How long do you tend to go without using technology? If you’re rarely parted from your smartphone and you’re always feeling the urge to check it (even when you know deep down you haven’t got any new messages!), it’s probably having a negative effect on your mental health.
Taking a step back from the stresses linked to technology is much more vital for self-care than you might think and not doing this can mean that anything else you do from a self-care perspective is a lot less effective. It’s therefore really important to think about technology’s place in your self-care plans and do yourself a favour by easing yourself away from it as much as you can.
Here’s why technology can be so damaging for your wellbeing and how you can work towards a technology ‘blackout’ that improves your self-care.
How technology can affect self-care
These days, most of us are glued to our smartphones or tablets and don’t take much of a break from them (or at all, in a lot of cases!). According to research, the average person checks their phone up to 10,000 times a year. That’s 28 times a day, or more than once every single hour. Scary stuff, when you think about!
Being so connected to the digital world can cause stress and anxiety, especially when it’s not possible to get online for a bit. There can be a few factors involved in this, including Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) on news or notifications and getting a dopamine rush similar to fuelling an addiction whenever our phone pings with something new. It’s often the case that we feel that we need to be in constant contact with technology and that we’re not really in control of this.
One of the best moves you can make from a self-care perspective involves weaning yourself away from technology – for days if you can manage it! It gives you back the control over when you use technology and puts you in the much less stressful position of choosing to use it, rather than feeling compelled to. And that’s got to be a whole lot better for your wellbeing, right?
A digital detox of 24 hours (or longer) can have lots of wellbeing benefits. Lower stress levels, sleeping better and a stronger focus are just a few examples of the mental perks you’re likely to gain from switching off completely from your digital life for a day or so on a regular basis.
When your first instinct isn’t to check your phone as soon as you wake up, you’ll probably find that the day gets off to a calmer and more productive start. Plus, you’ll have more time to take care of yourself with healthy, nourishing breakfast too. Lots of potential for great self-care!
How to break free from technology
If your use of technology is affecting your wellbeing, you’ll definitely want to make technology free periods a key part of your self-care routine going forwards.
Here are a few steps to make it happen:
Time your check-ins: The ultimate goal is to get used to the idea of switching off from technology and not feeling stressed or anxious when you do it. This can be hard to do in reality and you might find it hard to turn devices off completely to begin with. If this is true for you, you might find it easier to try being parted with your phone (or other devices) for 15 minutes before you let yourself check in again. Once you feel more comfortable with this, you can go a bit longer between check-ins but it may take a while to get to this point if you’re super attached to your devices right now. Take things at the pace you need and know that even small wins are a big step towards better self-care.
Go to places you need to unplug in: If you’re going to places where using technology is a no-no, you’ve got no choice but to embrace it. Fitness classes and swimming pools are a couple of examples of this and as an added bonus, you’re engaging in another form of self-care: exercise!
Have a technology free hour: Once you’ve built up to going for an hour without using any form of technology, pick an hour every day where you’ll switch off, step away from all of your devices and chill out. An hour is your first goal but big bonus points if you can work up to having a tech ‘blackout’ for a whole weekend!