Are you hooked on your phone?
Surveys show that the average person checks their phone more than 100 times a day, 40% look at their phones in the toilet, and 61% keep their phones turned on at night.
These statistics paint a worrying picture.
Spending too much time online can have a negative impact on your mental health, and mobile devices can also increase the risks of accidents – 26% of road traffic accidents are caused by inappropriate phone use while driving.
What is a digital detox?
Phones and computers are by no means evil, but it’s sensible to take a digital detox every once in a while.
A digital detox is a period of time during which you abstain from phones and computers, or at least limit their use if it’s impractical to completely switch off.
For instance, you could limit your social media use to half an hour each day, or check your email only once or twice over the weekend.
However, the longer your detox, the better.
A Danish study found that people who abstained from all social media for a week reported feeling significantly happier.
The signs you need a digital detox
Everyone benefits from cutting back on their screen time, but there are a few signs that suggest you are in urgent need of a digital detox:
1. You can’t remember the last time you made special memories with your friends
Social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends, but posting messages and liking one another’s statuses is no substitute for hanging out together in person.
You need to spend time in the real world to build the kind of memories that give you a shared history if you want your friendship to survive.
2. You keep getting headaches and eyestrain
People who stare at screens all day are at increased risk of headaches. Up to 90% of computer uses say they suffer headaches, along with eyestrain and dry eyes.
The American Optometric Association has even devised a name for this condition: Computer Vision Syndrome. The symptoms include neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches, and blurred vision.
3. You can’t remember the last time you spent time in nature
When did you last get out of the house and take a walk?
If you can’t remember, you’re probably spending too much time on your device.
Exercising outdoors, or just appreciating a natural setting, improves your well-being to a greater extent than using social media or mindlessly surfing the internet.
4. You’ve started to feel irrationally jealous of other people and their lives
One of the well-documented side-effects of social media is envy and depression as a result of comparing yourself to other people.
If you feel vulnerable or have low self-esteem, seeing photos of friends, family, or even strangers who appear to be enjoying themselves can make you feel inadequate by comparison.
Even though most of us realize that social media is merely a highlight reel of other peoples’ lives, drawing comparisons is a natural and powerful human tendency that is difficult to overcome.
5. You’ve lost interest in your other hobbies
All addictions have features in common.
One classic sign of dependency is a loss of outside hobbies and interests.
If you find yourself lazing around on the couch, checking social media instead of enjoying your old hobbies, it’s time to reassess the role the internet plays in your life.
6. You’ve started spending too much money online
Online shopping is convenient and quick, especially with the rise of ecommerce apps and one-click ordering.
On the downside, it’s easier than ever to make impulse purchases and overspend.
This is a particular problem for Millennials, who are the first generation to grow up with technology that lets you organize almost every aspect of your life online.
When you see something you want online, ask yourself whether you want it, need it, and – most importantly – whether you can afford it.
Most impulses fade within a few hours.
If you feel compelled to make an unplanned purchase, note it down and review it 48 hours later.
If you still want to buy it, and have the funds with which to do so, you can.
Impose a strict limit on the amount of time you spend on shopping sites if you have trouble managing your money, or only place orders when you are with other people.
Going on a digital detox isn’t easy, but you’ll feel the benefits within hours.
If you want to calm down, sleep better, and improve your relationships, it’s one of the best things you can do.
Why not schedule a complete detox sometime in the coming weeks?
It may just change your life.