The digital excess is clearly here, and we need to catch our breaths. We are on screens all the time. Indians spend an average of 1,800 hours on their phones annually. While the internet has made information ever available, brought the world in one place, and made unthought-of possibilities real; the negative consequences are anything far from dire. Digital life is not just all-consuming and ever-present, it is also thoroughly distracting and stressful. A digital detox is a great way to help create a synergistic balance between our real and virtual lives.
Here are a few simple tips on how to do a digital detox to make your online and offline lives richer:
Pick a getaway, slightly far from your daily movement patterns of home-work-gym-diner and leave your phone behind. Our screens have engaged us so deeply in the virtual world- where we socialize, work, entertain ourselves, and shop, that all places seem the same unless you really cleanse them of devices. Digital overdose needs us to get out of our everyday spaces, explore and refresh ourselves out of staleness.
Regain your sense of security
One of the most deeply troubling effects of being constantly connected is the assumption that we shall be insecure without our phones. Dependence on the internet and quick information have made us feel lost without navigation, insecure in our inability to reach people and generally unsafe in the world. But studies show that most of this danger is only imagined and navigating the world without our phones will change the way we experience our lives and help regain freedom and our sense of security. This reinstalls confidence in life without constant dependence on our devices.
Take your entertainment off your phone
It is important to delink entertainment from technological devices. Even if you’re bored, don’t scroll through the endlessness of your Instagram or Facebook feeds because guess what, it’s designed to keep you on the website endlessly. Seek your entertainment outside your screens- in conversations, or meeting with friends for lunch.
Don't be always available for work
When did you last feel you took a real break? Be unavailable at post-work hours when you do not want to be reached by your boss or clients. Owing to devices, we carry our work with us all the time, not just literally, but also mentally. Simply, this translates into constant unbroken work stress. Switch off your work email or phone number once you’re off work to get a psychological sense of having done your job for the day and let your hair down. Next morning, start afresh.
Go on a digital fast
Simple in principle, hard to apply. But breaking the consumption cycle for anything, including your digital diet will make you take a fresh perspective on your life- real and virtual. Getting off your devices for a few days consciously will help you realize how you spend your time on them, realize the importance of things you may be missing out on in life, and most importantly, help you see what’s really on your mind.
What’s on your wish list?
Take an art class, learn an instrument, do pottery. Find a hobby you enjoy. Go back to the wish-list you used to have before all our choices got trapped in our phones. Moreover, doing physical activities or working with your hands will not only de-clutter your mind and bust stress but also make you feel more grounded and present.
Craft some quality family time
Digital addiction is a problem that affects adults and children in the family differently, along with collectively reducing quality family time. When was the last time you sat across from your partner or with your kids, sans phones and had a chat about their lives or listened to a favourite song? Studies show that the impact that devices have on children affect not just their eyesight or their memory, but also their behavioural traits and emotional growth. Investing in family time is important for healthy relationships at home.
Use apps that help you focus
A set of new apps emerged out of Silicon Valley as geeks realized the havoc digital distractions were causing users. These apps are available for helping you focus by locking your phone for you, organizing your app usage and telling you how much time you’ve spent on your screen. Use an app like Forest that blocks your phone access off for the duration you want to work for, and makes your distractions unreachable. It will itch at first, but enhance your creativity over time. Try Forest, Freedom or Noisli.
Okay, I know this is a cliché, but meditation is a great way to clear your head and regain your focus. As attention spans decline below those of a goldfish (it's true, I kid you not), excellence can only be pursued if we learn to get our focus back and keep at things without getting distracted constantly. Yoga in general and meditation in particular help build attention and reduce the stress that we pile up each day.
Eat without electronics
Eating with a screen in front of you not only hampers digestion, but it also makes you less aware of how much you eat and miscalculate your portions. Get off your screen while you eat and pay greater attention to your meal, its taste & texture, how your body feels and how much you need to consume.
Have a no-phone zone in your house
Keep a small space in your house an electronics-free zone. You'll be surprised how often you'll feel like going in and leaving the chatter of the world, colleagues, friends, Instagram celebrities behind and help you spend some time by yourself.
One of the things that spike our stress levels is the fact that we see our phones first thing in the morning and are up till 2 am scrolling our news feeds. A great way to sleep well and fix bio-rhythms for good health is to keep the phone away from you well before you hit the bed. This helps the brain signal the end of the day and relaxes your body. Use a traditional, or quirky alarm clock to wake yourself up in the morning and avoid the screen as your first visual engagement in a day. Instead, wake up, do a bit of your routine and then get to your mobile.