How to Do a Digital Detox to Improve Your Mental Health

Life is all about balance. Unfortunately, when it comes to spending time online, people around the world are struggling to set limits and step away from their addictive mobile devices, computers, and TVs. In fact, the average American spends over seven hours a day on their digital screens.

Too much screen time can have adverse health effects on people of any age. Staring at screens can cause eye strain and sleep deprivation — and if you’re spending those seven hours sitting or lying down, you can make yourself more vulnerable to obesity and chronic pains in the neck, shoulders, and back. Aside from physical side effects, excessive screen time can be a cause of poor socialization, low self-esteem, and heightened stress.

To combat these negative effects of screen time, it can be beneficial to do a digital detox from time to time to help your body and mind reset. Here are five tips for doing a digital detox, along with further insights on its benefits for mental health.

1. Cross Off Items on Your To-Do List

Everyone has chores they’re constantly putting off. One productive way to spend your time away from screens is crossing off items that have been stuck on your to-do list for a while. For example, you can clean your oven — a task that many people neglect but should be done once every three months.

The best part of this activity is, you can end your digital detox feeling incredibly accomplished. You’ll no longer have to carry the stress of tasks that continuously remain undone. When you feel the weight lifted off your shoulders, you may even feel inspired to make a stronger commitment to your offline responsibilities and spend less time on screens in your future free time.

2. Focus on Self-Care

While spending time on your devices can be a relaxing way to spend your time, keeping your eyes glued to your screen can do more damage than good in the long run. Self-care activities, on the other hand, can supplement your mental and physical health, while offering the same perk of relaxation.

Self care can take many forms. During your digital detox, you can set aside time for meditation, which can help you clear your mind of the stressors in your life — including negative current events and the pressures of social media — or blow off some steam with walks or jogs around your neighborhood. You can also sip coffee on your patio while reading a book. Self-care activities don’t have to be complex.

When you set aside your screens for a day or a week, you may also notice that you’ll have more time for a healthy and complete nighttime routine. Rather than scrolling through your phone or watching a movie the hour before bedtime, which involves plenty of blue light that can ruin your sleep, you can commit to a skin care routine or have intimate conversations with your partner.

Your digital detox can also be the perfect time to treat yourself to a soothing bath with a colorful bath bomb. Since bath bombs can clog your drains over time, saving these products for your screen-free breaks can be a great way to make your digital detoxes more enticing.

3. Pick Up a New Hobby

Your digital detox should be a time that you enjoy, not one that causes immense boredom. Before you take a break from screens, identify a new hobby you’re interested in and make any purchases you need to pursue it.

Great hobbies that you can do solo (and without a screen) include reading, writing, and drawing — all of which can help you practice creative thinking or self-expression.

If you want to get more active, consider exercising outdoors, perhaps by practicing yoga, hiking, or going swimming. These hobbies don’t require any big purchases. Plus, they can give you an enormous serotonin boost, which can improve your mood throughout your digital detox, while helping you stay healthy and fit.

4. Do Your Digital Detox With Friends

Doing a digital detox alone can be tough. It’s human nature to want to connect with others, and our phones and social media offer the most convenient ways to do so. To reduce the temptation of picking up your nearest device or your TV remote, consider doing your digital detox with friends.

On top of gaining a group of people who keep you accountable, you can plan activities with your friends to keep your mind off of what you’re missing online and at work. For example, you can plan meetups in each other’s homes to discuss how you’re feeling about your digital detox and what you’re learning about the time you typically spend on screen. These conversations can help you get more out of your break and get more strategic about your screen time in the future.

5. Take a Formal Wellness Retreat

When screen time has taken an enormous toll on your mind and body, the best way to do a digital detox can be to plan a getaway from home. Plenty of wellness retreats around the world are focused on helping you do a complete reset and stay present in your travel experience. To ensure you’re leaving your screens behind, you can book a device-free hotel in Peru or head to the remote jungle of Rwanda.

Wellness retreats are all about practicing self care in all aspects of your life, including your diet and the way you think, so you’ll walk away feeling extremely refreshed and inspired to regularly step away from your screen.

Give Your Mind and Body a Break

When your mental health isn’t at its best, it’s hard to lend your attention to your relationships and yourself. Unfortunately, spending too much time on screens can be a contributing factor to deteriorating mental health, whether you’re experiencing anxiety, a loss of confidence, or something else. When you do a digital detox, you can set aside plenty of time to put yourself first — above other people and your companies — so you can return feeling relaxed and ready to take on the world.

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