The Digital Detox

The Digital Detox

Nowadays, it turns out that there may be an additional toxin beyond those found in your food, air, water or soil. This is the negative, potentially harmful effect of your digital tether.

Adding a digital detox to your life could be as important as keeping your body physically clean. It is a way to re-boot your mind that has been highjacked by a world reliant on cell phones and computers. All it takes is some easy steps to make sure you don’t end up with cognitive overload that could lead to a variety of mental as well as physical health challenges.

The Double Edged Digital Sword

It can be difficult to remain off the grid when it comes to integrating into society. Everything from shopping, paying bills, and banking to transport, dating and overall communication is dependent upon the digital infrastructure. Yet, some are concerned whether it is healthy for humans to constantly be tied to their electronic devices.

Millions are plugged in at any given time with a recent Gallup Poll of 15,747 members reporting that:

  • 52% of smartphone owners check it a few times an hour or more
  • Young Americans are the most frequent smartphone checkers
  • Most Americans have smartphone by them all day, many all night

This kind of attention to a flickering screen is beginning to show potential health concerns making some question digital devices as being a convenience or an addiction.

Taking Over Your Health

It has been a short time that humans have been utilizing digital devices and yet study after study show a long list of potential, peripheral health threats. These are a few clinical study results that are making more health practitioners consider recommending a digital detox program.

  • Sleep – Harvard Medical School scientists found that using a cell phone or laptop before bed can disrupt the body’s production of melatonin and negatively affect sleep quality.
  • Social Media Depression – A study published by the Public Library of Science found the more time a person spends on Facebook, the more dissatisfied they ultimately feel with their own life.
  • Brain – An article in Psychology Today (12/4/12) says that the use of technology can alter the actual wiring of the brain.
  • Obesity – Researchers project that trends in physical activity levels will decrease and sedentary time will increase by 2020 and 2030 if we continue at the [digital] rate we’re going.

Walk Away with These Easy Digital Detox Steps

It may be easier for some than others to learn to digitally detox but the overall effects could be highly beneficial. At first you may suffer from things like phantom phone syndrome which is when you feel like your device is vibrating or even ringing when it is nowhere near you. However, these digital side effects will dissipate quickly.

Here are some easy digital detox steps you may want to utilize at least once per week or more. Choose one or more as a challenge and then take note of how you are effected. Note: These steps apply to cell phones as well as computers. It is also recommended during your digital detox to avoid watching television as much as possible.

  • Unplug – Shut off or lock away your device starting with fifteen minutes and working your way up to an hour or more (maybe even an entire day)
  • Exit – Leave your home without your phone for short periods of time
  • Sleep – Shut off or place your device in another room when you sleep
  • Wake – In the morning, avoid checking your device until you’re awake for at least an hour
  • Non-Digital Connect – Meet people face to face and ask them to not bring their device as well
  • Non-Digital Activity – Cook, read, listen to music, play a board game, construct a puzzle, build a model, or choose any non-digital activity for at least one hour without checking your device
  • Meditate – Sit in a quiet, uninterrupted space for fifteen minutes working your way up to an hour or more while the whole time taking deep breathes in your nose and out your mouth
  • Ground – Walk amongst nature without your device
  • Touch – Receive and/or give a massage without your device anywhere nearby
  • Emergency concern – Some people worry about not being able to handle an emergency if they are not digitally connected. This can be alleviated by alerting your job or those close to you of your digital detox downtime and giving them other means of contacting you such as a land line phone you may be near, significant other or neighbor’s number

You don’t have to be a slave to the rapidly moving often stressful digital highway. Take the time to digitally detox and you may discover many non-digital opportunities you would have otherwise missed out on such as human interaction.