Gluten detox? Check. Skincare detox? Done it. Digital detox? Hmmm… I’m gonna need to get back to you on that one. The other day I was at dinner with a wise friend who also happens to be a nurse, and I confided that I’ve been having some issues with insomnia lately (should that be a post?) We talked about the detrimental effects of screen time on our sleep patterns, and she asked me how long it had been since I’d detoxed from all my devices for at least a couple days. After thinking about it for a few minutes, I realized that the last time I turned off my phone for more than a few hours was on my honeymoon 6 years and 2 babies ago. I couldn’t believe it, and it got me wondering if I’m long overdue for a break. I’ve gotten so used to having instant info at my fingertips at all times that answering pings from incoming emails, scrolling through my Instagram feed, and being constantly on-call are behaviors that have become second nature. Have any of you taken a digital detox, and if so — how was it? Did you go through withdrawals… and was it a positive thing in the end? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments, and in preparation for my own time offline when we go to Miami in a couple weeks, I’ve been logging some advice from the experts. Below are 5 tips I’ll be implementing…
- Discover what you hope to get out of your digital detox. Is your goal stress-relief, undistracted time with your family/friends, an opportunity to think and reset, improved sleep, or a break from all the hurry of daily life? Determine your priorities, then make plans accordingly. When your day involves hanging out with people you love, cooking a great meal, reading a book, going for a walk, or taking a trip somewhere new, it makes it much less likely that you’re going to be wishing you were scrolling through Instagram.
- Do some advance prep. Since the goal is to avoid as much anxiety as possible while on your digital detox, set expectations by letting people know that you’re going to be offline and unavailable. You can also provide a use-only-in-case-of-emergency number, which may help you resist the urge to check “just in case.”
- Be ready for withdrawals. I’ve heard that symptoms may include boredom, anxiety, or just a strong urge to look at your phone. Hang in there and resist the temptation; after a few hours, the feelings should subside and you can actually start to enjoy the feeling of not being connected.
- Embrace missing out. Instead of giving in to FOMO, why not allow yourself to actually enjoy missing out on the requests and demands of others, especially since when you do plug in again, you most likely won’t have missed out on anything significant at all. Unplugging allows you to set your own schedule and be the author of your own thoughts – which sounds pretty damn awesome to me.
- Make friends with boredom. Most of us have become so unaccustomed to ever having a lull in our schedules that we haven’t had a moment of boredom in ages. But did you know that having quiet time — walking down the street and engaging with what’s around us without looking at our phones; eating a meal and savoring the our food without needing any kind of digital distraction — can be one of the greatest opportunity for creative thinking or key epiphanies? Try letting your mind wander and just watch where it takes you.
I’ve got to admit that the idea of unplugging seems a little scary… and even a tad irresponsible? I mean, my entire career lives squarely in the digital space, and I also feel the need to be on call in case my kids need me, so a part of me feels like it’s just not doable to take a digital detox regularly. But there’s also a part of me that wonders if the fact that it’s so difficult for me to disconnect is also the reason why it’s so crucial that I find a way to do it. We’ll soon see! My 3 1/2 day experiment kicks off in a couple weeks when we hop a flight with a few friends for a weekend trip to Miami. The idea of soaking up the sun, listening to the waves crash, and burying myself in a great read without any iPhone interruptions sounds positively blissful right now — I’ll let you know how it goes post-trip.