Juice cleanses and fitness regimens aren't the only ways to detox your system. In today's digital age, your mental health deserves a break from its stressors as well. And that means you may need a digital detox challenge every now and then—so you can enjoy your connected devices instead of being overwhelmed by them.
As Pew Research Center reported, 90% of U.S. adults say the internet has been essential for them during the pandemic, but many also feel fatigued from too much time on video calls and smartphones. Meanwhile, studies have shown that increased time on screens and social media can lead to depression in adolescents.
So, with Mental Health Awareness Month underway, we're sharing 7 digital detox tips for a healthier life online and offline.
1. Turn off push notifications
It's tough to give your mobile devices the cold shoulder when they're begging for your attention with frequent push notifications. So start your 2022 digital detox challenge with a simple fix: Turn off push notifications for inessential apps. Do you need to see every Instagram like? Probably not. But you may still want a real-time alert for that email from your boss.
Basically, pick and choose which notifications are important for you. And then set aside a time to check your other platforms for those not-so-urgent updates.
2. Limit yourself to one device at a time
Think of this one as a "digital detox lite" strategy. Instead of cutting yourself off from technology altogether, start by limiting yourself to just one device at a time. If you're used to watching TV while scrolling on your tablet, for example, or texting on your phone during Zoom calls, challenge yourself to give your undivided attention to a single connected experience. It might be tough to concentrate at first, but after some practice, you may end up feeling more present and less distracted.
3. Make airplane mode your friend
Despite its name, airplane mode isn't only great for when you're on a plane. This mobile device setting is also helpful for blocking phone calls, messages, and internet access. And, since airplane mode only disables your phone's cellular and WiFi signals, you can turn it on while still using your device to take notes, make art, play games, or listen to downloaded music.
4. Designate device-free zones
Having trouble committing to an hour without internet? Think of your digital detox as spatial instead of temporal by creating tech-free areas within your home. Maybe you decide not to use your phone in the kitchen so you can cook and eat with loved ones. Or perhaps you forbid laptops and gaming devices in the bedroom so you can better unwind before going to sleep.
By keeping certain devices out of designated rooms, you might have an easier time sticking to your detox and enjoying your space without reaching for your phone.
5. Give your screen time a purpose
No one's saying you have to live a totally screen-free life. Technology can be vital for working remotely, staying in touch with family, and, of course, just relaxing. However, if you can’t figure out how to stop doomscrolling and mindless browsing then your mental health could be at risk.
Try being mindful of the times you pick up your device just because you're bored or looking for that hit of dopamine, and approach your screen time with purpose and intention. Want to look up that new movie your friend told you about and see if it's playing nearby? Sure, go for it. Opening Twitter for the 10th time to track that viral news story about a celebrity's mishap? That might not be a healthy choice.
6. Delete distracting and unproductive apps
This one's easier said than done—but necessary nonetheless. Just like you might air out your home for spring cleaning, periodically audit your device and delete the apps that only serve as distractions. You can always reinstall them later if you miss them.
Can't bear to let them go? At the very least, take them off of your home screen and sequester them to their own folder where they're less easy to access.
7. Schedule internet time outs
Remember: You control your devices—not the other way around. And you can exert that control by giving them a time out as needed. Want to watch a family movie without everyone scrolling on their phones? Pause the internet on your mobile devices for the length of the film. Or, need to get some writing done without the temptation of checking social media? Give your laptop an internet time out for an hour.
HomePass, for example, lets you set time outs and internet freezes for specific devices or household members with the tap of a button. You can even schedule these times in your calendar, so you know there's no internet usage for an hour during dinner or for 30 minutes before bed. This way, you can focus on being with family, finishing that offline project, or having quality time with friends.
In fact, HomePass offers a suite of Smart Home Services that adapt to your needs and help you build healthier digital habits. So you can digitally detox when you need it most—and then jump back online once you're refreshed and ready.