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It’s time to break up with your smartphone. In fact, while you’re at it, it might be wise to cool things off with your tablet, your PC and your laptop too.
Nowadays technology is woven so tightly into our daily lives it’s hard to imagine a world without it. Conversations are punctuated with ‘Google it!’ and ‘Message her now!’ meaning our friendliest chats regularly glow with the cold blue light of a screen.
Those minor distractions could perhaps be justified: we can find out in seconds who wrote that book and invite Jess for dinner quick as a flash. But what about the hundred-odd times a day we check our phones for no reason at all? It’s a reflex, a nervous twitch. And it’s seriously affecting our mental and physical well-being.
Here are 4 reasons you need to take a digital detox (plus some tips to help you succeed)
- It’s bad for your mental health
It’s official; your smartphone is messing with your head. Research has shown that regular users of social media reported a lower mood and feelings of dissatisfaction after using platforms like Facebook. As well as reducing your attention span — which we’ll touch on later — constantly gazing into other people’s lives tends to result in harmful negative comparisons.
One solution could be choosing a single method of communication, such as text message, and reminding the important people in your life to catch you there. This way you’ll never stumble over the shiny lives of ex-colleagues or uni classmates that could set your thoughts on a destructive path.
- It’s harmful to your body
Technology may have sped the world up in many ways, but it’s also literally slowing us down. We’re seated far longer, and the boundless energy we lived on as kids has become a monotonous formula of hunch, scroll, double-tap, repeat. Whether it’s back pain, eye strain, a sore neck or aching wrists, the harmful effects of using multiple screens and staying seated all day have taken their toll on many of us.
The answer? Make the switch. Use a paper and your favourite coloured pen to make notes, instead of the app on your smartphone. Call friends for a chat — landline if they’ve got one! — instead of talking in dribs and drabs through WhatsApp. Pick up a book instead of playing that digital game that makes your eyes go numb. Small changes with serious results.
- It reduces productivity
Checking your phone as many as 200 times a day means you’re constantly breaking concentration and distracting yourself from the task at hand. A thousand tiny glances at your latest Instagram post or an unfolding Twitter scandal are not as innocent as you think. These little moments add up to minutes which become hours; and what have you actually achieved? The more our thoughts are dragged back to some useless gif or hypnotic advert, the shorter our attention spans become. This decrease in productivity has been noted in workplaces the world over.
Physically distancing yourself from your phone may be the only failsafe way to boost productivity and keep your mind fixed on the task at hand. Leave it on the stairs or in another room. On silent.
- You’re forgetting the joys of real life
The more fun we find inside our phones and laptops (tumbling Candy Crush jelly beans, informative podcasts, pictures of kittens) the less we take in the world around us. There’s nothing quite like a jangling ringtone to kill the magic of a countryside sunset. However vital your phone may seem, if you’re brave enough to leave it behind, the benefits will be undeniable. Imagine actually remembering the view because you stared at it long enough, instead of just taking 70 photographs.
Set yourself the challenge of getting out into nature once a week, gadget free. To truly love the digital detox dream, book a rural getaway and leave your phone behind. It will take some organisation, but the results will be life changing.