Because you owe yourself a stint in the real world

By Joyce Reyes-Aguila | Photo by Rhett Noonan/Unsplash

How long can you stay away from your mobile phone?

The perpetual influx of new technologies and information makes it difficult to keep us hands off our devices, according to contributor Lee Bell. Along with the many advantages a connected world brings is a string of challenges that make it hard for us to disconnect from it all.

Still, it is important to go on a “digital detox.” According to Bell, this is a period of time when an individual “refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, and is regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world.”

Many are voluntarily going through the process—like Lee himself who went to an eco surf and yoga retreat center in Puerto Rico—because research has shown the detrimental effects of digital addiction to our physical and mental health as well as our social relationships.

Rana Foroohar of the Financial Times shared that being glued to the small screens has increased the stress levels of “constant checkers” of e-mail, text messages, and social media, caused road accidents because drivers are distracted with texting or social media (again), and even contributed to the depression felt by young adults.

People subscribing to digital detox have gone to places without internet, and turned off their mobile phones deliberately to focus on experiences both new or familiar. Do you want to shed off some of the excess time online? Log out, sign off, and scroll down to start your digital detox:

Understand Your Whys

You have to know how a digital detox will benefit you. Is it because you want to spend more time with family or be able to focus on work? Has being constantly online pressured you to post whatever comes to mind? Do you find yourself taking 10 selfies so you can find the perfect one to post each day? Bell says many of have are now lost; we do not even know why we post our activities online. According to him, it may be about seeking validation or basing our happiness on the number of likes or comments our posts get. A complete break can cut bad online habits and can even let you rethink why you posted certain things in the past.

Refuse Wi-Fi on Trips

We usually go overseas to run away from it all, so avoid looking for internet connection at every stop. Travelers before the age of internet survived very well. So if a map and travel guide book is all you need, let it be your only essentials. Then think if you and the world will survive without you checking in at every airport, train station, restaurant, shop, and street. You will not be banned from any country if your post is not ATM or will you be stopped from entering the country if you did not inform everyone on Facebook that you were away. Cherish your experiences by really being there and not by making it just about what you can post. 

Revisit Your Notifications

Do you really need to know every time a tweet is retweeted? Notifications and alerts invite us back to our gadgets and stay there for more minutes than we had planned. You can lessen the constant barrage of updates by choosing the alerts that really matter to you. This way, your screen lights up fewer times, lessening your urge to check on it and jump from one app to the next.

Go on Airplane Mode

Consciously opt to not receive any text message, e-mail, or social media updates even if you are not thousands of feet up the air. Set it for an hour or more when you are in the gym, watching news, or while you’re enjoying a marathon television series. If you are keen on helping your kids with homework without any disturbance, turn on airplane mode. You will be able to focus on an activity and accomplish goals without stopping halfway to attend to something you know very well can wait.

Prepare Distractions

Turn the tables. Instead of being late for spin class because you were chatting online, be early for spin class by not being online. When you feel the urge to unlock your phone, look the other way and make sure a book, a hobby, a pair of running shoes, or even a cluttered drawer is there. What would you rather accomplish: completing an hour-long run or not missing a single post online?

Do Tell About Detox

It is important to tell your family, close friends, and colleague if you plan to stay away from your phone for a few days. Let them in on how many days you plan to be off the grid and a backup number they can contact you for emergencies. Liken it to an out-of-office notice that can let everyone know how long you will be gone. And yes, if you feel the need, post online that you will be gone for some time—as long as you promise you will really stay away, that is.