Digital Detoxes: Are They Enough To Kick Digital Addiction?

“Digital Detox” is becoming a very popular buzzword in the health and wellness world. But what is it exactly, and why is it so important? Is it anything more than a passing a trend?

My take is that digital detoxes are absolutely necessary in this day and age since everyone is constantly glued to their screens – but they’re also just the beginning of our recovery from digital addiction.

Have you noticed the number of people walking on the street, looking down at their phones instead of forward? Or couples in restaurants looking at their phones instead of each other? What about your decreasing ability to read a news article all the way through, or to concentrate? These seemingly small moments do add up, and it’s important to take a step back to examine your habits and their consequences.

This sounds scary. Let’s get on the Digital Detox bus.

The term “digital detox” is trademarked by The Digital Detox, a company that specializes in helping groups of people disconnect via full-on luxury retreats. Just as a juice cleanse can help you shed dependency on sugar and caffeine and regain an internal fresh start, these trips are designed to help participants regain a sense of balance and well-being from being unplugged and more in tune with the real world. These detoxes are essentially guided, reinforced breaks away from technology like smartphones, computers, and mobile devices that allow you to be constantly connected to social media, email, and work.

I love what this company does, and see the tremendous validity in jump-starting the experience of actually living in the world instead of through a screen. I wish pretty much every day that I could go on their gorgeous retreats around the world. Their itineraries are booked solid with yoga, hikes, delicious meals, nature, and tons of other activities like arts and crafts. I imagine it’s like glamping, with the promise of handmade souvenirs at the end.

Can’t afford Cambodia? Here’s an alternative.

Sadly, these trips don’t really fit into my budget. But even if they did, detoxing in any sense is only the first step to kicking a bad habit. What matters are the daily choices we make after the Major Reset. Using my previous juice cleanse analogy, just as it doesn’t really make sense to start eating fried foods and doughnuts after it’s over, it doesn’t make sense to revert to old habits of checking that one last work email before bed, or tweeting, or checking Facebook first thing in the morning.

Living with technology without letting it take over your life means adjusting your daily habits.

This entails being mindful of how much you’re looking at a screen instead of your friend across the dinner table. It might mean setting boundaries for your work and your personal life, which isn’t easy. It most likely means coming to terms with how compelled we feel to check our phones, our email, or our Facebook feed.

The fact of the matter is, at all times, we have the ability to be connected — and having that access can end up distracting us from the important things in our lives.

So how can we be connected just enough without losing connection with ourselves?

Start small, and be mindful. You can certainly start with a cold-turkey detox of your choice, but the real results come from daily follow-through. Just as we must consciously choose to exercise once a day and to feed ourselves healthy snacks, taking a break from anything with a screen must too be a decision.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • For one week, give yourself 30 minutes of “digital snooze time”. Every morning, right when you wake up, avoid your phone. No peeking until the 30 minutes are up.
  • Squeeze in a little me-time during your commute. Switch your phone to silent and put it away in your bag. Listen to a book on tape or your favorite podcast instead. Need to make a call? Use your car’s Bluetooth or a hands-free headset to keep push notifications out of sight and out of mind.
  • Declare your intentions to be less digital-dependent to someone close to you. It doesn’t have to be grand. Just saying, “If you find me being a little too glued to my phone, can you let me know? I really want to be better about it.” Being held accountable will help you stay on track, and they can always remind you when you stray.

Five or ten minutes here and there add up, and before you know it, you just might find yourself enjoying the lightness that comes from being free of your digital addiction. This can work for anyone. The best part? You don’t have to leave your house to do it, and it’s completely free.

Still feeling a little doubtful that you can do this? Sign up for my free 7-day experience to ween you off the digital stuff. At the end, I’d love to hear how it went for you, and if you feel any differently!