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How to digital detox

Why it's worth winding down your screen time

When was the last time you truly switched off? It’s certainly easier said than done, especially when technology does such brilliant stuff. With the tap of a finger, we can open our eyes to a whole world of information. We can stand up and speak out on social media. We can feel as though we’re together with loved ones, even when we’re apart. But while staying connected can add great value to our lives, there’s much to be gained from turning off the tech and tuning in to life off-screen.¹ More than anything, it’s important to give your mind some room to breathe – something we like to call a ‘digital detox’.

If you’re thinking about ditching the devices (at least for a little while), how you define your digital detox is completely up to you. We all have different demands to juggle, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. We’ll help you figure out what works for you with tips and mindful methods.

Illustration of man wearing Christmas jumper taking a selfie next to a Christmas tree

Why should I embrace a digital detox?

It’s hard to imagine life without tech. In the UK, one poll found that 50% of teenagers reported they felt they were addicted to their mobile phones, while a whopping 78% said they check their digital devices hourly.² Another study by Nielsen found that the average US adult spends 11 hours each day listening to, watching, reading or interacting with media.³ During the Covid crisis, our screen time shot up. Streaming increased by at least 12% and global internet usage surging by around 50-70%.⁴ It’s easy to see why when nearly every face-to-face interaction is suddenly conducted digitally – school, meetings, catching up with friends, attending celebrations or even concerts and virtual pub quizzes.

We’ve cherished being able to jump great distances to share those moments, but it’s understandably left many of us feeling fatigued with the fast pace of the virtual world. There are a few good reasons you might want to take some time to unplug and ground yourself in a (slightly) slower pace of life.

Stress

Lots of things fight for your attention online. We triple-screen while the group chat goes ping, ping, ping. It’s hard to imagine life without this, but research suggests tech can contribute to stress. One study found that people who use their phone more regularly experience greater levels of anxiety when they are separated from it, compared to those that spend less time on their devices.⁵ If stress is causing you strain, we have some tips to help you relax and centre your thoughts.

Sleep

If you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep, consider whether your sleep patterns are disrupted with longer screen time. Evidence suggests those who use their devices close to bedtime tend to report worse or less sleep.⁶ Where you use them can also be significant. Some studies note a correlation between in-bed social media use and a higher likelihood of experiencing anxiety, insomnia and shorter sleep duration.⁷

Work-life balance

We love staying connected, but many of us find this makes it more difficult to establish boundaries between work and leisure. Like, why is Susan from work emailing at 8.23pm?! We cave in to doing extra work at home because we want to do our best. Even on holiday, we sit by the pool scrolling through social media, eyes peeled on what everyone’s doing back home. If the line between work and play is getting too hazy for you to enjoy your downtime, a digital detox may help you firm up a better balance.

Self-image

Spend time on social media and you’ll probably find yourself comparing your own life to those of your friends, celebrities, even total strangers. We may know deep down that people mainly post the good stuff, but social media promotes a constant comparison with others, fuelled by metrics, followers and likes that can leave us feeling inadequate. Take some time out of the bubble to focus on what’s important in your own life, away from the pressure to compare.

Fomo

You’ve heard of FOMO – fear of missing out – that feeling that you’re not having the experiences everyone else is having. Constant connectivity can feed this fear. FOMO can also be the desire to keep checking your devices for fear you’ll miss an important text, DM or post. If it’s getting in the way of the present, doing a digital detox is one way to break the cycle. You can set limits without cutting off entirely from the digital world, finding a balance that serves you best.

Two Women Sitting on a Couch

How to digital detox at Christmas

Whether you’re eager to get knee-deep in the Christmas spirit or you’re looking for ways to make more of the quality time with friends and family, a digital detox can help you focus your energy on what’s going on around you. Particularly as many of us have been further apart from our loved ones this year, distance away from the digital world can help us truly value our time in the company of one another.

Make it work for you

You don’t have to cut ties with the digital world altogether. You can define your digital detox as a time to become more aware of your own personal challenges around screens and gain an understanding of what might help you overcome them. We might rely on technology to keep in touch, do the Christmas shopping or get organized, but you can find ways to help you live with technology in a healthier way.

Be realistic

Your detox can be entirely defined by you. Some people will be able ditch technology completely for an extended amount of time, but if you’re far away from your loved ones at Christmas, you might want to be plugged in at certain parts of the day. Perhaps try a mini detox at a time that suits you. Shut down the laptop or just log out of your work email and social media. Even if it’s just for an evening, enjoy some time away from digital distractions or texts that can wait until tomorrow.

Set limits

If you feel a little swamped by notifications, setting limits can help to free up some headspace. Maybe leave your phone in a separate room or switch it to airplane mode when you want to focus or live in the moment. This might be when you’re enjoying Christmas dinner together or watching a film, going on a long walk with loved ones, or in the hours before bed so you can ensure a good night’s sleep.

10 Digital Detox Tips

1. Try to be mindful of your screen time. You could set limits or reminders or even use monitoring apps to prompt you.

2. Let friends and family know so they can support you or so they’re aware there might be a delay in your reply.

3. Turn off all banner-style notifications, pop-ups or sound alerts on your apps.

4. Make your bedroom a tech-free zone. You could keep your phone in another room overnight. If you need to wake up at a certain time, turn up the volume on your alarm so you’ll hear it when it’s further away, or consider buying an alarm clock.

5. Put your phone on airplane mode and only switch it on when you need to use it.

6. Don’t take your phone into the bathroom. Make this tech-free zone your very own spa. Use your focus to tune in to the senses and enjoy a long soak in a foamy bubble bath or slather on your favourite skincare.

7. If you don’t want to leave home without your phone, you can always keep it at a distance when you want to focus on other things, like under the table if you’re out to dinner or in your locker at the gym.

8. When you’re at home, keep your phone in a central place. Instead of carrying it around, aim for this to be the only place you check your phone.

9. Convert your screen to black and white. Suddenly the lure of the internet becomes far less appealing.

10. Spring clean your social media. When you scroll through your feed, think about which posts make you feel good and which ones do the opposite. If what you’re seeing is taking away from your confidence or frame of mind, you can block, mute or unfollow.

Video thumbnail of influencer, Venetia la Manna, smiling

Social media distancing with Venetia La Manna

Activist and podcaster Venetia La Manna shares some tips on social media distancing, drawing upon her own experience of digital detoxing. From going dark for the weekend to switching off your phone an hour before you sleep or rise and shine – discover achievable goals that can work for you.

Woman sitting down with mask on

The real magic of Christmas

For us, the real magic of Christmas is in the messy, making-it-up-as-you-go-along, laugh out loud moments. It’s badly wrapped presents, wonky Christmas trees, embarrassing Christmas jumpers and overly competitive board games. These are the joyfully imperfect moments of togetherness that make the best memories. Nothing should get in the way of that – not even a good meme. Okay, maybe a really funny one…but if tech is taking a negative toll on your mental wellbeing, try to pull the plug from time to time and find peace in the present.

Check out our new body-loving gifts and stocking-sized surprises for making that magic real for every beautiful body on your Christmas list.