Reclaim Your Time (and Mind) with a Digital Detox 

You may think that being constantly connected to your digital devices is helping you get ahead. But at what cost? Turns out it could be a pretty high one.

Nearly one in five Americans say the use of technology is a significant source of stress, according to the American Psychological Association. Yet 86 percent of Americans lean heavily on their tech devices by “constantly” or “often” checking emails, text messages, and social media accounts.

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Responding to client or colleague requests around the clock may get you that promotion, but a 2019 study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry acknowledged an association between screen time and symptoms of anxiety. On top of that, a 2018 study published by Pediatric Research found that parents who spend a lot of time on their phones or other devices could be contributing to feelings of frustration and hyperactivity in their kids.

“Advances in the digital and cyber world have been helpful in both our careers and our personal lives, but too much of anything can be harmful both physically and to our mental health,” says Deb Smith, a women’s self-care and balance life coach based in Media, Pennsylvania.

While eliminating all of our devices isn’t practical, a digital detox is a period of time where we cut out or cut back on our usage of them. Here are some tips on becoming untethered to technology.

If you’re ready to go cold turkey:


• Pick a start and end time. Come up with a designated time period, such as a day or a weekend, in which you won’t use your devices. Let friends, family, and coworkers know, and give them a way to get in touch with you only in emergencies, suggests Christine Carter, author of The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less.

• Make it difficult to plug back in. If you’re worried you’ll be tempted to check Twitter, put your devices out of sight, let the batteries run out, and store them away from their chargers, Carter suggests.

• Find a replacement for your attention. Expect to feel lost without your phone and other devices. Make a plan to start that book you’ve been wanting to read or start a new hobby or activity that will keep your interest so you don’t give in to the temptation to check your social media feeds, Carter adds.

If you can’t break away completely:


• Set boundaries wisely. While you might not be able to shut your phone off for an entire day, you can create a schedule of hours that you will be unavailable to others, Smith says.

• Use rules to set limits. Give yourself short goalposts to cut back on tech usage over time. For example, you might start with putting your phone away during mealtimes or when in the physical presence of others, Smith suggests.

• Make technology work for you. You may be able to delegate some of your professional digital tasks using technology. For example, setting up automated responses can keep you from being glued to your email, and automated posting apps can cut down on the time you need to spend on social media platforms, Smith says.



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