3 ways to get unplugged if a digital detox scares the &*#@ out of you…

 
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In a world where we are more connected than ever before, we are also scarily more disconnected from each other than we’ve ever been.

Text and instant messenger have replaced phone calls and catching up in person.

The divide between work and home has become even more blurred with the sounds of emails arriving in your inbox interrupting dinner.

We have become obsessed with checking our social media accounts before bedtime, and our mobile phones have become the first thing we reach for in the morning.

I’m sure it’s not the first time that you’ve heard the term ‘digital detox’ (also known as a digital cleanse). You may have already unplugged and undergone a digital detox of your own.

The downside of constantly being ‘on’

Technology and social media are incredible for so many reasons. If you’re like me, facebook has allowed me to reconnect with school friends I’ve not seen for over 20 years, and Skype allows me to speak with my family back in the UK, and to work with clients all over the world.

But unfortunately, with the upside of being connected, comes the downside of being connected.

We live in a time when stress and anxiety levels are through the roof. If we’re not off we’re on, and our bodies and minds never truly have a chance to catch up, to rest, and to switch on the all-important ‘relaxation response’ (the opposite of the stress response). Over time our health can suffer as a result of not allowing ourselves some down time. There’s a reason mindfulness has become such a growing tool in keeping our sanity intact.

We need to unplug and find that ‘off switch’ once in a while.

But if the thought of being unplugged scares you senseless, and a digital detox is the furthest thing down on you ‘to-do list’, then I have 3 simple tried and tested ways to help you find your off switch:

1. First Set some rules

It’s your life and they are your rules. Start with where you feel most comfortable. For example, no checking of emails after 8pm, or sip some water before you reach for your phone in the morning.

Create some rules rather than letting technology and your phone make them for you.

2. Start small - Go 24 hours once a month (or once a fortnight)

Going 24 hours without social media is a great way to regain control AND increase your self-awareness. You may not realise how much you are tied to your devices, so setting a goal to go cold turkey for 24 hours will not only help you understand how it’s impacting upon your life, it’ll also bring awareness to your ‘habit’. And if being unplugged for 24 hours just seems too much right now, start with an evening and build up!

3. Create your own ‘reply time’ rules

So often we feel we ‘need’ to respond to an email, a text, an instant messenger STRAIGHT AWAY. I’ve got friends who describe the pressure they feel to respond immediately, as if not replying suddenly makes them a bad friend, or a bad employee. Chill. Seriously.

In the heightened state of the world we live in, it’s no surprise so many of us feel this way. But when did technology start controlling you? By not replying straight away, you’ll also teach people how to interact with you by the way you respond and do things.

So if you’re a chronic ‘reply straight away’ kinda person, I want you to challenge this response. What are you afraid of? What will happen if you don’t reply immediately? What would happen if you replied within an hour? How about within 4 hours?

Becoming unplugged and undertaking a digital detox doesn’t have to mean complete turkey for the next month, it simply means reinstating who’s in control of your time and of your energy. And that is most definitely you.