An extremely common problem in society lately is that we are spending so much time engulfed within our digital and online worlds.
Today I am hosting a guest blog by Cassie Hudson, psychologist in training.
Cassie Hudson holds Bachelor of Arts Majoring in Psychology at Monash University,
Followed by a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology (4th year) also from Monash University.
She is currently completing Master of Communications at RMIT.
In addition, Cassie does casual work as a telephone counsellor, and is particularly interested in couples counselling.
She plans to commence her Masters in Psychology next year.
Today she shares with us her wisdom on the importance of digital detoxification.
The sad reality is that a lot of peoples lives, and particularly our relationships, can greatly suffer from digital distraction. Many of us may or may not be aware that we have serious addictions to our phones, and social media in particular. A lot of people are actually more concerned about their online image than they are about what’s going on in reality. In fact, our “real lives” may have become our Facebook lives and our physical lives are spent staring for many hours into our screens. This type of behaviour is damaging to our relationships, our careers, our mental health and many other aspects of life. Among other things, this borderline obsession with the online prevents us from self awareness and self improvement!
Being aware of this problem and taking conscious time away from our devises and distractions can have such a positive affect on our personal lives, on our work or study, mental health, self awareness, our relationships, and increase our general happiness!
If we are at the stage were we can see and admit that our lives may benefit from some form of digital detox, then I believe this is a very healthy step to take!
Recently I have personally taken the step to delete the Facebook app from my phone. I was starting to become annoyed at things I was seeing on my news feed, particularly relating to peoples self-obsessed behaviour and “image crafting”. I was also annoyed with myself for scrolling aimlessly without realising it when I should have been doing Uni assignments, or actually just being more present around other people. After a couple of weeks of this Facebook detox I defiantly feel more productive, I feel I am less distracted, and so relieved to be free from the frustration I was feeling from seeing all the rubbish on my newsfeed!
Time spent away from staring at your various technology screens, social media, and TV, allows for so much more time to soak up life around you. Especially if you are walking around outside and taking in what is going on around you. This can be a really peaceful experience.
Spending time with family and friends without the distraction of your devises is also extremely rewarding. I think that sometimes we don’t realise how distracted we can be by our phones, the TV and other technology. Giving your full attention to the people around you will really improve the quality of communication, and enrich your relationships. It is amazing how just being ‘present’ can make others around us feel so much closer to us, and visa versa.
How often do you allow yourself to just sit and think? And I mean think about life insightfully, and not about what others are thinking or doing. Even if you just set a time aside each day or each week to turn all of your devices off and allow yourself time to sit and think. Use this time for reflection and thinking about what’s going on around you and what aspects of your life you would like to focus on or work on. You will find that you will actually start having more ideas as you are freeing your mind to start thinking more deeply when it is cleared of the clutter and distraction.
I was unable to delete my Facebook account due to work and Uni commitments. However, I realised it was the app on my phone that was my only real access point anyway. Thus, you don’t have to make drastic moves to delete all of your accounts in order to make positive change! It is possible to identify the problem, and then to tailor the solution to suit your reality.
Depending on your work commitments and other life factors, different levels of digital detox may be possible for you to commit to. Here are some suggestions for different ways we can give ourselves a little break from our digital distractions:
- Go out and leave your phone at home for a few hours.
- Switch your phone off when your home at night or leave it in another room.
- Switch the TV off at meal times.
- Have your phone turned off while your at work.
- Don’t take your phone with you when you go out for social meals.
- Delete the social media apps from your phone.
- Allocate a day once a week to have your phone, iPad and computer turned off all day.
- Allocate a time each day to check your social media and only look at it in this scheduled time.
- Don’t take your phone to bed with you (leave it out of reach in the bedroom if you need it for the alarm clock; to avoid laying in bed on your phone).
- Only watch a certain amount of hours of TV per day (whatever you feel would be a healthy reduction for you).
- Go away on a weekend with your partner and don’t take any devises with you, including your phone.
- Take a trip to a retreat with the conscious intent to digitally detox.
These are just some suggestions. There are many more things each of us could do to limit our daily hours of unnecessary digital consumption. Sometimes the more drastic or confronting the detox we set for ourselves, will in fact be the most rewarding.
In the long run I believe that the less time we spend zombified in front of screens the more our lives will benefit! I truly believe that we can have huge breakthroughs in our thinking, realisations, relationships and mental health, if we make extreme changes and free ourselves from digital distractions! If you think it sounds impossible, or impractical, or that it wouldn’t work for you, then chances are you are one of the people that needs it the most.