How to Do a Digital Detox

Have you ever done a digital detox? I just finished one over the holidays. Going 7 days without my phone and computer was incredibly refreshing. I spent loads of time with my family, and also enjoyed nature. My needs came first as I took care of my body, mind, and spirit. An incredibly healing endeavor, a digital detox is like a fast for your brain, where you unplug from all of your devices.

What is a Digital Detox?

According to Wikipedia, the term digital detox refers to “a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic connecting devices such as smartphones and computers. It is regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress, focus more on social interaction and connection with nature in the physical world.” That is exactly what I experienced during my own digital detox.

How to Do a Digital Detox

In order to do a digital detox, you’ll need to refrain from using your smartphone, computer, and other connected devices. The smartphone part is easy for me. Mine is always on airplane mode. That’s because the radiation that cell phones emit has not been proven safe. For more on cell phone radiation, you’ll want to check out my Are Cell Phones Dangerous article. Because of this, I use a landline to make phone calls. I find disconnecting from the computer far more challenging.

Planning for a Digital Detox

Find a window of time that feels right for you to unplug and do a digital detox. That way you can put an auto-responder on your email that you’re out of the office. I made the mistake of spontaneously turning off my computer the Friday before Christmas and not turning it back on until after New Year’s. Oops. It’s best not to do this and to plan in advance for your digital detox.

What to Do During a Digital Detox

I spent a ton of uninterrupted time with my family. This is a top priority for me since the boys are now both in college. I wanted to be completely present with them while they were home for the holidays. I also went for extra long walks in nature, not just my usual laps around the block, and gave myself private yoga lessons everyday which was a real treat! I was a yoga teacher in Manhattan in the early 1990’s. I also had more time for deep thinking and reading books and medical papers, with all of the time that I usually spend checking email and social media.

How Will I Feel After a Digital Detox?

My brain felt so good taking a break from what I refer to as “staccato“ thinking and multitasking which technology can encourage and increase. Unfortunately, we are changing our brains and training them to do multiple things at once with very short bursts of attention. This can be problematic when it comes to attention and memory since we are not deeply focusing on the present when using our devices and our brains in this way.

Catching Up After a Digital Detox

Surprisingly, when I plugged back in, I had far less catch up work to do than I thought. This made me realize how much time I whittle away and waste on my computer each day! Have you ever done a digital detox? If so, for how long? Leave a comment and let me know!


10 responses to “How to Do a Digital Detox”

  1. As we keep the Sabbath, we unplug every Friday evening thru Saturday night, and several more times throughout the year for religious observance, totaling roughly 66 days a year. Sometimes 25 hours, and sometimes 73 hours consecutively, without breaks. No phones, iPads, cars, computers or kindles. While it can be very stressful getting there, it is extremely rewarding, and wonderful for our family. It is something I am grateful for. <3

  2. I thought it was funny that right under the email about digital detox was a post about all your “social” media sites.
    I’m not on any of them except rarely looking at Pinterest. Takes up too much time from all the great times life has to offer, like making food from recipes, as one example…or getting outside in nature!
    Just sayin’.

  3. I need to do this! Sometimes I feel like the pinball wizard going from one device to the next and back around again. I want to be free! Thanks for the article that reminded me of a New Year’s resolution.

    • June, you’re very welcome! Love your description of the pinball wizard going from one device to the next :-)

  4. This is going to have to be something I do in the very near future. I need to take better care of my brain, and the two ways I think I can best do this are by going to bed much earlier and incorporating a regular digital “fasting” period into my life. I tend to behave as if smartphone time is a way to treat myself, or take a break, but really it is much more taxing on my mind and spirit than it is renewing! Glad to see this post today.

    • Sarah, thanks for your wonderful comment and for adding such astute observations to this conversation :-)

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