Is A Digital Detox Good For Your Mental Health?
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If you’re wondering whether it’s time to take a social media detox and spend time away from your digital devices to improve your mental health, then stick with us.
We’ll be explaining the impacts technology and the digital world can have on our wellbeing, as well as how you can take a digital detox and the positive impacts taking a step back can have on our day-to-day life.
What Is A Digital Detox?
A digital detox refers to taking a break from our devices for a brief period of time. In this digital age it’s quite normal to use tech on a daily basis and be ‘plugged in’ especially for gen-z, and there is an immense number of positives that are present thanks to technology and social media.
We’re all guilty of using our devices consistently on a daily basis, they even wake us up in the morning, they remind us to do certain tasks and they keep us connected with friends and family.
However, it can easily become an addictive behaviour to be in front of a screen all the time, and it can have a big impact on your mental well-being. You may have a technology addiction if you feel compelled to look at social media apps for hours on end, you have a really high screen time and feel an attachment or feel ‘glued’ to your devices.
If you feel like this is the case for you or if there is any other reasons the digital world is starting to impact upon your wellbeing, then it might be time you tried a detox from your phones, laptop, iPad or any other digital device and social media platforms.
No matter what the reason is, you can give up your devices and social media access from anywhere between a few hours, to a few days to a few weeks and so on to see what the benefits are. Find out below the impacts the digital world can have upon our mental health as well as how to do a digital detox.
Why A Digital Detox Is Good
As we’ve stated earlier, for a large amount of us, being connected and tuning into the digital world is a common part of our life. It’s something we’re so used to using and it’s easy to spend hours and hours In-front of a screen, especially scrolling through videos on TikTok or seeing what content your mates have shared on Instagram or checking in on family on Facebook.
According to one study, adults in the UK spend an average of four and a half hours per day using their mobile devices, in the grand scheme of things, that figure isn’t too bad.
However, other research shows that an average of 61% of people admit they’re addicted to the internet and their digital screens. So, there’s definitely some who spend a lot longer than four and a half hours on their phone and have a toxic connection with the digital landscape. if you’re a victim to a suuuper high screen time, then you’ll know from checking your settings and daily activity on your phone.
Regardless of your exact screen time, there are tons of reasons why you want to give up your devices for a period of time, whether it’s wanting more time to yourself and with others without your devices, you might feel stressed from watching the news or other television programmes too often, you may feel that social media is a highlight reel and you’re comparing yourself to others or you may be eager to focus more of your time on your hobbies and interests.
Whatever your reason being is, its valid and great that you want to take the step to step back from the constant connection to your digital devices and social media. After all, there are a vast array of negatives of excessive use of technology and media platforms which include:
- Disrupted sleeping patterns
- An impact on work/life balance
- Depressed mood
- Low self esteem
- High anxiety / stress levels
- Feeling obligated to consume content or ‘check in’ with people
- Effect on social interactions – Communicating mostly through social channels
- Frustration over posted content – Comparing yourself to others, feeling like you’re missing out (FOMO) or feeling lonely
- Cyberbullying – Verbal abuse or toxic comments on the internet
One study found that there are harmful effects of using digital technology too much and too often, which include heightened ADHD symptoms, impacts upon emotional and social intelligence, social isolation, impaired brain development, and disrupted sleep cycles.
So, as you can see, high digital media use has its fair share of concerns on our wellbeing and daily life. If you’re ready to take the step to detoxification, then keep reading to find out how you can do it through our helpful steps.
How To Do A Digital Detox
There are many ways you can make a digital detox work for you and your lifestyle whether it’s giving up all your devices for a few days or few hours, whatever the time frame you want to focus on restricting your digital usage, you can do it with our help!
Some people may find that giving up their devices is a walk in the park, whilst others may find it difficult to make the transition, so don’t be hard on yourself and start small if you do want to disconnect.
Here’s our 6 steps to taking a digital detox to try to improve your wellbeing and daily life.
1. Think About Why You’re Detoxing
Firstly, you need to think about why you want to be disconnected, is it because you’ve got a toxic relationship with social media and spend too long scrolling through content you see? Is it because you’re spending all your time online playing games with people rather than getting out the house?
No matter why you want to detox, you should remember your reasoning as the end goal will be clearer and easier to achieve if you know what you want out of it – what is the bigger picture?!
You could even write down why you’ve came to the decision and the impacts it has had on your wellbeing to remind yourself and stay on track.
2. Remember To Be Realistic
Disconnecting from your devices and social media should be something that works for your schedule and your life.
If you’re a student who likes to stay in touch with family or friends at home, or you use your laptop to study or watch Netflix in bed or plays games, then it will be hard to completely detox and it may have a negative impact on your wellbeing if you shut off your usage completely.
Instead, try doing a mini-detox and choose a time frame you want to turn off from your devices, make the detox work for you!
You could start by giving up all digital devices or a few of your devices for a whole day and see how it feels, then if you want to continue or detox completely, you’ve made a gradual transition rather than unplugging straight away as it will be more difficult.
3. Think About The Timing
As we have mentioned, being realistic with a digital detox is important and so is planning when to unplug your devices.
Although you may want to start your digital detox ASAP, you should think about the timing first. Such as, you don’t want to plan your time away from your devices during a busy period like exam season if you normally receive updates online about work or if you normally confide in your course mates on social media.
So, it’s important to pick a time frame when you have less going on and less consequences that could arise from missing out on an update or important message!
4. Set Limits On Your Devices
If you’re constantly checking your devices and find it hard to resist the urge to reply to a message or make a post, you can set downtime or app limits on your phone settings to help you out.
It can be hard to take control of the time you spend online, and if we’re being honest, we find it hard to just simply take a step back too, but if you make the most of these settings, you’ll help limit your screen time.
There are also other helpful resources and apps that you can utilise for a digital break, like The Space App which aims to help people get a phone/life balance by thinking about how you use your phone and how it affects your life.
5. Let People Know You’re Taking A Break
It’s important to let your friends and family know that you are on a digital detox, especially if you’re away from home.
This is because if you’re someone who connects with your loved ones online, they may start to worry if you’ve not answered their messages for a few days and it can seem a bit out of the blue.
Instead, let the people closest to you know that you’re taking a break from your devices and social media for your wellbeing and to see if there are any improvements from stepping back and unplugging.
They’ll be able to support you and offer you some advice if you’re struggling too.
6. Keep Yourself Busy
Keep yourself active and put your devices out of reach so you’re not tempted to keep checking them, after all, out of sight out of mind!
You can even turn your devices off or put your phone or laptop in airplane mode if you’re going to find it hard to resist checking your notifications and tuning back in.
Taking time away from your devices means you will have more time for yourself so you can take up new hobbies or interests, go out with friends or family or visit some new places.
If you’d normally spend hours of your day on your device, then you should have distractions in place to make breaking the habit easier, and more fun!
Ensuring you unwind is also important if tech is an important part of your life, you need to make sure you’re replacing the comfort that your devices can bring you, such as if you enjoy sitting and watching videos online replace it with an activity like reading a book or trying a new recipe.
Finally, it’s important to evaluate how your digital detox went if you do try to disconnect, was it good for your mental health or did it make you feel worse? Think about the overall result and the impact it had on you and your life.
Good luck if you’re planning to digitally detox and reduce your technology use within your student flat, you can do it! Not to mention, our student accommodation properties have fantastic social spaces so you’ll find taking that break much easier when you stay with us.