How to Combat Stress with a Digital Detox
Phones, laptops and tablets have become such an integral part of our everyday lives that it's completely the norm to be distracted from a task or conversation by a notification of some sort.
Something else that has also become the norm for many people is stress, and this can actually be worsened by our attachment to technology.
Mobile phone use has been linked to increased depressive symptoms and a heightened number of sleep related issues. Both of these struggles are also connected to increased levels of stress in an individual. It’s clear that the digital world has a considerable impact on our wellbeing!
For the last full week of National Stress Awareness Month, we've been looking into the benefits of taking a break from technology and the impact this can have on our stress levels… here's what we found!
Benefits of a Digital Detox
Technology can go both ways when it comes to productivity. In one sense, it aids us in getting tasks done efficiently, but on the other hand, mobile phones, and the content they provide access to, are one of the biggest distractions.
Messages on the group chat, Instagram notifications and other sorts of push notifications can distract us from the task at hand in an instant.
Research suggests that the average person spends around 4 hours a day on their phone… we’ll just let that sink in.
A digital detox gives your brain the opportunity to wind down and avoid the glare from your digital display. This greatly reduces the amount of processing your brain is trying to do, which can help you de-stress and feel more relaxed.
It's no secret that technology can be detrimental to your sleep. The infamous bright light from your phone and laptop screen is pretty good at damaging the quality of your snooze, and a lack of sleep is really terrible for your stress levels (and mood).
The blue light from your digital screens trick your body into thinking it's daytime and as a result, your body produces less of the sleep hormone Melatonin.
Phone use also keeps your brain alert, and an alert brain doesn't like to switch off! So, if you're guilty of scrolling down your social media pages or searching the internet until late at night, it might be the reason why you're struggling to fall asleep on an evening.
Rumour has it that mobile phones are killing human interaction skills, and you can understand why… "wuu2 😊" just isn't going to get you very far in the real world, and many of us choose to sit on our phones rather than chat with the people we're in the presence of.
Although our phones do have many fantastic benefits, a short digital detox gives you no excuse but to give your undivided attention to the company you're with. This allows you to get more out of a conversation and develop meaningful relationships, which in itself is a great stress-buster!
Improvements to Mental Health
Technology makes it really, really hard for us to switch off. Having our phones at our fingertips often brings with it the pressure of needing to reply to messages straight away, but this can induce a level of stress and anxiety that we just don't need.
Taking a break from your favourite pieces of technology can give your brain a chance to fully relax and live ‘in the moment'. Think of it as technology-free mindfulness!
How to Take a Digital Detox
Start Little by Little
Throwing yourself in at the deep-end by trying to go cold turkey with technology is likely to cause more stress than it's worth. Do yourself a favour and start little by little. Try keeping off your phone for a manageable period of time, such as an hour or for the duration of a coffee break.
No Tech Before Bed
37% of UK adults check their phone just before bed, but it's widely recommended that you go phone-free for the hour before you go to sleep. This gives your brain the chance to wind down and prevents your eyes from being exposed to the blue light that’s affecting your sleep!
Reply to Messages at Specific Times
Set aside particular hours during the day for you to reply to your emails and messages. This takes away the pressure of needing to reply instantly and also allows you to be more efficient with your time.
Turn Off Notifications and Press Mute
It's hard to keep away from your phone when it's constantly pinging with notifications. A great way to avoid this temptation is to turn off the push notifications on your phone for the social media channels distracting you most. Additionally, muting the group chat for an hour or so will make your digital detox much more bearable!
Have Tech-Free Meetings
It's harder to take a break from technology at work if your job involves the frequent use of a laptop or mobile phone. However, there are still some ways to fit a little tech-free time into your working day. If you’re able to have a team meeting without the presence of technology, give it a go! Or try taking your lunch break away from your desk and leaving your phone in your pocket!
With the relationship between technology and stress being so strong, a digital detox of any kind can be refreshing. Why not challenge yourself to go technology-free and see how it makes you feel? Don’t forget to check out our previous blog posts surrounding National Stress Awareness Month: 5 Stress-Coping Mechanisms that Actually Work and Innovative Ways to Work Towards a Stress-Free Office.