Community//

Why You Should Do A Digital Detox for Your Mental Health

Take a break from online noise and to calm your mind and reclaim your time.

Do a Digital Detox

I had to drop off the internet for a bit. Why? Well, I was beginning to feel as if I was permanently attached to my computer. And, in fact, I was on my computer so much that I wore out my “e” and “s” keys!

So, I decided that it was high time for a digital detox. I’d been thinking about taking one for a long time, but let’s be honest here ladies, my internet addiction is real. I thought I would wither away and crumple up without my beloved Instagram and my blog.

But, instead of crumpling up and withering away, it gave me the time and space I needed to look at my life objectively and make some big decisions on what I want and where I’m going. All good things, my friends. 

I know it probably seems as impossible to you to complete a digital detox as it was for me, but I promise you, once you get through the early withdrawal symptoms, you’ll actually appreciate your detox. Computers, phones, and tablets, TVs and the like are so much a part of our daily lives, that we don’t know how to function properly without them. And, if you are anything like me, scrolling mindlessly through social media is your go-to way to numb out and ignore your non-digital–AKA real-life–duties.

But as with any addiction, you might think that you’re enjoying your time spend doing it more than you actually are. Studies show that over-indulging in technology and online activities bombards your brain with an excess of information, contributing to higher levels of anxiety and stress. And, much of the information we take in from social media the mental equivalence to single-use plastics—one and done. You know what I mean, you read a hundred and two Facebook updates, and ten seconds later, you can’t remember who got the new puppy, and who cooked pork chops for dinner. You read five different articles on the same subject, all with wildly different “hot takes.” And maybe, just maybe, you spent 20 minutes taking a quiz to find out what cheese you’d be if you were born a dairy product.

You see? It’s all one and done. But still, all this scrolling and skimming uses up brain power and energy that you could be saving for bigger and better things. 

Doing a Digital Detox will Help You Gage How Much Time You Spend Online Instead of Living Life

Admit it, you wake up and reach for your phone either right before, or right after you to run to the little girls’ room. For most of us, our alarm clock is our phone. Most of us constantly check out phone throughout the day. I, for one, work online, and I have my phone with me at all times, so I literally spend most of my day going from one screen to another. In fact, Americans across all age groups are checking their phones more and more. According to a study on phone usage, completed by Deloitte, Americans collectively check their phone 8 billion times a day.

Crazy pants.

If you are resonating with everything I’ve said above. Consider taking a social media and tech break.

1. Make a List of Your Tech Devices and Time Spent on Them

I promise you this will be an eye opener. Take a few moments to make a complete list every digitalized item connected to your life. Be honest with yourself and write down how much time you spend on each of those devices a day. Then do the math and see how much time you spend on them in a week, month, and year.

If you are honest, your numbers will more than likely be shocking. 

If you have an iPhone, you can check your screen time on the Screen Time app. It was not unusual for mine to show 2.5 hours of screen time, on just my phone, per day.

That’s:

2.5 hours a day

17.5 hours a week

70 hours a month

840 hours a year

Imagine what I could have done with an extra 840 hours last year! And that’s just my phone. That’s not counting my computer, TV, iPad, etc.

If we limit ourselves to certain items, we will have more opportunity to de-clutter our mind and move forward with a digital detox.

2. Make your “If I Had the Time” Wish List

Make a list of all the things you always say you’d do if you had the time. Because, guess what? Yep, you are about to have some newfound time on your hands. 

Ideas for all your brand-new, digital-free time:

1.   Exercising

2.   Reading quality fiction or non-fiction 

3.   Talking to family and friends by using your actual voice and not text messages

4.   Completing a project on your to-do list.

5.   Having a mini-staycation or road trip with your partner, children, or on your own (that sounds heavenly)

6.   Working on your side hustle

7.   Indulging in some much-needed self-care

8.   Taking a nap

9.   Learning to mediate

10. Doing nothing but enjoying some fresh air and being in the moment.

3. Decide on Your Daily Allowance

Let’s get real here, you will still have to use your devices sometimes. I’m not asking you to get all 1950s up in here. We are scaling back, way back; but have no fear, you can still track your teenagers on their phones, pay your bills online, and yes, even text your friend to meet you at a happy hour.

Taking a good hard look at your list of digital devices, allocate a certain amount of time for each device. Ask yourself what’s the bare minimum amount of time you can spend on each device without sacrificing convenience, safety, and online work obligations. By minimizing the time, you use technology, you will find more time for yourself. You will be able to focus on the real world and your purpose. 

4. Decide on the Length of Your Digital Detox

When I started my digital detox, I decided that 2 weeks would be the perfect length of time to implement and follow through with my digital detox. I was convinced that I wouldn’t make it past the first day. But, actually, as it turned out, I needed a lot more time than that. In the end, I took 8 weeks. 

I knew that if I broke out of my digital detox after only 2 weeks, I would go right back to my old habits, so I decided to stick it out a bit longer. At that point, I still didn’t think that I’d go a full 8 weeks! But, in the end, this is what my brain and soul were telling me that they needed. Always check in with your brain and soul. They are constantly telling you what they need, but sometimes it’s hard to hear them over the constant yammering of everyday life. Participating in a digital detox will help quiet a lot of that yammering and give you a chance to really listen to yourself.

5. Use This Time to Analyze How You are Feeling and What You are Accomplishing on Your Digital Detox

Spend a few minutes a couple of times a day to check in with yourself and analyze how you are feeling and what you are accomplishes during your digital detox. I do this in the morning and in the evening as part of my Bullet Journaling. 

You will likely notice that you feel calmer and less distracted now that you spend less time numbing out on social media. You will likely be consuming less worrisome news. And your attention span and ability to focus should also be improving. 

Write down all the things you are doing with the time you used to spend staring at a screen. Once you start writing down and seeing what you can accomplish with all that time, it becomes empowering and addictive. 

Like I said, friends…all good things.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.