Technology has come a long way with the advent of social media and mobile smartphones. With new tools becoming available each day, staying in touch with loved ones and maximizing our daily productivity has never been easier. Unfortunately, too much technology can lead to feeling burnt out, saddened, anxious, and even depressed with long-term exposure.
Taking time off of tech with a detox and by utilizing apps designed to prevent technology overuse provides various mental and emotional benefits that are essential for a happy and fulfilling life.
Risks of Tech Addiction
Using tech too much can lead to an array of negative emotions. Anxiety, depression, irritability, and even anger can all arise due to an overuse of technology. Receiving push notifications on phones 24/7 causes users to become psychologically addicted to checking updates, messages, and responding back.
Feeling attached to your phone during work hours often leads to overuse in your home life, causing you to feel an increase in anxiety and irritability (especially when spending any amount of time without your phone). When you are unable to attend social events or even maintain focus on a movie in front of you due to your phone, you may have an addiction.
What is a Digital Detox?
Detoxing from tech can be done by eliminating all tech that surrounds you or simply limiting the amount of time you spend using your smartphone or social media each day. Overuse of social media can lead to greater risks of developing serious depression and various forms of anxiety (from panic attacks to GAD, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder). Making the choice to detox from digital devices is not always simple, especially if you find comfort in checking your Facebook, uploading to Instagram, or even scrolling your favorite news sites. Some of the biggest tips to follow when pursuing a digital detox include:
- Designated Use Time – Limit your use of your smartphone or other forms of technology. Set hours in the day when technology is available to you. Avoid using social media during work hours to maximize productivity. Spend time communicating with family and friends in person, rather than solely utilizing instant messaging apps.
- Turn Down the Volume – Always keep your phone set to vibrate during work hours or when spending time with loved ones. Keep your phone in a designated area while participating in hobbies or other enjoyable social activities.
- Go to Bed Alone – Avoid using your smartphone when lying in bed or attempting to sleep. The use of smartphones triggers endorphins, causing you to wake up or feel more alert than necessary when attempting to get a good night’s rest.
Apps That Help You Unplug
While most apps available on the digital marketplace encourage spending hours and real money for premium features, there are a few apps available that help users unplug, relax, and enjoy the world around them.
- Flipd – Flipd is an app that introduces “mindful minutes” spent each day. With its feature “Light Lock”, set a timer to steer clear of your phone while spending time working, socializing, or partaking in hobbies without the use of technology. Flipd also includes a feature that allows you to block access to other apps on your phone for fear of losing out on mindful minutes spent. Anytime the feature is activated and you access an app while it is on, you are alerted of the lost time to remind you of your habits.
- Forest – Forest is an innovative and aesthetically pleasing app that allows users to create a virtual forest. Once you launch the app, you begin by planting a virtual seed which slowly grows and progresses into a fully grown tree. However, if you choose to access another app such as social media or the internet while Forest is running, your forest resets and you must start again. Forest is an optimal app for those seeking a beautiful mindful application that is not packed with notifications or interruptions. With Forest, learn how to remain mindful each time you go to reach for your phone or scroll your social media feed.
- Checky – Checking your phone throughout the day has become commonplace if you are the owner of a smartphone. Checky provides you with the number of times you have checked your phone, allowing you to gain valuable insight into your tech addiction and your need for viewing social apps.
- Offtime – Offtime is an app with a simple purpose; to remind you of the time you spend on your phone each day. Set timers to limit distractions while getting a complete overview of the number of hours you spend browsing your phone during work and at home.
Additional Digital Detox Tips
Along with taking a break from social media and using your smartphone 24/7, there are a few tips to keep in mind to reduce the risk of dabbling in temptation and destructive habits related to technology.
Remove unnecessary apps from your smartphone including “time wasting” games or applications that serve no purpose to your work life or your immediate household and closest friends. Set notifications to vibrate while you are working or spending quality time with loved ones.
Charge your phone in a designated area of your home, excluding your bedroom or where you spend the majority of your time with family. Choosing a designated area to charge your phone provides breathing room when you want to escape technology without the temptation of grabbing your phone on a whim or subconsciously.
Participating in a tech detox and giving yourself some room to breathe and explore alternative facets of life is a highly effective method to remain grounded, focused, and refreshed at all times. Understanding both the pros and cons of using tech is essential in a world that revolves around constant communication and remaining productive. With the right apps and providing yourself some breathing room, bounce back and avoid tech burnouts while working towards both short and long-term goals you have set for yourself.
This is a guest contribution by Heather Redding, a part-time assistant manager, solopreneur and a writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.