The days were very long during confinement and we missed a lot of people.
We also wanted to keep our heads busy. And where do we find comfort, avoidance and that ‘contact’ with our loved ones that we so longed for? What allowed us to move forward, teleworking, buying ‘online’ or informing ourselves of the evolution of the pandemic? To answer all these questions you have to look at the same place: the screens. The TV, the computer, the tablets and the mobile phones have been during the hardest weeks of isolation one of our few windows open to the world.
We are permanently connected to the Internet and social networks, and if we are more than two meters away from the mobile we feel that a part of us is missing.
This dependence is real, and in the opinion of the experts it is getting worse and worse. We depend on the screens for everything: in the workplace, with emails, the agenda, Google to answer any questions…, and during our free time, with WhatsApp groups, Facebook or Twitter updates or uploading everything we do in the form of photos to Instagram. But we must prevent technology from taking over us, because an abuse of it can cause damage to physical and mental health. Something that has been accentuated even during the pandemic in which almost all of us have practiced is doomscroolling.
A solution that can be effective to reset ourselves, disengage before habit turns into addiction, and establish new habits, is to do a digital detox, which consists of a temporary total disconnection of electronic devices to learn to use responsibly and reasonable of technologies.
How to know if you need a digital detox
The best way to know if you need a digital detox is to think about your daily habits regarding the use of new technologies. Some of the signs that may indicate that your body needs a 2.0 respite are visiting social networks more than ten times a day, that your mobile is the first thing you look at when you wake up and the last thing you look at when you go to bed, that you answer work emails outside of your working day, or that you cannot stop consulting the phone when you go down the street or are with other people
Social networks have generated the factor of comparison and despair, which consists of judging our lives based on those we see on social networks – which seem perfect -, which can generate anxiety and low self-esteem
If you feel identified with this type of behavior, it is time to consider a digital detox; This does not mean that you never have to use your mobile phone or other electronic devices again, but rather that it is about stopping and starting to use them responsibly. Remember: the bad thing is not the use, but the abuse.
Being glued to the mobile phone has serious consequences for our well-being. These negative effects include what is known as text neck syndrome – a misalignment of one or more vertebrae caused by keeping the head tilted down for long periods of time – hand problems, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, or tendonitis on the thumbs because of the unnatural position we adopt when holding the device.
Technological dependence can also lead to physical problems.
To this we must add that the light emitted by the screens of the devices, added to the short distance at which we keep them from our eyes, can cause damage to the retina, worsening our vision. It also influences our circadian rhythms, as it is proven that handling electronic devices before sleeping worsens the quality of sleep.
But the psychological consequences are even more important, and it is that people who do not separate from the telephone have higher levels of stress and anxiety than those who make responsible use of these devices. It is increasingly common for friends to meet up with several who do not take their eyes off the screens, something that in the long run can deteriorate social and romantic relationships.
Social networks have generated a problem called in psychiatry as the factor of comparison and despair, which consists of comparing our lives with those we see in other people’s social networks, which seem perfect. This is when we judge ourselves, which can lead to anxiety and even low self-esteem.
Getting rid of your mobile, your faithful companion, is not an easy task. To make this process more enjoyable and productive, here are some tips to start your smartphone detox:
- Set your time for the digital detox: this will depend on the level of dependence on the mobile, although it is recommended that it last between three days and a week. In this way, the person can completely disconnect and start good habits. Ideally, do it during a vacation.
- Establish schedules: in many cases, for work or personal reasons, you cannot be without a telephone, so it is best to establish schedules in which it is allowed to look at emails and social networks. You can also choose to find a weekday in which it is possible for you to completely disconnect, and you can do so by turning off the mobile or putting it in airplane mode.
- Stay calm: it is normal that the first few days you feel the temptation to look at the phone and this generates some anxiety, but over time you will see that it is not essential, it is best to take it easy.
- Find partners: one way to get the best results and get motivated is by sharing the challenge with a friend, family member or partner. Remember to inform people that you are going to do this disconnection. This way, they will be able to know the hours at which they can contact you, and you will avoid unnecessary scares or worries.
- Create rules: establish rules, such as putting the phone in airplane mode when you get home. If you fulfill them, you get a reward. If not, a small punishment. It will motivate you to do ir right.
- Do things that you life: find your hobbies and practice them, the only condition is that they do not have to do with technology. Go for a walk, practice running, yoga, read, cook or paint, and if you don’t have hobbies, stop and reflect for a moment, surely you do, you may have just forgotten.
- Avoid your phone during meals: move your smartphone away while you eat, either alone or with company. For this, there is a well known game that consists of leaving all the phones stacked on the table in a meeting with friends, and the first one to pick it up is the only who pays.
- Application cleaning: think about how you use each application and then assess whether it is necessary. Uninstalling applications can help you more than you think. In addition to avoiding the bad drink of seeing your friends’ great vacations while you are working, you will also get rid of unimportant notifications that distract your attention.
- Do not have your mobile nearby: one way to avoid falling into temptation is not nearby. Therefore , avoid having your gadget nearby at work, during your disconnection moment, and while you sleep, as the luminescence of the screen and notifications can interrupt your sleep.
- Turn off notifications: with the deactivation of notifications with light or pop-up windows of all applications, you will stop getting distracted.
There are other options to make the digital disconnection, these are rural getaways in which mobile phones are prohibited, and in which explorers can only connect with nature. This is a good way to meet people, rediscover what we have around us, do without telephones and computers, and realize that the important thing is that we control the technology, and not the other way around.
- Is technology not the only thing you are addicted to? Are alcohol or drugs becoming a habit during the pandemic that is becoming hard to halt? Learn more about addiction treatment and our recovery blog covering from vaping to food obsessions at La Jolla Recovery.
After spending the time of total disconnection, you will feel less stressed and more vital, you will improve social relationships, and you will feel more vital. But, to avoid relapsing into bad practices, it is important then to establish new habits in the use of the telephone to prevent the situation from repeating itself, and thus protect our physical and mental health from the effects of the abuse of new technologies, a weapon with double edge.