The last 18 months have pushed us all to our limits in one way or another, whether it was working from home, dealing with redundancy, home-schooling our children, cancelling weddings or losing a loved one.
As we all scrambled for ways to connect during a time when we couldn’t physically be together, our screen-time hit an all-time high. If it wasn’t a virtual meeting it was a Zoom pub quiz, if it wasn’t a pub quiz it was an evening on the House Party app and if it wasn’t House Party it was completing Netflix, mindlessly scrolling Instagram, distracting ourselves with Tik Toks and pretending we lived on a little Animal Crossing island, far far away from planet earth.
And who can blame us for going ham on escapism? In the era of social distancing and quarantining, the digital world was a lifeline for many during a time of unprecedented isolation.
However, the pressure to be productive with our lockdown days was rampant as timelines and social feeds were flooded with aesthetic homes and LICK paint projects, baby announcements, new hobbies, baking skills and home workouts. Someone somewhere was making a banana bread, a baby, a book or a business.
With many people heading back to the office for the first time since March 2020, or still juggling working from home with family life, now seems like a good time to take control of your screen time.
“Detoxing” From Our Digital Devices – The Conscious Cleanse
Digital Detox Day means different things to different people. You don’t have to go cold turkey and hand in your digital devices Nine Perfect Strangers style if that’s not practical for you. Simple measures such as introducing a technology curfew could be all it takes to establish some boundaries with your devices and learn to live with them in a way that’s healthy rather than harmful.
The benefits of stepping away from your smartphones, TVs, tablets and laptops, even temporarily, are pretty extensive, from reducing stress and anxiety to boosting productivity and improving sleep patterns.
Disconnecting from the online world can help focus on our offline social interactions without distraction. If you’re feeling stressed or bogged down by the constant connectivity or you’re feeling like your dependence on your devices has become excessive over the past 18 months, taking part in Digital Detox Day can be a fundamental way to destress and strike a balance between work and life.
If completely disconnecting from your devices isn’t going to work for you and your lifestyle due to work obligations, you can still take part in Digital Detox Day by setting limits on when these digital connections are allowed to intrude on your daily life. You might benefit from switching off push notifications, deleting certain apps for 24 hours, allocating specific times to catch up and respond to messages, sleeping with your phone in another room or designating phone-free dinners when you’re with your friends.
The key to getting the most out of a digital detox is making sure it’s practical and sustainable for you, that way you’ll also be more inclined to make going device-free a regular part of your self-care routine.
Comparisonitus. We’ve all felt it. Constant connectivity can feed the FOMO beast, leaving you feeling like your life is less exciting or fulfilling than a stranger’s, a friend’s or a celebrity’s on the internet. Whether it’s chasing likes and external validation or perceiving someone’s highlights reel as the pinnacle of life goals, taking a step back from social media can be a good way to gain some perspective and focus on what’s important in your life without comparing yourself to others.
Get A Better Night’s Sleep
The blue light that emits from our screens has been shown in many studies to disrupt our sleep. By logging off a few hours before bedtime, your mind and body will know it’s time to unwind, meaning you’ll get to enjoy a sound night’s kip free from that blue light brain noise.
Nurture Meaningful Connections
No one can argue with the convenience and efficiency of technology. On the one hand, it offers connection and communication at the touch of a button, but on the other it makes us inescapably accessible to anyone 24/7. If that sounds horrifying it’s because it is. We don’t know who needs to hear this but responding to an email at midnight is never necessary.
How many times has your phone interrupted an important conversation with a friend or caught your attention when you should be fully immersed in the present? When you remove the urge to check your phone or respond instantly to something then and there -Slack, WhatsApp, DMs, Instagram Story replies, the list goes on – you can really listen and give the people you love your undivided attention. The inbox can wait.
Re-Engage With Real Life
According to an Ofcom study, UK adults spend an average of 8 hours 41 minutes a day on screens (BBC) and check their smartphone every 12 minutes, figures that have no doubt grown exponentially in the wake of the pandemic. With this growing dependence on our devices, our screens are ruling our lives, hijacking our downtime and causing a disconnect with the reality around us.
Whatever your relationship with your devices, we can all benefit from putting some personal boundaries in place to protect our mental health. Prioritise that screen-free walk with a friend, sign up to yoga class in a light-filled studio, read a book without one hand tethered to your phone. Reconnect with the wonder that is: real life.
Break The Cycle
Unlocking your phone for no apparent reason is the new walking into a room and forgetting what you went in there for. Whether it’s disappearing down a social media rabbit hole or doom-scrolling for hours on end, mindlessly consuming information in this manner is a sure-fire way to feel drained before your day has even begun. With the average adult using social media for 2 hours a day and many of us stuck in the cycle of reaching for our phones as soon as we’ve opened our eyes, our minds are constantly overworked and overwhelmed. Your mornings and evenings are sacred and doing a digital detox is one such way to ensure they stay that way. Use that time to check in with yourself before you check in with the rest of the world.
Our September Digital Detox Series
As we all step away from our devices for 24 hours on Saturday 4th September, we wanted to create a mini-series throughout the month here on Zoella.co.uk to inspire you with ways to flex your creative muscle, switch off for mental health and enjoy some quality downtime without distraction.
After we all thoroughly enjoyed unshackling ourselves from our smartphones for Digital Detox Day 2020, we wanted to channel that positive change into something long-term; something we can continue to practice and utilise on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, whenever we feel overwhelmed with the constant connectivity and frazzled by that blue light beast.
The Digital Detox series will see us collaborating with some epic fellow creators, coaches and artists to shine a light on the activities, habits and hobbies we can discover when we’re not glued to our screens.
From sitting down for a self-love yoga and breathwork class to learning how to identify wild edibles with a professional forager and using our lunchtimes to put down our phones and pick up a paintbrush, the series will act like a month-long toolkit for the mind, continually prompting us to put our mental health first.
We hope the series inspires you to reclaim your downtime, commit to self-care and embrace the benefits of a digital detox, not just for one day of the year but every day.