Why You Need a Technology Detox and How to Do It

The following post was originally featured on Jill Conyers and written by Jill Conyers, who is part of POPSUGAR Collective.

More Americans are staying connected and online than ever before. Nearly one-third of adults (30%) spend more than half of their waking hours (9+) using a digital device.

Image Source: Jill Conyers

I use technology every day in my personal and professional life [a lot]. And, I would never, ever argue against the responsible use of it.

Last year, I questioned myself and my use of technology. Was my use of technology responsible and the even bigger question, was my use of technology healthy for my body, mind, and spirit?

Almost a year ago I made a few changes and added a little unplugged to my life. What started out as a list of rules is now a lifestyle choice: no technology one to two hours before bed and very little, if any, computer time when I get home from work. I starting sleeping better and had more family time, and there is what I can only describe as a feeling of being less wound up. I’ve also added at least one, sometimes two, days a month when I’m totally unplugged. It’s easier to do than you might think.

I am the first to admit the benefits of technology and being connected online, but it’s clear the world has an unhealthy attachment to it:

Think about this (Pew Reasearch Center):

  • 84% of cell phone users claim they could not go a single day without their device.
  • 67% of cell phone owners check their phone for messages, alerts, or calls, even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating.
  • Almost half of cell owners have slept with their phones next to their beds because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls.
  • Studies indicate some mobile device owners check their devices every 6.5 minutes.

In 2015, Pew Research reported up to 68% of adults in the United States have a smartphone; that’s up from 35% in 2011.

Digital Detox reports:

  • 61 percent admit to being addicted to the internet and their devices.
  • The average American dedicates 30 percent of leisure time to perusing the web.
  • The average employee checks 40 websites a day, switching activities 37 times an hour and changing tasks every two minutes.
  • 33 percent of people admit to hiding from family and friends to check social media.
  • 60 percent of people say traditional vacation does not relieve their stress.

Nearly one-third of adults (30%) spend more than half their waking hours (9+) using a digital device. Anyone else shocked by this number?

Reasons to give yourself a digital detox:

Unplugging helps remove unhealthy feelings of jealousy, envy, and loneliness. From the number of birthday wishes on Facebook and photos of dream vacations in a tropical paradise to always clean homes and the picture perfect marriage, the opportunity for envy is never in short supply. Researchers recently discovered that one in three people felt worse after visiting Facebook and more dissatisfied with their lives. Unplugging resets and refocuses appreciation and gratitude for our lives.

Real life is happening all around you. These conversations are unfiltered and authentic. And the love is real. Each moment is only going to happen once, and you’re going to miss it because your head was down looking at a screen.

Learn something about yourself. Are you online too much? Do you have an unhealthy attachment to technology? The best way to answer those questions is to be without. Notice, how did you feel? Were you calm or anxious? Did you experience the constant urge to check Twitter, Instagram, email, or texts, and were you uncomfortable when you couldn’t? Find out how much control technology has over your life. You might be surprised.

Life is still about human contact and physical connection. There’s no denying the benefit and the ease with which family and friends stay connected with technology. That said, it doesn’t (shouldn’t) take the place of personal contact and connections. People that love and care about you are right there, right in front of you. Bring your head up from the screen and enjoy having them in your life.

You will relax, de-stress, and recharge. It’s hard to relax if you’re checking your phone every 6.5 minutes (or more). Imagine the things you can do with the extra time you have while unplugged.

Your body will be healthier, and you will have more time to be active. We’ve all heard sitting is the new smoking, right? Think about how much time you sit in front of a computer. According to the Vision Council 2015 report, physical symptoms commonly associated with overexposure to digital devices include eye strain (32.8%), neck/shoulder/back pain (32.6%), headache (24%), blurred vision (23.3%), and dry eyes (22.8%).

6 Tips for a Technology Detox

  • Unplug for a specific period of time each day.
  • Take an intentional break from technology several times throughout the day.
  • Unplug one day a week.
  • Turn off notifications.
  • Plan ahead for what you will do with the time you’re typically on your computer.
  • Make it a family unplugged.

I was just telling my husband last night, I could easily give up TV and, except for staying in contact with him and our kids, I’m fine being without my phone.

Image Source: Jill Conyers