Are you concerned that you spend far too much time connected to your smartphone? Is it perhaps time for a technology detox? Read on to learn about the importance of taking breaks from electronic devices and how a tech detox can help you live in the moment.
Spotlight On Mental Health: Can Too Much Technology And Social Media Affect Your Health And Happiness?
Some people believe that social media makes them happier. And, in the short term, they may feel more connected to the world in some way. But, for many, this is really just an illusion.
The hidden danger of technology (particularly social media platforms) is that when you use them constantly – and many people do – they might actually lead to feelings of isolation as well as a host of other problems. Let’s take a look at how they might be affecting our overall mood and sense of wellbeing.
- Self-esteem – Constantly comparing your own life to the “picture perfect” (and never real) lives of others on social media might negatively affect self-esteem. A study from the University of Copenhagen found that many people suffer from what they term “Facebook envy” causing unhappiness and low mood. 1
- Feelings of isolation – Social media has been linked to feelings of loneliness. Experiencing real human connections can help enhance well-being, but social media might make you feel more socially isolated the more you use it. And, loneliness is linked to a vast array of health and mental health problems. 2
- Attention span – How many times do you pick up your phone while waiting at a cafe for a friend? Or flick through your Instagram while you’re watching a TV show?
Your brain is taking on more and more information, which can make it much more difficult to truly relax and take in the world around you. Social media may be competing for your attention (and winning). 3
- Sleep – Put your hand up if you’ve ever checked social media in bed before turning off the light. Most people can admit to this one. Some, nightly.
Using your phone right before sleep may cause sleep issues. The blue light being emitted from your device can suppress melatonin, the “sleep/wake” hormone that helps you to feel tired. 4
- It Can Be Addictive – Studies have found that A study in the UK found that some people experience actual psychological withdrawal when they stop using technology and social media. 5
Technology Detox 101: Tips For Cutting Back
No matter how much screen time you’re getting, everyone could use a technology detox from time to time. It’s easier than you may think, and the best part is, you’ll really notice a difference. Here are some ideas to help you cut back.
Delete some apps –
Remove unnecessary apps from your phone, but if you must, keep those apps on your computer. That way, you’ll only be tempted to check them when you’re physically sitting with your laptop or at your desk. You automatically lessen the time you spend using them.
For example, many people like to remove the Facebook app so it can’t be accessed so mindlessly. You can check-in during the day on your computer, but once you close your laptop, Facebook is done for the day, too.
Keep your email in check –
First, start unsubscribing from all the stuff you never read. Minimize what’s actually coming in. Second, designate specific times of the day to check and reply to emails.
If it makes you feel better, set up an auto-reply function that lets the emailer know that you only check emails at 9 AM, 1 PM, and 5 PM and will respond accordingly.
You can also talk to your boss about work emails. Many companies (and countries, for that matter) are putting rules in place to support employees’ after-hours “right to disconnect.” 6
Don’t use a TV in the bedroom –
Once seen as a luxury, having a television in the bedroom lessens the sanctuary of this sacred room. It’s often been said that the bedroom should only be used for sleeping in order to create a zone in which you can easily relax and snooze. And, for good reason.
Watching TV late at night in bed not only emits that same melatonin-suppressing blue light as a phone or tablet, but it may also make your mind overactive. 7 It’s far better to read a few pages of a good book to help you get into that optimal sleepy state.
Turn off email notifications –
In fact, turn off as many unnecessary notifications as possible. You don’t always need to know when a new email pops into your inbox or when your favorite singer just tweeted. These constant interruptions can keep you distracted and encourage you to spend time looking at your phone.
Have a technology-free Sunday –
For most people, the weekend is for family, friends, or just winding down. Sunday is the perfect day to unplug and declare your weekly “tech-free day.”
Leave your phone behind if you go for a walk, put it on airplane mode so you won’t hear messages or calls, and stay off all devices – at least for a substantial period of time. If you need to check on calls, do only that and then put the phone away. You might find that fewer distractions lead to a far more relaxing weekend and better time spent with family and friends.
Are You Addicted To Technology? Talk With A Doctor Or Mental Health Professional
Addiction to technology or social media is real and potentially harmful. And often, it can take some work to break free from.
For many people, it’s a matter of just breaking the bad habit of constantly picking up and scrolling through their phones. But for others, professional help may be necessary. This is especially true if the addiction is beginning to cause mental health issues like feelings of anxiety or low self-esteem.
Your health, wellness, and happiness are paramount. Nothing on social media, or in an email, is ever worth compromising it.