We Could All Use A Digital Detox

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We’ve all been there – your phone pings and you drop everything to check your screen. Your attention span is… what were we saying? Your phone is your grown-up security blanket.

But hey, you’re not alone!

These global habits are driving a booming digital detox trend. We’re seeing people disconnect from tech and reconnect with life offline. 

They’re buying “dumb” phones, banning devices from their bedrooms, and even heading off on digital-detox vacations. 

We’re calling out the blue light obsession and spotlighting the most innovative (and healthy) ways to spend some time off the grid by answering your most-Googled questions.

How many times a day do you check your phone? 

In “Do You Need a Digital Detox?” Danielle Friedman wrote that the average number of times is 47. We hate to admit that this feels like an understatement.

Scientists have proven that technology is addictive. 

Every ping zaps your brain with a hit of the pleasure chemical dopamine. It’s rewarding successful online social interactions– a comment on your Facebook post, or even an email announcing a sale at your favorite store. 

This dopamine release often motivates us to repeat this action until we go into overdrive. Hardly surprising that this addiction is disrupting our relationships and work.

The negative physical health downsides of being always-on include painful “text neck” (ugh),  higher blood pressure, and stress. 

It gets worse.

Nomophobia is the separation anxiety people experience when they can’t use or access their mobiles. 

Phubbing is what psychologists call the habit of not being present with real people when you’re busy posting or checking messages. We’ve all been there…

The fight against short attention spans has begun (the average American’s attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight over the last decade). 

Tristan Harris, who used to work at Google before he founded the Center for Humane Technology, is worried. He wrote in Wired about how tech company efforts to hijack human attention via data and algorithms are “downgrading” our attention spans, relationships, and manners.

Families are hiring screen-free parenting coaches to try to turn back time to pre-smartphone days. Some parents are even taking a “No-Phone Pledge” –  promising to withhold smartphones from their kids until eighth grade, and set better examples themselves.

Then there’s the documented mental health damage.

Like how social media can erode body image, with young women particularly vulnerable to depression. No surprise considering we only see a curated version of the lives of friends and celebs, which can be toxic for self-esteem.

Digital detox matters – there’s a rise in demand for (and availability of) digital-free downtime choices. 

One of the pioneers of screen-free breaks is Digitaldetox.org, with its “Camp Grounded” – think summer camp for grown ups. No phones allowed. We’re loving their tagline: We help you slow down. We remind you to look up.

Dining out has caught the bug. David Chang just banned photos at his New York restaurant,  Momofuku Ko, telling food bloggers: “It’s just food. Eat it!” Staff at Lebro’s, a New York Italian, give 10% off on Sundays to diners who put their phones in the bread basket!

As a Goop subscriber might say, it’s clear that a conscious uncoupling from digital devices is the best route out of being always-on. If we unplug periodically, we can learn to be comfortable with being disconnected.

Even Huda Kattan is doing a digital purge.     

In summer 2019, beauty influencer, Huda Kattan, paused her social media to reset and focus on family. 

As someone who made her fortune on social media platforms, she admits to finding unplugging a struggle. 

Through her journey, Kattan shared hacks like creating phone-free physical spaces in your life- when you’re eating out (once you’ve snapped your meal, naturally!) Kattan also reassures people that updates from friends will always be waiting for them when they decide to “re-plug”.

Use tech to unplug from… tech.

Not everyone is ready for a retreat from online life though. 

You can still turn off notifications, and ‘Marie Kondo your phone’, only keeping apps that spark joy. Or go retro, switching to black and white so your screens are less alluring.

You might even want to ban tech in the bedroom.

Did you know that sleep-disrupting digital devices produce blue light tricking our brains into thinking it’s daytime? Plus online activities we use them for, from gaming to watching exciting movies, keep us buzzed.

And don’t forget to protect your body from tech. 

Look away from screens every 20 minutes and blink more often to avoid digital eye strain. Look up, holding your phone higher to fix text neck. Wear sunscreens to offset blue light from devices.

Once you have good digital karma coming your way…

try mindfulness! New York Times columnist and recent meditation convert, Farhad Manjoo, says: “The best way I can describe the effect [of meditating] is to liken it to a software upgrade for my brain…”

Or dip into recent self-help guides like “How to Break with Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life” that focuses on the emotional triggers that cause you to reach for your phone. 

Feeling like you have a long digital detox to-do list?

No matter what “digital detox” means to you, create a little breathing room between you and your tech – and you just might find remember that the most important kind of connection is with yourself.

And you’re not alone – there are a ton of products helping you enrich your new digital-free space, many revolving around home zen. A good place to start is with home spa treatments, weighted blankets, or mood lighting.

Visit ShopStreet.com for reviews of digital detox-friendly brands to take the first step on your detox journey:

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