According to some research, about 61% of people admitted they’re addicted to the internet and their digital screens. This has increased the need for a digital detox, making it an essential necessity for our generation.
What’s a digital detox? It is all about making the mindful decision to intentionally take a timeout from using electronic devices like your phone, laptop etc, either completely or for specific subsets of smartphone use. This is often prompted by the realisation that you may be spending an excessive amount of time on them, leading to a negative effect on your mental health and other unwanted side effects.
This behaviour was heightened by COVID-19 lockdowns that forced people to stay confined to their homes with limited physical human interaction. Binging on digital interactions to kill time became most people’s default activity. This has also resulted in unforeseen health problems, like obesity, due to increased inactivity and mindless eating, eye problems, sleep interruption and others. So it's important to regulate how much time we spend in front of our screens daily, especially since we all know how easy it is to mindlessly scroll through our phones for hours on end.
Sporadic digital detoxes are also essential since screen time was also found to increase anxiety and depression during the pandemic, as it tends to continuously expose you to negative news that impacts your mood and overall wellness. Although screens have been a lifeline that enabled us to learn new skills, stay active, continue to work, study, stay connected and communicate with our loved ones while in lockdown, it's still important to regulate how much time we spend on them.
So here are some of the activities you can engage in while you’re on a digital detox:
1. Start Journaling more consistently
There has been a renewed hype around the art and emotional benefits of journaling in the past few years. Thus many of us grew up writing in our journals but stopped this practice as we got older, but now this is something that adults are encouraged to do to help process emotions and just write down our daily experiences.
Journaling can be a helpful habit to get into while you’re detoxing just to help you process some of the anxiety you might be feeling while you’re offline because FOMO (fear of missing out) is very real for our generation. Many of us are used to constantly sharing our feelings and thoughts on our timelines with our followers as and when we are experiencing them. Without that space to share, journaling can be a great source of comfort. It’s not easy to get into it, but once you build the habit, the benefits can be immense.
So what are some of the benefits we can gain from journaling more consistently:
- According to some research, it has been associated with decreased mental distress and increased well-being. It can ease daily anxieties, with researchers finding that those with various medical conditions and anxiety who wrote down their experiences (this can apply to physical journalling) for 15 minutes three days a week over a 12-week period had increased feelings of well-being and fewer depressive symptoms after one month.
- Journalling can give you perspective about something you’re experiencing, thus it gives you the space to reflect and get an outside-in perspective on events. Writing down your feelings can help you understand them and yourself better.
- It can improve your physical health and wellbeing. This is important because the reality is that our emotional distress often impacts our physical health as well. By journaling what you’re feeling instead of resorting to unhealthy habits like eating or drinking, it can reduce the impact on your physical health.
The best place to start is to keep it simple if you decide to do journalling, but otherwise, there are no set and hard rules about how to go about it. Do what feels right and comfortable for you until you get into the habit of journaling.
2. Create and check off a list of fun things to do for yourself
The reality is that we all get into the habit of putting things off, especially fun and self-care related activities that require us to prioritise our needs. So creating a list might be the best way to kick you into gear.
We know putting together yet another to-do list is quite a lot, but it is equally important to take some time out to do what you enjoy and the things that help you to relax. The reality is that, without a specific list, most of us are likely to continue deprioritising our self-care needs. Listing them down can give you the motivation you need to get started, you’d feel even more inspired once you begin to check them off one at a time.
You can also use this checklist during your digital detox as an opportunity to form a new habit that you can continue even when you’re back online. The list is a tool to hold you accountable. Here is a checklist on ‘Mastering the Art of Self Care’ to get you started on your journey to discovering effective ways to make self-care a priority. It's about recognising when your energy and coping mechanisms are running low and what to do to get back on track.
3. Schedule a new fitness routine
The journey to holistic health and wellness requires an all-rounded approach, this means understanding that the quality of your physical health also has an impact on your mental health and nutrition choices. Thus, not taking care of your physical body can have a ripple effect on the quality of your sleep, how you manage stress, your eating habits and the impact on your overall mental health. But the reality is, keeping to a consistent fitness routine can be hard and challenging. This is why we encourage you to create a training schedule since it can help alleviate some of that stress.
Hence we believe that reaching your fitness goals should not be rocket science, the only way that you are going to actually improve is if you have a clear path with targeted objectives and actions that show you how to get there. Creating a schedule can hold you accountable while also empowering you to plan ahead so it becomes easier to stay focused on your goals. You can download our ‘How To Create Your Own Training’ guide to help you get started on this exciting fitness journey. The best thing about getting into working out is that it will occupy both your mental and physical body so you’re not thinking about your phone.
Scheduling a daily training session can serve as an act of self-care, see it as the one tangible act of service to your mind, body and spirit.
4. Start a new hobby
Outside of work and side hustles, most of us have forgotten what we used to enjoy doing without the expectation of earning an income. Many of us would be stumped if we were to be asked about our hobbies on the spot. But luckily, during the lockdown, a lot of people started getting in touch with those parts of themselves due to boredom. We saw a rise in activities like sewing, pottery, crocheting, learning a new language, stocking up on the plants/gardening and baking (banana bread :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:).
Hobbies are meant to help us take the stress off of our daily life while devoting time to ourselves. According to research, hobbies can certainly help improve your mental and physical health because they offer leisure time that is essential for holistic healthy living. So it’s important to pick the activities that you have a genuine interest in because hobbies are meant to bring you pleasure and happiness, not dread.
People pick hobbies for various reasons, some can be fun while others help you learn, establish new habits or just open up your world to new possibilities. There is no wrong or right way to go about it. The trick is to start small and don’t put too much pressure on yourself, it shouldn’t feel like work. The best part about getting new hobbies is that they can give you something to do so you’re not obsessing about all the stuff you might be missing online while you’re detoxing. It would be even better if your hobby gets you out of the house and into spaces that allow you to socialise and meet new people.
5. Spend time outside in nature
We can never overemphasise the benefits of being outside in nature and getting fresh air - it has been shown to have both physical and mental health benefits.
Research has suggested that spending time outdoors doing nature-based activities can be a useful therapeutic intervention for those experiencing stress and other mood disorders. This is vital as many people have been found struggling with anxiety, loneliness and depression as a result of Covid-19. Going into nature is one way to address this challenge - there is even a growing area of research called ecotherapy, which shows there is a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.
Spending time in greener spaces can also be good for your physical wellness, especially when you indulge in outdoor activities like running, hiking, cycling and walking. This could improve your mood, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression by making you feel relaxed, boost energy levels, and increase some weight loss. And more importantly, it's free compared to gym memberships.
6. Practice mindfulness so you can appreciate being in the moment
This involves an intentional awareness of our everyday experiences, to live and be in the moment as we engage in activities like eating, walking and breathing so that we are more present and fully engaged instead of worrying about the future and or being distracted by our devices.
This practice has been said to reduce anxiety, the effects of depression, make us more productive, attentive, insightful and more connected to ourselves and our surroundings - leading to improved health and wellbeing. Being mindful unlocks an ability to hear and listen to what our body needs so we can respond timeously. This is necessary during a time when we are all feeling heightened anxiety and worry about the state of our bodies, the present and future, it can help us feel calmer and grounded so we take each day and task as it comes. It’s especially important to tap into mindfulness while on your detox because it’s a technique that can help bring you back to yourself, helps you become one with where you are instead of the noises and distractions that come with being online.
So on your next digital detox, try these tips and see if you can uncover a whole new, healthier and happier you who’s in touch with your inner self. The priority is taking better care of your mental and physical health, above all else. This list helps you to do just that.