If you’re reading this article on your smartphone and just can’t seem to put it down, this is for you. Though social media claims to make us social beings, it has only managed to make us non-confrontational, hiding our true selves behind a screen. If you’re one of those people who has a compulsive obsession to check your Instagram likes on your latest post, or take your phone out to pretend text people in an elevator to avoid making small talk, then it might be time for you to put your devices on silent and digitally detox. Here are a few steps to make sure you stay on a digital detox and truly see the difference in your life.
1 Regain Control
Like any detox, one can’t just quit social media right off the bat, without experiencing some FOMO (fear of missing out). The purpose of a digital detox is to introspect on our dependence on social media and ask ourselves, are we in control of it, or is it in control of us? So, the first step would be to reclaim control and that can be done by disabling push notifications for all the apps that tell you how many likes you’ve gotten or random messaging apps. Keep notifications on only for those messages that you know you can’t miss. This way, you’re not entirely off of it, but you’re the boss.
2 Baby Steps
Start by setting small goals every day. It could be a simple ‘no phones at the table’ rule while dining, or plugging out two hours before bedtime, but when these goals are achieved, they’ll make it feel worth the effort.
3 Tell Everyone
No one wants to fail when everyone’s watching. So tell everyone what you’re doing and you’ll feel much more inclined to succeed. Also, you’ve got nothing to lose, some of your friends might even get inspired and go on a detox themselves!
4 Remove the Screen
When we have our phone in our hands, we feel compelled to check it every few seconds, because we’re afraid we might miss out on something. And we mostly don’t, but all it takes is one romantic picture of a distant relative to set you off into despair. So, when you’re going on walks, or to the supermarket, leave your phone at home. You’ll realise that observing life around you is pretty interesting and will be forced to make casual conversation with people as well.
5 Ring the Alarm
That’s right, go the old fashioned way and buy an alarm clock. Keeping your phone in bed with you is not only harmful because of the vibrations, but also because of all the disruption you’re inviting into bed with you. Studies have shown that not keeping phones in bed has helped cure insomnia for several individuals, and they claim to be more well rested and active in the mornings, even if they get lesser hours of sleep.
6 Find your Fit
Analyse your social media use, the pages you follow, the apps you use and identify the hobbies you like watching and browsing but don’t do in reality. If you follow a lot of artsy pages, get doodling, or if you browse food posts, take a friend with you and travel to unique cafes. Whatever your social media fix was, try to replace them in real life. If you get into a routine, you’ll realise that the social media version of your hobbies doesn’t give you the same level of satisfaction as doing the real thing.
This is not just some observational experiment, as there are studies that show the positive impact going off social media has on the body:
• When people are off technology, they tend to remember obscure details spoken by others in conversation much better, thereby improving memory.
• People tend to sleep much better because the blue light from the screens suppresses the manufacturing of melatonin in the body, which keeps you alert, despite being fatigued, making it much harder to fall asleep.
• Also, research has shown that people who are used to hiding behind the screen tend to be more introverted, have terrible posture and struggle to make eye contact. People who are not too dependent on social media are able to forge healthy, intimate relationships, make eye contact, and sit more upright, which prevents them from having back problems in the long term.
Reserve a day or two reserved to disconnect and refuel, like the weekend. You’ll feel much lighter and ready to face challenges head-on. Your work performance will be boosted and the way you interact with your surroundings will change.
(This article has been contributed by Shamantha K, Counselling Psychologist, Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore)