An Expert Explains The Ins And Outs Of Digital Detoxing

Reducing screen time has quickly climbed the top of everybody's wellness goals in 2024 and here's what a mental health expert has to say about it.

Published On Feb 06, 2024 | Updated On Feb 27, 2024


When was the last time your doom-scrolled yourself to sleep? Or spent so much time on your iPad that you woke up to “frozen fingers” the next day? A high digital dependence can look like a lot of things which is why it can often go unnoticed. But more than wasted time and a possible threat of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, excessive screen time impact mental health in a very real way. 

“Excess of every thing is bad and when we talk about screen time it does not only have physical But emotional and mental health impact as well. The pervasive use of screens often becomes a means of escaping real-life challenges, leading individuals to immerse themselves in the virtual world giving a feeling of loneliness and anxiety. Digital eye strain, sleep disturbances are definitely there, but we also see heightened stress levels. If you are someone using a lot of screen time, you might exhibit signs of heightened anxiety, disrupted sleep patterns, irritability, mood swings, and difficulties in maintaining focus and concentration,” reveals Arouba Kabir, Mental health counselor & Founder, Enso Wellness.

So what does digital detox actually mean? Simply out, it refers to taking a break from using electronic devices and online engagement, especially your smartphone, laptops, and social media platforms like Instagram and X, to reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Imagine spending a weekend without said gadgets and instead engaging in activities like reading (not a Kindle!), going for a walk outside, or having long chats with your partner or family members without being distracted by constant notifications. And how does it benefit you? 

Arouba explains, :As we all understand that we cannot function effectively in today's day and age without technology and our digital devices, but every now and then a digital detox can prove very helpful.  It is important to break from the constant influx of information. It can lead to improved focus, better quality, sleep, reduce stress, enhanced interpersonal relationships, and increased overall well-being. It does not only help us feel stable emotionally and mentally, but even give us time to recuperate physically."

According to Arouba, here are five things you can do to reduce the digital dependence and is into digital detox:

  1. Set up specific time limits for screen usage: You can set daily app limits, downtime, and content restrictions on your smartphones. Even your social media apps have built-in tools to monitor and limit usage.
  2. Designate tech-free zones in your home by identify spaces like dining areas, bedrooms, or family rooms that prohibit devices during meals or family time.
  3. Designate specific times during the day when you intentionally disconnect from gadgets. This could be during meals, before bedtime, or during designated relaxation periods.
  4. Swap screen time for outdoor activities like hiking or biking. Rediscover screen-free hobbies from your younger days like painting, knitting, cooking, or playing a musical instrument. Instead of scrolling through reels, you can take up a new skill or hobby that requires hands-on engagement and practice mindfulness or meditation techniques to relax your mind without screens.
  5. Indulge in physical exercises EVERYDAY. Yes, every day, even if it's for a span of 20 to 30 minutes!

No, deleting your social media presence and disappearing from the face of the earth for a couple of days just to re-appear and go back to scrolling for hours on end is NOT digital detoxing. It involves taking conscious calls for yourself frequently and managing the presence of gadgets in your life mindfully. Arouba confesses, “We are unique human beings and come from different experiences and needs. The duration of a digital detox can also very based on a persons preference animals. I've seen some individuals really benefiting from a short weekend detox while other people need longer breaks. So one needs to be open and explore what works for them.” But what do you do when your work requires you to stay constantly connected? “Setting up boundaries by setting specific times for checking emails and messages. Communicate these boundaries to colleagues and superiors, emphasizing the importance of designated periods for focus and rejuvenation. Having effective time management techniques and utilizing the productivity tools can further your cause to consume digital means mindfully,” she concludes. 

Photo: /InstagramKendalljenner

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