Imagine if you will: you are at a restaurant with friends, family or work colleagues; the food is delicious, the conversation is interesting, all-and-all you are having a good time. Then your phone pings. You know the sound; you’re probably hearing it right now. Then what?
You’re reaching for your phone, aren’t you?
Take a minute to think about the time per day you spend on your phone, mobile device or computer? How many times do you check your emails? How often do you reach for your phone even though you know there are no new messages? How often will you visit someone and spend more time on your phone than with them?
You are an addict. Don’t be offended, most of us are.
We even have valid excuses for such behaviour: I need to check up on work, it might be my mom, spouse or child, I’m expecting an important mail, the queue is moving slowly; and before you know it your phone is in your hand more often than not. Falling into this hole is easy, and there are no real victims here, right? Wrong.
The most obvious consequence of digital addiction is car accidents. Not only is it illegal to be on your phone while driving, but it’s also incredibly dangerous, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, you are 23 times more likely to get into a car accident while on the phone. Studies have also found that digital addiction can lead to social and mental disorders, such as depression, and brain damage, such as an increase of abnormal white matter patterns, which disrupts our emotions, decision-making and self-control (similar to drug abuse).
Here are a few ideas on how to go about your digital detox.
Take a hike
Experience life first hand. Reclaim your personal space and privacy by carrying a notebook with you to write down the things you see, your experiences as well as your thoughts instead of posting everything. Go outside, see the world and stock up on some sunny Vitamin D. Being around nature helps you focus and calms you down. Try meditating for a few minutes every day. Simply, sit quietly somewhere serene with your eyes closed, breathing slowly. If you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t play on your phone. The distractions and harsh LED light is the enemy of sleep.
Just think, by leaving your phone safely on a table inside while you and the family enjoy a day outside in the sun, you’ll dramatically reduce the chances of having to put in a cellphone insurance claim for a lost, damaged or stolen phone.
Overcome the distractions by turning your notifications off and keeping your device facedown. Make a commitment to spending time away from your phone, computer, iPad etc. You can even download apps to help you schedule these times. Start with an hour a day or weekend once a month, where you spend time on the things you love. These detox episodes need to happen on a regular basis in order for you to live a healthy digital live.
Talk to people. Reconnect with your loved ones by spending time with them, when you are with them. Make it a rule that phones must be turned off during meal times or visits and the first person to touch theirs is doing the day’s dishes. Some people even go as far as turning off their electronic devices while on holiday. It’s also been proven that by not being on your phone everywhere you go, you drastically improve your chances of meeting new people.
No school like old school
Avoid the temptation where possible. Switch back to a ‘normal’ alarm clock and invest in a watch; stop using your phone to tell the time. Rather wake up to the people in your life than the digital world. Read the pamphlets and the weird magazines in waiting rooms and read books, the paper kind. By reading longer pieces, you enhance your ability to concentrate and complete projects. And please stop using your phone when you go to the bathroom – germs are everywhere.
Being bored is actually a good thing; it leads to creativity.
Time is of the essence; start your digital detox today.