What is a digital detox?
A digital detox is switching off all digital devices over a short period of time.This enables you to spend time doing whatever you enjoy – offline. You can think of it as a chance to recharge and rest. A digital detox should ideally be around 24 to 72 hours (over a weekend maybe?). Therefore, it will not affect your school/professional life.
Here are a few things to think through before starting your digital detox:
Remind yourself why you want to do a digital detox. Do you want valuable thinking time? Or to spend quality time with people who matter to you?
Time for a detox
Plan your digital detox. Weekends and holidays are great times to try a digital detox. Tell anyone you need to that you’ll be away from your email and smartphone. It’s common for people to announce on social media that they’re about to do a #digitaldetox and you can do that too if you want.
Make some plans
Plan enjoyable activities for your time switched off. These can be things like cooking, walking, or spending time with friends and family. You could pick up a neglected hobby or spend time reading. You might choose to explore the city you live in or somewhere new. Spending time in nature is a great thing to do, as it is a proven way to restore your attention.
Straight after switching off, you might feel a sense of unease, and will perhaps have a strong urge to check your phone or computer. Just wait, and these feelings should pass. Get on with the non-screen activities you had planned, and start to notice the time and space you’ve given yourself.
During a digital detox, there tends to be a feeling of having plenty of time (rather than rushing against time). You may well sleep better, think more clearly and more deeply, and feel re-energised. Enjoy the change and notice your reaction to not being ‘on call’.
The return to the digital world can be overwhelming at first. A barrage of information and multiple demands can seem too much. But use the perspective you have gained. Redefine what is urgent, what is important, and what doesn’t even need to be done. Unsubscribe to any email lists you no longer need. Try new behaviours, such as checking email or social media less frequently.
A digital detox shouldn’t be a one-off. We can’t expect to recharge our batteries just once all year. So plan your next digital detox, and see if you can go further this time. Try two days instead of one, or try making a digital detox a regular part of your week. The best evidence for a digital detox comes from trying it for yourself. Once you’ve done so, the chances are, you’ll be reaching for the off button again.
A digital detox could be a great way to find out if you are an internet addict. If you find it uneasy to detach yourself from the online world, you might need some assistance. Hong Kong Christian Services provide a counselling service which might be just for you. Find out about the program here.