Written By Julie Paiva, CHHC
There are many benefits to using technology. In many ways technology has made our lives easier. We can now google anything instead of heading to a library to research. Navigating is easier than ever with GPS apps and voice directions that guide us to a destination in the quickest manner without stopping to read a map and hoping there isn’t traffic on the route chosen. We can even stay connected with loved ones who live far away. However, like anything else, too much of one thing is never good. Technology can be overused and even abused.
Our culture relies on technology, so it is important to develop a healthy relationship with it. One way to do this is by taking regular technology detoxes. Taking a break from technology opens up space to genuinely be with ourselves, authentically connect with others, and spend time out in the world.
Here are some tips to support you in creating a healthier relationship with technology.
Clarify your “why”
To get the most from a technology detox, it’s important to be intentional and clear on your “why” for doing so. Do you want to feel healthier? Connect with others more often? Stop procrastinating? Find more time for creative activities? Getting clear on the “why” will help you stay committed and have the most fulfilling process throughout.
Because of our cultural reliance on technology, considering a tech detox may seem daunting, or even impossible. Taking small, incremental steps is the key to not being overwhelmed. Instead of going cold turkey, you could choose not to check email after 6pm or limit your Facebook or Instagram time to twenty minutes a day. You can decide to not look at your phone till you have been awake for an hour and /or put your phone away and hour before bed. Starting small can help you build a sustainable habit and shift how you interact with technology over time.
Communicate your detox parameters
It’s okay to not be available 24/7, but we still have coworkers, families, and friends who we need to communicate with. In general, people tend to be supportive if you decide to take a break from technology, but you’ll likely have a better experience if you simply tell people what you’re doing.
If you don’t tell anyone you’re doing a technology detox and go radio silent, people may think something is wrong or get frustrated that they can’t reach you. Tell people when you’re detoxing, what your boundaries are, and how they can get hold of you if necessary.
Fill the void
Whenever you make changes and stop doing one thing, it’s important to fill that space with something that is nurturing, nourishing, and brings you joy. Before you begin a detox, decide how you want to fill that void. You could go for a hike, read a book, garden, journal, play an instrument, or go out to lunch with a friend – the possibilities are truly endless!
Enjoy the silence
Too many people fail to appreciate being in the moment and enjoying the peace within ourselves. Spend some time in silence. Be mindful of your self-talk and reflect on your thoughts that come up. Focus on gratitude and all the things that you are thankful for in your like. This could be made more formal by introducing meditation into a daily routine. Spend some quiet time with yourself and appreciate who you are.
Use your time away from technology to get up and move. So much of our lives these days are spent sedentary with our faces staring at a screen. Get off that couch or step away from your desk and exercise a little. Grab your kids and head outside for a walk in the fresh air. Take a bike ride, shoot some hoops or crank up the radio and dance yourself silly to your favorite tunes. Do something active that you enjoy and brings you some joy. Movement does a body good.
Notice how technology serves you
During your detox, note any insights you have regarding your relationship with technology – both the good and the bad! In doing so, you can reevaluate how you wish to engage with it in the most helpful and healthy way. From this place, you can set up a plan for how you want to interact with technology moving forward.
Enjoy unplugging and filling the space with authentic creativity, connection, and play. Your nervous system will thank you!