Our lives have become gradually more intertwined with technology over the last two decades, so it’s easy to see why many people can be left feeling overwhelmed by the growing digital dimension in our lives.

We are constantly connected and contactable, with most of us picking up our phone over 55 times a day and the UK average social media usage now at almost 2 hours a day. That’s not even taking into account the screen time most of us experience for work. Enter, the digital detox – a method of resetting and redefining how we interact with the digital space.

What is a digital detox?

As the name would suggest, a digital detox programme is a way of cleansing your brain and body from a reliance on digital media and your devices all together. Typically, you swap digital experiences for physical alternatives, such as reconnecting with people face to face, attending physical events, or venturing into nature for extended periods of time – but it really is up to you how you want to approach it.

Reasons to do a digital detox

Digital content like social media, streaming platforms, video games and beyond can leave many feeling jacked into the online realm almost 24/7. Many work on screens, then go home to spend more time watching or scrolling through them.

Breaking the cycle and disconnecting from the digital sphere can be incredibly appealing to those who feel screen time is linked to:

  • General burnout (from work or otherwise)
  • Overstimulation in their personal life (exhausted at being connected all the time)
  • Obligated to consume and respond to online content
  • Low mood, irritability, and insecurity

What are the benefits of a digital detox?

If you’re someone who is more benefit-led and are wondering what you can get out of doing a digital detox, here are a few of the general benefits people can experience – although it’s important to note that its effectiveness and results vary from how you approach your detox:

  • Reduce stress
  • Less isolation or FOMO driven by social content
  • Improve sleep habits (screen time before bed can be detrimental to sleep)
  • Becoming less dependent on digital media for escapism/instant gratification
  • More time to develop skills and hobbies
  • Less distracted and greater sense of mindfulness

How to go on a digital detox

There’s no one-size-fits-all method of doing a digital detox. You’ll need to set your own digital detox rules based on how strict you want to be with yourself and how big of a disconnect you want to experience.

The main aim of doing a digital detox is to break your usual habits – whether those are conscious or subconscious choices – so you can make purposeful changes to your lifestyle. If it takes something drastic to shift those habits, then so be it!

General digital detox rules

We’ve detailed some of the standard digital detox methods that people use to help curb their phone usage and screen time. You can use these, tweak them, and add in your own to find something that works for you.

  1. Avoid screen time before bed: Blue light from screens can mess with your sleep, so try not to use them in the 90 minutes before bed. Try to switch up your routine.
  2. Configure your devices: Most devices have built-in features to limit screen time, as well as Do Not Disturb settings to prevent notifications from nagging for attention.
  3. Set tech-free hours: Take regular breaks from your devices where you can – lunchtimes, commutes, Sunday mornings – whatever is attainable for you.
  4. Try the 1:1:1 method: This method encourages you to step away from your devices one hour a day (before bed), one afternoon/evening a week, and one week a year.
  5. Keep your device out of sight: Putting your devices in a drawer, box or other room helps take them off your mind – freeing you up to focus on other tasks.
  6. Set goals: Minimising your device time can be easier if you’re using that time working towards something else. If there’s a hobby or skill you’re looking to get better at, set yourself an amount of time per day/week on that instead.

Activities for switching off

We’ve mentioned a few ideas for digital detox activities that get you out of the digital world and firmly into the physical, but here are three key ones that can make you feel more grounded and mindful when taking on your digital detox challenge.

Explore the outdoors

Take a step out of your front door and venture into the wide world – it’s good for your brain! There are a wide range of local nature spots and national parks in the UK that provide easy access to gorgeous green spaces, wonderful woodlands, and helpful hiking trails.

Dive into a book

Whether you’re an avid reader or novel novice, books are fantastic tools for escaping into stories or learning new skills. There are plenty of local library services across the UK to borrow books without spending a penny (or ask friends if they have any they’d lend).

Spend time with friends and family

Arrange a coffee and a catch-up, meet up to sit in a garden, invite them for dinner, or simply go on a walk together – the main thing is to take your interactions offline and spend some quality time with your loved ones.

If you feel that you need something a little more enforced or far from home that takes you out of your usual routine, there are also digital detox retreats in the UK which put you at the heart of natural beauty spots – like Unplugged, who put an emphasis on sustainability as well as disconnecting. If you feel a stay somewhere remote would benefit you, then knock a little of that cost down using our paid online surveys to earn rewards while you’re feeling more digitally active.

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