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Reduce Stress with a Digital Detox

Today we are more connected than ever and spend a lot of our days on screens, whether at work or in our downtime. While technology has made our lives easier in so many ways, being constantly connected has its downsides. The constant ping of email notifications, the mindless scrolling, and the sheer amount of information we are bombarded with is making us stressed out and distracted. Here’s how you can reduce stress with a digital detox.

What is a digital detox and why do it?

A digital detox is simply making an intentional decision to take a break from technology and screen time. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Being able to communicate instantly, be constantly entertained, see what friends and family are up to, and Google anything you want to is addictive. Tech companies have designed algorithms that keep you on their platforms-and who doesn’t enjoy the dopamine hit of one of your posts getting loads of likes?

The problem is, our constant connectivity is impacting negatively on our mental health. Research studies have shown that excessive screen time is associated with higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness. It is also hurting our ability to focus as well as not allowing our brain to get the rest it needs.

Giving employees the ‘right to disconnect’ to reduce stress

One particular source of stress is the pressure to be ‘always on’ and available to respond to work messages and emails out of hours. Research published by Business in the Community found that 55% of employees felt pressured to respond to calls or check emails out of working hours. Just 45% said they were able to fully switch off from work.

The switch to remote and hybrid working since the pandemic has blurred the lines between work and life even more, with many remote workers saying they feel the need to be constantly available.

This has led to several countries including Portugal, Belgium and Kenya passing laws that give workers the ‘right to disconnect.’ This means employees are not obliged to answer calls, texts, or emails outside of their working hours, including weekends and public holidays. Employers face fines if they break the rules. Legislators hope that the new laws will reduce stress, prevent burnout, and improve work-life balance and productivity.

The benefits of a digital detox

There are many benefits of disconnecting from screens including:

Better mental health

Disconnecting from screens means less stress and anxiety, better focus, and more head space to be creative.

Better sleep

Scientists used to think that the blue light from screens impacted our  melatonin production,, however, thinking has since changed in this regard, and blue light is seen as less of a problem for our sleep hormones than it once was.  Nonetheless, screen time itself impacts our sleep, as the stimulation from engaging with digital devices keeps us awake and wired for longer.  . Banning devices from your bedroom can help you get a good night’s rest.

Feeling more connected with others

How would it feel to actually talk to your partner instead of sitting side by side on the sofa scrolling on your phones? Or meeting friends for a meal and drinks without feeling the need to take pictures and post online.

Making you more productive

Estimates suggest that once your concentration is broken, it can take 20 minutes to fully refocus on what you were doing. Without the temptation of your devices, you will be far less distracted.

Improving your physical health

You’ll feel fitter and healthier if you replace your hours of watching Netflix with a walk or a family bike ride.

Digital detox strategies to reduce stress

If you want to experience the benefits of a digital detox, here are our tips.

·         Avoid using screens for an hour or two before bed.

·         Limit screen time during the day.

·         Turn off any non-essential notifications to avoid distractions when you are working.

·         Check your email at set times to improve productivity

·         Take regular screen breaks to stretch or go for a walk.

·         Be mindful when using tech. Does your searching or scrolling have a purpose or are you doing it out of habit?

·         Curate the content you see. If you find yourself doom scrolling the news or there are certain accounts or websites that negatively impact on your mental health including your self-esteem, unfollow them. Make a point of engaging with positive, inspiring, and educational content instead.

When used with purpose, technology can add a lot to our lives and it makes so many things easier. But the way to reduce stress, focus better, and feel more connected with others is knowing when to disconnect.