The Digital Detox

How often have you decided to keep your phone away? Tried to put the phone on ‘do not disturb’ or maybe keep it in another room? Our houses and workplaces are filled with gadgets and they are more like companions to us than just another luxury or aid for our work or entertainment.  If we are not working on our laptops, we are surfing on mobile phones or watching some shows on our tv screens.

Let’s be honest with ourselves. Think to yourself and remember the longest time you did not have a device involved in between your conversations. It’s probably not a very long time (unless you are stuck in a never-ending meeting). And trust me, we always have a very genuine reason to turn to our Google guru.

We might not see this very clearly, but these digital devices are quite intrusive in our lives. Today I would like to point out a few of these and maybe a few things to get control over them rather than the other way around.

1.      The phone has become a wall between you and your people rather than a bridge- As I said earlier, how often do we pick up our phone in the middle of a conversation, regardless of whether it is about the conversation or otherwise. Many of us rely on our devices to get ourselves away from those awkward group conversations. Many times, with the ding of the phone you completely lose the person who is physically in front of you trying to share something. This not just affects your ability to pay attention to real conversations but harm the relationships deeply.

2.     Toxic comparisons- It is always good to have the information handy, though with that comes a lot of unnecessary sludge. Comparing your lives with others, on the bases of their social media posts, the pressure to keep up with current trends, feeling left out, or even stupid for not knowing the current hot hashtags or trends. Eventually, the online world does become toxic and quite invasive in our privacy and our real lives. 

3.    Interference with sleep cycle-  As children, we always had limited screen time. It came with some genuine health reasons. Staring at the mobile screen, either playing or reading some random facts about 3000 BC till you fall asleep isn’t exactly a very healthy lullaby to fall asleep too. It not only affects our sleep cycle but can also cause anxiety and stress.

4.     Blurring of work and personal life balance – It’s no surprise that more than half of us have to do our work on digital devices these days. And social media is also a part of our work at times. Throughout history balance between work and personal life has been a struggle, now it’s even more difficult considering our work has invaded our private space with our devices. It’s not a 9-5 job anymore. As long as you have any of these devices on you, your work can follow you around the clock, and around the world.  It isn’t easy to separate between the two lives anymore.

5.     Giving in to temptation- It all starts innocently when you surf the online shopping sites. You make a wishlist just because it’s nice and at some point, you would like to have that. But then those sale notifications pop up or your monthly paycheck is transferred, or oh my god only one item left in stock! It’s just so much easier to buy something with a click away. The shopaholic in you might just take over, and your entire finance management is down the drain. This is exactly what happens even with games. Just another game is going to do no harm until you realize it’s time to rather wish good morning than good night.  And then, of course, we have the binge-watching sessions which always end with puffy eyes and a drowsy day following morning.

How to realign your priorities and do digital detox

If you look at all these situations when you do reach out for your phones is usually boredom, awkwardness, procrastination. The fun or pleasure part of it is long gone. We are dealing with more of a bad habit here. To work on these habits the best thing to do is becoming more conscious of your use and to discipline yourself to create a balance. A few things we can do to strike this balance when it comes to using and not overusing our digital friends are given below

  • Avoid Procrastination by setting limits- We pick up our phone or our laptops and time simply flies after that, then we have no time to do our work or studies after that. Pick out the apps that take away most of the time and set a daily limit on it. Remove multiple apps that serve the same purpose. You can use the airplane mode when you are not flying as well. It will help you to discipline yourselves with the screen time. You don’t need screen time when you are having your meal, focus on the food and the company that you have for your lunches and dinners. Giving your device some rest is always a good idea when you are spending time with your family and friends. This will help you to make the digital world less intrusive in your daily life.
  •  Reducing anxiety provoking situations with some detox time – This one is difficult but definitely possible.  You can choose a day in a week to completely stay without the devices. Our work might demand otherwise. But you can choose to personalize it to your needs. Completely staying away from certain applications or games that have become too intrusive in your daily lives for a day and slowly over a week.  Or social media detoxing where you consciously chose not to open those applications for a few hours and slowly over a time period even for weeks.
  • Maintaining sleep hygiene – One of the best ways to work on our digital detoxing is not to start or end our days with devices in our hands. Keeping your phone away when it’s your sleep time can help. The bed should always be a cue to fall asleep. Checking your phone first thing in the morning doesn’t exactly help you to achieve anything. Instead attending to that exercise routine which is on your to-do list for a while will do you some good.  
  • Working on triggers such as  removing notifications- It is hard to ignore that ding on your phone and that’s exactly the game most of the applications play and we fall for it most of the time. You might find it helpful to turn off those notifications. This will not just reduce the temptation to check what the notification is about but it will not disturb you in something else that you are doing.
  • Reasoning Rationally-  Making a conscious decision when to pick up the device- Why have I picked up the phone? Can it wait? Is it necessary to check my phone right away? It is an involuntary action to pick it up because it’s right there and it’s your habit to pick up your device even when you don’t exactly need to. What might help here is taking the help of people around you. Let them know you are trying to do a digital detox and you would appreciate their help and support. It is easy not to give in the temptation when you don’t have your phone on you. Stepping out for the walk or dinner without your phones can be a good start.

Digital detox is not exactly a very easy thing to do, but it seems like a need of the hour. We fail time and again to appreciate people and all the things around us and have lost ourselves in the greed of the never-ending virtual beauty of things. A bit of this and a bit of that is the balance that is very much welcome, isn’t it?

Take it easy,

Monali

(MA Clinical Psychology, PGD Counselling)

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