms. Is knowing when someone checks into a location, the latest OOTD hashtag trends, or the current complaints on local community pages essential? Most likely, these updates are not critical and can be avoided. Taking control of your notifications will help you prioritize your time and minimize distractions, leading to increased productivity and overall well-being.

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

Like many aspects of our lives, if we are unable to see our screens, they tend to slip from our minds. Portable devices such as smartphones, gaming consoles, and laptops can be easily hidden away, unlike wall-mounted widescreen TVs. Nevertheless, even the TV remote can be conveniently stashed out of sight. To encourage children to disconnect from technology, we enforce a rule in our household that prohibits devices from being kept in their bedrooms overnight. While my son has a TV and Xbox in his room, he isn't permitted to have remote controls with him during bedtime. Reluctantly, they surrender their devices to us before showering and preparing for bed. We then store them away in a cupboard or drawer downstairs. I know for certain that if these devices were left in their rooms, particularly in my son's case, he would be engrossed in them all night. Therefore, removing the temptation is crucial. As adults, we are not much better, constantly checking our phones countless times throughout the day. This holds true for me, especially since my work requires extensive screen time and online engagement. Given my weak willpower, I have to hide my phone and laptop when I feel the need to regain control, just like I do with biscuits and chocolate in the house. I want to emphasize that I'm not suggesting we abandon our phones and devices entirely; that would be absurd. However, it is absolutely vital that we take breaks from technology. This brings me to my final tip...

Have A Holiday From Technology

During our holidays, we enforce strict rules when it comes to using technology. Our family believes in taking a break from screens and enjoying quality time together. For instance, we prohibit the use of screens in the car, as it can cause motion sickness and detract from the experience of playing classic car games like Pubs Legs, Word Association, or I Spy. Instead, we encourage other activities such as listening to audio books or engaging in car karaoke, ensuring everyone is content.

When we travel abroad, we allow our kids to use their tablets on the plane, but once we arrive at our destination, all devices are collected and securely stored in the hotel safe until our return flight. Similarly, I personally make an effort to disconnect from my phone during vacations. Holidays should be a time to relax and unwind, without the constant distractions of technology or the need to stay connected with the outside world.

We firmly believe that taking occasional breaks from digital devices is essential for overall well-being. It allows us to fully engage with reality, reconnect with loved ones, and escape the overwhelming flow of information constantly bombarding us. Whether you choose to completely disconnect for an extended period or simply set aside designated times to go offline, incorporating digital detoxes into your routine can bring about positive changes.

Implementing these five simple steps can help you transform your screen habits. While there may be occasional slip-ups along the way, as we are only human after all, reducing screen time even by a small margin can greatly benefit your overall well-being. Do you have any tips for disconnecting? Share your thoughts with us!

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