It’s the silly season, and time to relax and let go. In the same way that we drink more, we eat more… many of us land up spending a lot more time on our devices. But if you truly want to unwind, recharge, relax and connect with loved ones – one of the most effective ways of doing this is to cut down or detox from social media and our devices.
So many of us are hopelessly addicted to our phones. And while we feel like we couldn’t live our lives without what has become an extension of our limbs, spending too much time online is proven to cause anxiety, poor sleep, and importantly, an inability to be fully present in life’s activities because you are permanently distracted by your device.
In fact, Problematic Smartphone Usage (PSU) or smartphone addiction, is now being viewed as a psychiatric disorder according to a research paper published last month in the British Medical Council’s Psychiatry Journal. Many people spend more time online than they do sleeping, which is probably the biggest sign that its time for an intervention.
Here are 10 tips for detoxing from social media and your devices this holiday season:
1. Turn off social media notifications on your device –This is an obvious one but is also a huge time-saver. By turning off notifications for social media, you will be far less tempted to check your device compulsively, and instead can check it at a few select times in the day.
2. Don’t take your phone to bed – charge your phone away from your bed or set up a charging station somewhere else in the house. By stopping to read your device right before you go to sleep and instead reading a book (remember those?), you’ll be amazed at the improved quality of sleep you have; at how much more easily you fall asleep; and at how much more refreshed you feel when you wake up in the morning
3. Device-free family meals – this should be a year-round practice, but if it isn’t, now is the best time to start. Make a firm rule that no devices are allowed at the dinner table. Anyone who breaks the rule or checks their device during dinner has to do all the dishes!
4. Restaurant device challenge – make a rule when eating out with friends that all phones are to be deposited in one person’s bag or in the centre of the table. Whoever checks their device first or reaches for their phone first has to foot the bill!
5. Nothing to do in the queue! – challenge yourself to leave your phone behind when you next do the grocery shopping. You may find you won’t know what to do with yourself while waiting in the queue – but out of boredom comes some of the greatest creative thoughts.
6. Set screen time limits – Apple’s Screen Time app allows you to set time limits for specific apps and also create a specific downtime in which all your apps are off bounds. If you have an Android device, Google’s Family Link can be downloaded for free and offers similar functionality.
7. Clean up your feed: Take some time to consider which accounts are time sucks and which accounts make you feel nervous, anxious or insecure. Consider unfollowing them or simply removing them from your feed.
8. Delete time-sucking apps off your phone:Identify which app you are spending most of your time on. Consider deleting it from your phone and simply checking it on your laptop.
9. Do something really fun and don’t post it:When you are at a party, having a beach day, having family Christmas or doing something which you would ordinarily post on social media, focus on being present in the moment and challenge yourself not to post any of the photos on social media. This will allow you to focus far more on enjoying the experience than on how many likes/views you get from others.
10. Take a tech-free walk in nature – ditch the phone when going for an outdoor walk (provided you don’t need it for safety purposes). Wondering around with no device is incredibly liberating!
Happy holidays everyone!