Use the first month of 2018 to perform a digital detox and start the year with less apps, less scrolling and more time for face-to-face interactions and walks in nature.
The most important element of a digital detox is to ease yourself into it because going cold turkey is going to make it way harder to stick to.
Here are some tips to help you detox your digital world:
1 Make a list of what you want to do more of
Everyone’s got a mental list of what they would do more often if only they had the time. Read more books, visit their parents more often, or finally get started on that cross-stitch kit they bought in 2010. Write down all the things you wish you did more of and start doing them in the time you would usually reserve for mindless scrolling. Less pinning pictures of unicorn cakes on Pinterest and more actual baking.
2 Give yourself time limits
We know cutting yourself off completely may be too extreme – try just cutting down. Make a rule that you will stop scrolling through Instagram after five minutes instead of until you’ve seen every single photo and watched every single story. Or give yourself half an hour of phone time in the morning, at lunch and in the evening. Knowing you get a bit of digital time will make you more likely to stick to it. Think of it like having a little square of dark chocolate when you’re on a diet.
3 Be more social
It’s corny when old people complain that social media is making us less social but Granny’s got a point. Make an agreement with yourself to stay off your phone when you’re hanging with friends or family. If your friends are just as bad, get everyone to pile their phones on the table so that no-one can touch theirs. Or just stare awkwardly until they realise how rude and weird it is to be reading Twitter while you’re literally sitting with your hilarious and amazing friends.
4 Stop night-time scrolling
We are all guilty of spending the last hour or so of our day with our face centimetres away from our phones in bed. This has been shown to have a negative effect on your sleep patterns so it’s time to stop. This is the perfect time to get into meditating or stuck into a book instead. There is a way to scroll through your phone without ruining your sleep but it involves buying special light-reflecting glasses – if you are willing to go this far.
5 Turn off push notifications
You don’t need to have push notifications on for any of your social media apps, TBH – if something is truly urgent the person will phone you. Turn them off and instead you can check your notifications during one of your designated social media time periods. You’ll probably find yourself skimming over most of them, whereas if your push notifications were on you would have given each individual notification minutes of your precious time and attention.
Cleanse your feeds so that the time you do spend online is only full of things you want to see. On Twitter and Facebook you can unfollow or mute people whose opinions make you roll your eyes (I’m looking at you, Heather from high school). There is no similar option on Instagram but just because you’re friends with someone IRL doesn’t mean you have to appreciate their sunset shots. They will either not notice that you unfollowed them or eventually forget and move on. If they are truly offended then sorry, but did you really want someone who petty in your life, anyway?
7 Get an alarm clock
Remember those things that your mom used to wake you up for school with? A great way to ban bedtime phone use is to actually leave your phone in another room and use a good old-fashioned alarm clock to wake you up in the mornings.
8 Allow Nothing But Phone Calls
Most people’s biggest worry about switching their phone off or going on airplane mode for the day is the same thing: what if something happens and people can’t get hold of me? The likelihood of an emergency happening is (hopefully) pretty rare, however, you can set your mind at ease while still being relatively offline. Turn off your Wi-Fi and your mobile data on your phone. Now you are able to receive phone calls and SMSes but nothing else.
9 Scratch Your Itches
Ask yourself what it is you get from certain social media channels and why you enjoy it. Do you like Twitter for the jokes, Instagram for the aesthetic, or Facebook for keeping up to date with friends? Okay, now recreate those feelings IRL. Go to a comedy show, go for a scenic walk or organise a coffee catch-up with a friend. Now you’re getting the satisfaction while making meaningful memories – yay!
Read more about mental health
Read more about tech