Digital detox is good for your mental health

Psychotherapist Inchara Shivaramu shares 5 simple steps to keep away electronic gadgets

By: Inchara Shivaramu

How many of us can stay without our smart phones for 30 minutes? It is very difficult, isn't it? We behave like a fish out of water. The addiction to electronic gadgets is so much so that most of us have forgotten to stay connected with the real world around us in our desperation to be active on social media.  

Even after our working hours, we aimlessly browse social media applications like Facebook and Twitter to kill our free time. Research shows that social media promotes narcissism, smartphones cause insomnia, and digital screens make our kids less empathetic.

The need of the hour is digital detox to reduce stress and focus more on interacting with people around us. Digital detox refers to a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices connected to the internet, such as
smartphones and computers.  

The dependency on electronic gadgets increases when you don't have colleagues or friends to interact, share and bond. We tend to repeatedly check our phones every few seconds, irrespective of whether we are free or engaged in some constructive work. We do this because every time we pick our phones, there is a small rush of hope or expectation that we might have either received a reply or a new message or a mail or reactions to our social media posts.
Start your digital detox by following these primary steps:

Start small and build up gradually
A digital detox does not have to be a full retreat. You can start with mini digital detoxing throughout the day. Start on the first day by not looking at your phone for 15 minutes. The next day, unplug for 30 minutes, or take several 15-minute breaks. Work up to a half day or full day every week when you stay away from digital media and social platforms.

Don’t use your phone to get away from your phone:
Nowadays many people use smartphone applications for activities like sleeping and meditating. This can actually be counterproductive. Sleep, meditation and other forms of relaxation are natural. Keeping your mind attached to your device when you are resting can impede your rest because you are not 100% resting; you are still attached to your device. People have been resting without the aid of devices for centuries, and this is still possible.

It might be tough but keep going:  
You find it tough when you are going on a detox. At times you feel bored, and feel strange when there is no sound of electronic gadgets around you. If or when this happens, remind yourself that the detox is only temporary. Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable, and think of creative ways to spend your time.

Start and end your day in a healthier way:
Keep all kinds of electronic items outside your bedroom. This place is meant for only sleeping and relaxing and not for watching movies or playing video games. We generally retire to bed with our phones in hand and scroll down social media sites before setting our alarm for the next day – pretty normal right? The downside to this is that repeatedly hitting snooze on your smartphone is far too easy. Research shows that allowing ourselves to go back to sleep during snooze time results in sleep inertia which causes impaired alertness and performance on a range of daily tasks. Leaving your phone outside your bedroom and getting yourself an analog alarm clock will make you feel refreshed.

Digital detox helps mental health:
By reducing the reliance on technology we are more focused on what is happening around us and by being mindful it helps in reducing anxiety and stress. Research shows that women who spend longer hours on social media tend to become obsessed with their appearance leading to issues like anorexia.

It is important to consider these healthy ways to declutter if you notice yourself getting hooked to such gadgets and use the free time to develop healthy hobbies or restart any of your forgotten or neglected hobbies.


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