Wellbeing through the Weekend is a blog series which provides tips and personal experiences of ways to improve wellbeing, particularly over the weekend when services might not be available. The idea of the series is to share ideas, and introduce others to the many different ways someone can help themselves, regardless of who they are or what their situation is. If you have any ideas, tips or suggestions for improving wellbeing, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts.
When was the last time you took an extended break from social media, the internet and/or all of your devices? If it’s been a while, or you’re not entirely sure, it might be time for you to take a digital detox. This week’s Wellbeing through the Weekend post is about taking some space from the digital world and focusing on the physical world.
What is a digital detox?
Sometimes it’s really hard to unplug from the rest of the world. The digital world has become such an integral part of our everyday life that often we barely notice that we may be overusing it. I know I certainly overuse my devices. I read the news constantly, I regularly refresh my social media feeds just in case I’ve missed something important, and drift off at the end of the night as Netflix blares through my screen. The point is, it’s sometimes hard to imagine an extended period of time when we’re not plugged into the digital world.
A digital detox allows us to take a break from all of these things. It means switching off our mobiles, smartphones, tablets and laptops, and stepping away from the digital world. It’s a period of screen-free time for you to use on doing something else, and to take a rest. A detox can be however long you like, from 24 hours to longer. For the sake of this post, and the fact that most jobs involve the digital world somewhat, we’ll look to taking a weekend digital detox.
Why is it a good idea to take a digital detox?
Being connected to the digital world can be extremely beneficial in many ways. It allows us to meet and engage with other individuals with similar interests to talk about the things we care about. We are able to learn and read more through the internet, stay in touch with long-distance friends and relatives more easily, and know what’s going on all over the world. These are all positive things, and whilst it’s important to take a break, it’s also good to remember the great advantages of traversing the digital world.
However, overusing digital technology and the internet can cause many issues.
According to the #StatusOfMind report from the Royal Society for Public Health:
“Social media use is linked with increased rates of anxiety, depression and poor sleep” and “cyber bullying is a growing problem with 7 in 10 young people saying they have experienced it.”
Taking a detox gives you a chance to practice mindfulness. Disconnecting and unplugging forces you into the present moment, in your present environment, and to interact with the people around you.
Top tips for a digital detox
- Establish how long the digital detox will last, whether it be a day, the whole weekend or an entire week. Obviously, if you have a job that requires you to use digital devices, a week may not be possible, but it is important to establish to yourself
- Turn off notifications from all social media apps on your phone during this time to avoid receiving notifications.
- Set an out-of-office reply on your emails over the weekend to make sure that anyone that contacts you knows that you are unplugging for the weekend.
- Let friends and family know what you are planning to do, so they know it may be harder to reach you than it is normally.
- Plan your weekend: if you’re spending the weekend on a digital detox, it’s really important to make sure you have plenty of things you can be doing. Whether that be taking a long walk out in the countryside by yourself or with family/friends, picking a book from the pile you’ve stacked on your bedside table to read, meeting some friends for coffee, or heading out to see some live music, the idea is immerse yourself in the physical world.
- If you’re meeting friends, why not set up a phone amnesty bag to make it a digital free zone? This is a tried and tested method by myself and my friends on Christmas Eve, and as long as you ensure there are penalties for breaking the rules such as buying the next coffee, it’s a method that’s generally stuck to pretty rigidly
- Go somewhere new, or try something new. Having a new experience is a great way to embed yourself in the physical world.
- Take this time to really work on the five ways to wellbeing: connect to others, be active, take notice of your surroundings, keep learning new things, and give to others.