Technology has made its increasingly abundant and persistent appearance in the past decades – and many times it is all too easy to fall for the convenience and relative simplicity of its use. After all, there is a learned desire to stay connected at the push of a button…
Let’s start with the biggest digital time-consuming culprit – smart phones. Smart phones are portrayed as a “must have”, if you want to stay up-to-date with the rest of society.
But what if you don’t care about showing off the latest model, or downloading the latest app, or thumbing the next mind-numbing game? Or what if your phone ends up owning you, and you spend so much time on it that it is a source of stress and anxiety?
Do you feel that you are missing out on a meaningful life when you are constantly online? Answer that honestly and keep reading on.
In a world of beeps, alarms and push notifications it is reassuring to know that nature still knows what the perfect sense of quiet is. And if you walk long enough, and far enough, away from the busyness of the city, then you can find the soothing and restful undisturbed sounds of nature too.
Imagine the wind that rustles the leaves before a storm, the chatter of crickets at dusk, or the singing of song birds in the early morn…
If you ever find that the presence of social media is running your life, dictating your time spent online and occasionally making you a bit irritable – then a digital detox is in order, right now!
You can go about it in different ways, but the key to making a digital detox work for you, is to become inaccessible. When you can reach that stage of gadget-free solitude, then you can relax, unwind and restore yourself. Beyond everything, you need updates too.
You can look at creating quality screen-free time in three distinct stages.
Digital detox for beginners:
At this stage you may simply ask for an hour or two a day (early morning or before bed) with your phone turned off. Not muted, or with the volume lowered… Completely turned off and unreachable, as if you lost the virtual connection wandering into a vast forest. Keep in mind that even an hour of solitude and calm can be worth an entire night’s deep sleep.
Intermediate digital detox:
An entire weekend without your phone/laptop/iPad will help put your desire to constantly check your email at ease. Urgency is a fear to let go of – you are not missing a single thing online if you choose to take some time off. In fact, you may find yourself actively involved in a physical experience, with real people, which you can talk about and share when you return to the digital world.
Advanced digital detox:
With experience, you are ready for an entire week of a distraction-free retreat, candles optional. One of the best ways to recharge your own batteries is to roam out in the countryside and take a walk among the trees or in the knee-high grass. Go wild swimming and remember what it feels like to be human/animal again. Let go of the expectations to connect with others (and always be accessible!) and reconnect to the healing powers of the Earth instead. What better way to do it, than with like-minded company – as in a digital detox workshop?!
In the beginning, you may have some self-doubt, and want to check-in, just to make sure you are not missing out. It is a habit that needs to be broken and replaced with something much healthier for your mind, body and spirit.
The more time(s) you intentionally make space for a digital detox, the easier it gets.
Here’s how to make a digital detox work for you:
- Write down your goals and stick to them! If it is an entire weekend without FB, then make sure it is a 2 full days that you are logged out of your account, no cheating. If you want your bedroom to become a tech-free zone, then don’t take your phone to bed with you. Easier said than done, we know, but having goals makes it easier to stick to.
- Let people know ahead of schedule that you cannot be reached from “X” to “Y” time, only if absolutely necessary (this may depend on the length of your digital detox). You will answer your calls and emails when you return, and in the meantime you will be enjoying the company of yourself and others.
- It’s okay to feel bored. Digital detox is what it suggests, it is a form of withdrawal and your body needs time to readjust to a slower rhythm. Sit and do nothing, take a nap, read a book, cook a wholesome meal from scratch. Take the essential time to slow down and focus on self-care.
- Get outside – find fresh air, inhale, exhale, repeat. Discover a patch of healthy ground and take your shoes and socks off, hug a tree if it seems inviting… Do what you have to do to get closer to nature, be it in a public park, your backyard or garden, the beach or arboretum. You may or may not be alone, but you are far from online drama, and that is all what matters.
You may have the inclination to believe that it is far easier for adults, than children, to do a proper digital detox, though that is only true to some extent. For many grownups it is quite painful to be more than an arms reach distance from their smart device.
Naturally, kids have more distractions from electronics, namely school and sports, but digital devices are creeping even into classrooms and out onto the playing fields.
Electronics take away from the value of friendships and engaging communication that can be had with face-to-face contact. Think about how contagious laughter can be, it is an emotion that is hard to share via pictures and words, and yet, somehow, laughter is essential to life.
Digital detox is truly for anyone and everyone at any age, children included!
Kids do not need to be playing video games all day, just because they ask for, or demand them. If they fuss or get irritable when you take them away, that is but one sign of not being able to detach from a potentially harmful activity.
Devices cannot and should not replace human contact and attention. Do not use them as a full-time babysitter – just because it is a physically safe activity (as opposed to the perceived risk of climbing a tree), it doesn’t mean there is no danger lurking behind the screen.
So, gather your family members up and experience a digital detox together! It is guaranteed to be the most memorable time you have spent in ages.
How far, and for how long, are you willing to go without technology? We’d love for you to share your digital detox experiences in the comments below!
Download your copy of a Digital Detox Guide to Freedom right here!