Digital Detox for Well-Being

Tips and tricks to curb device obsession

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nomophobianomobile-phone-phobia. The fear of not having your phone with you. Word of the year in 2018 (Source: Cambridge Dictionary)

Over the summer, I took a four day “hard reset” where I completely disconnected from the world. No internet, no phone, no computer, no fitness tracker… really no connection to electronics. Shockingly, the world did not end. Everyone managed to find a way to adjust and I survived the experience. Even better than surviving, I learned that there is a peace and benefit from disconnecting to reconnect.

The hard facts are pretty scary when it comes to cell phone addiction and usage:

·        It is anticipated that 2 out of 3 people in the United States are considered to be addicted to cell phone usage.

·        According to the UN, globally more people have access to cell phones than to toilets.

·        Similarly, more people have access to cell phones than the number of people who own toothbrushes.

·        According to Psychology Today, 20% of people would rather give up their shoes than give up their cellphones.

While we can’t always disconnect entirely, we can make better choices about when to connect and how to connect. To help create some healthier habits, here are a few key tips to have everyday limits on your mobile phone usage.

1.     Create boundaries for your daily digital life

Set specific times of day when tech is off limits. You can set your device to go into airplane mode or set a “bedtime” when you won’t get notifications. There are two places you can start focusing restrictions:

–         The Home (Living Room and Dining Room)

Your phone is not a utensil and is certainly not required to eat. It also isn’t a way to socialize in the same room with people. So, put the device away and enjoy both the conversations and the meal itself. (And in case you need extra incentive, studies show that about 75% of people take their phones into the bathroom with them. You wouldn’t bring your toilet to the table for dinner… so ditch the phone for meals.)

–         At Work

One of the major distractions during the day is picking up the cell phone. Whether it is to avoid the feeling of boredom or to review notifications, mobile devices can be a major distraction from the work at hand. Super users of cell phones have been known to touch their device thousands of times a day! So, set aside the phone and identify specific times to check in rather than having the device dictate your schedule.

2.     Turn off your notifications

Turn off your push notifications. If you can’t turn off all of them, turn off the majority. This not only limits distractions, but it also allows you to focus and conserves battery life. Since responding to notifications can be a bit Pavlovian, limiting the stimulus will reduce your stress and anxiety.

3.     Shut down for your evening routine (and the start of your day)

Spend the first hour and last hour of your waking time device free. Start the day without the distraction of your mobile device. Enjoy the pace of getting started without the overwhelm of to dos. The last hour of the day should also be a technology free zone, as you prepare yourself physically and mentally to rest. It is well known that blue light interrupts normal circadian sleep rhythms, so removing devices before bedtime will also help you more easily and naturally fall asleep. (And get an old fashioned alarm clock to avoid having your phone in the bedroom.)

By adopting one or more of these tips, you can find your way to a healthier and happier relationship with your mobile device.

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