There is a saying that goes like this: “smartphones, lazy users”. We have become so dependent on our phones that you would swear we were conjoined by the hip. The beauty of technology is the ability to help us connect with almost everyone, everywhere. However, we have also managed to become more disconnected from each other.
You spend every second glued to something bright. To the point that you hardly focus on what is going on around you. Our phones have become an extension of who we are. We even dress them in cool covers and get them the latest ringtones just to stay connected to the times. However, we can’t tell what is happening around us in real-time.
We are semi-present in most of the events we attend. Concerts have become an opportunity to collect footage for Tik Tok and vacation time has become a photo shoot for Instagram. We hardly have time for the things we appreciated anymore.
Fear not, though. I have taken it upon myself to come up with 7 strategies to implement in your everyday life that will help you limit your digital intake and hopefully sway you into a better wellness lifestyle.
1. Setting Time Boundaries
Setting a schedule is the best way to begin a new routine or cycle. It takes 21 days for something new to become a habit. My advice is to keep a calendar or a notepad for those who lack discipline. My best friend is the extreme one in the group, she usually goes cold turkey and cuts off her phone time on the spur of the moment. She wakes up during the week and sends me a text, saying ‘I won’t be online for a while, see you later’.
Her digital detox act always leaves me in stitches, because of the extreme act behind it. However, I understand her boundaries. She is not like my other friend who even forgets to charge her phone. She needs that push from time to time. A digital time boundary is the best way to curb your digital habits and get that much-needed detox and balance.
2. Create A No-Phone Free Zone
Going cold turkey like my best friend might not be the ideal way to detox for everyone. So, for everyone who prefers a steady ‘easy-your-way-into-it’ approach, this second tool is for you. Setting up boundaries requires discipline but creating a no-phone-free zone is the ultimate challenge.
Some people require a more out-of-sight tool to get things done. This tool requires you to remove yourself completely from your device. Here is an idea that I think you might love: find a corner in your house that you hardly focus on. We all have one. The kitchen, bedroom, or anywhere else where you barely spend time. My corner is the fridge. I hardly look in there but I know I clean it every week.
Get a fancy bag or box and place your phone in there for however long you want. This can be used in the bedroom when it’s time to sleep. The aim is to put your phone in a place that is out of reach. This will improve your sleep and deter you from that itch of scrolling through Instagram before bedtime. If this encourages you to visit a sleep retreat altogether, consider visiting Kamalaya to explore this type of wellness activity.
3. Download Apps That Limit Phone Time
I did not realise that I was spending over 2hrs on YouTube until they recommended a screen time notification to me. I don’t even remember setting it up but I am so grateful I did because it has helped me stay disciplined in my digital detox journey.
I am not sure about you, but I am a scholar at heart. What that means is that I tend to go down the information rabbit hole. Once I research something, I suddenly get an idea to research something else. The YouTube function made me want to find something I can implement to make all my apps, social media pages, and TV time goes off at the time I choose. The most amazing thing now is that iPhones have this app pre-installed in their settings already.
You don’t have an iPhone? Don’t sweat it. I found a very cool Android app that helps you set up a bedtime mode and helps you monitor your digital habits. This will help you see which app takes up much of your time and assist you in setting a time limit for it.
4. No Phones at Mealtime
This is my favourite strategy for distal detox. Simply because we have forgotten the importance of mealtimes. We are so busy chasing deadlines nowadays that we forget to eat. We’ve even gone to the extent of developing the habit of eating while we work. The same thing happens when we are home. Our beautiful dinner tables now come with placeholders for our books and things.
My friends and I came up with a rule after stumbling upon an article online. Ironic, right? The first person to touch their phones during lunch or dinner must buy everyone cake or drinks. Since nobody likes spending money unexpectedly, they hardly touched their phones. This has become something we became accustomed to. The rule helped us become more connected to and forget the craziness that surrounds us daily.
5. Re-discover Paper
When was the last time you indulged in a good James Patterson book or read a magazine that just took you away from your thoughts and relaxed you? Years, I assume. The world has become so digitalised that reading has become a thing of the past. People would rather listen to an audiobook or a podcast than immerse themselves in a classic book.
Reading a book feels more satisfying than reading a tablet. It also helps you to focus and relax as it manages your stress levels. It gives you a sense of accomplishment that you won’t be able to get from a tablet, computer, or cell phone.
When you are reading on paper, you are more aware than when you are reading from a screen. Take a drive to the bookstore and find yourself something that will take your face out of the screen and into a world of wonders.
6. Reduce Push-Notifications
Nothing annoys me more than Google pop-ups about third-party articles I have no intention of reading. That is when I realised that push notifications are rude disruptions that trick you into spending more time on digital devices than planned.
Getting constant updates on what is happening in the world can be very informative and vital. However, it can also be very distracting. Push notifications have a way of interrupting the things you are busy with. I am one of those people that prefer isolation when I am working and constant notifications just distance me from doing what I need to get done.
A solution would be to turn off notifications you can’t live without, like social media. Only activate important notifications that help your schedule.
7. Making Time for Human Connection
A wise man once told me a story about how he managed to keep his 30 years of marriage technology free. He said that every night when he gets home from work, he and his wife get a bottle of wine and glasses then sit on the veranda to unwind and chat. Those moments later turned into them cooking together and so on.
His theory had me thinking of how they had managed to create a tech-free zone without doing anything difficult. I realised that power outages have managed to connect my family even more. We would light a candle, dust off some board games, and see who is good at cheating in the Monopoly game.
We had managed to create a moment that technology could have not given us. At that moment, I realised just how important a digital detox is.
Do you need wellness activity for a digital detox with your loved one? Check out these 5 hot-air balloon rides for Valentine’s Day in South Africa. Have fun!