Digital Detox

Digital Detox

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May 01, 2023 • 4 min read
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People have been playing with the idea of time travel for centuries. While sci-fi movies portray this concept as something useful, the way we travel in time nowadays is troubling. Whenever we binge-watch or scroll for "just a moment," several hours can pass as if they were minutes. We argue that nothing else is going on, we could miss some breaking news, we need to stay in touch, or we are having fun. Though screens can give us immediate satisfaction, this satisfaction comes at the cost of long-term happiness and health. The decline in mental health, especially among teenagers, is directly associated with the rise of smartphones.

We must learn to disconnect from screens and connect to ourselves.

Technology is highly addictive. Every time we impulsively connect to a screen, we disconnect from life. When we fast-forward, we will have missed out on good times. Of course, technology is not bad; however, it is worth learning how to use it more intentionally and when not to use it at all. Digital detox is a routine that helps us reconnect to ourselves and use technology more intentionally.

Digital detox helps you reconnect to yourself.

Social media has become popular, mainly because of the fear of missing out (FOMO). Ironically, we had better fear missing out on real relationships while being glued to our screens without having clear intentions as to what we seek. A real timeline, which we can fill with lasting positive experiences, is only revealed behind the screens. When we look around, we might notice what Dan Millman concluded in one of his books:

There is never “nothing” going on. There are no ordinary moments.
Rupert is noticing the beauty of ordinary moments.

The beauty of simple moments may make us want more of them. And that is a good addiction.


Here are some benefits of a digital detox:

  • Improved sleep
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Better focus and concentration
  • Improved physical health
  • Enhanced relationships
  • Increased creativity
  • Better mental health
  • Improved memory
  • Reduced dependence on technology
  • Increased happiness
  • Better posture
  • Enhanced mindfulness

Action steps

To resist the instant gratification that screens offer and invest in your long-term happiness and health, you can reserve the time and space you spend away from screens. Here is how you can carry out a digital detox:

  1. Schedule a daily or weekly block to find sanity, such as on Sunday mornings or evenings after a certain hour—primarily when you aim to fall asleep easier and sleep better.
  2. Engage in screen-free activities to be more mindfully present, such as exercising, talking to or listening to a friend, spending time in nature, eating, or walking your dog.
  3. Create technology-free zones where screens are not allowed, such as in the bedroom, bathroom, garden, or balcony.
Rupert is learning how to survive without screens.

A smartphone can make you less smart. According to research, a smartphone on your desk or in your pocket negatively impairs your cognitive abilities. Ideally, keep your smartphone in a different room, especially when performing cognitive work that requires focus. Again, smartphones are not bad, but you should use them with intention.

Modern personal devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, computers, and smartwatches provide options that can promote health, focus, and awareness if set up correctly. Here are a few suggestions to consider:

  • Notifications: Disable all unnecessary notifications. The key is to turn off both the sound and visual clutter for all applications that are not essential. If those notifications are necessary but not time-sensitive, you can have them aggregated for later without having them displayed on a locked screen.
  • Focus/DND mode: Devices can be configured to be in a focus mode or do not disturb (DND) mode to suppress unnecessary notifications when you need to focus or rest. If you need to be reachable for your loved ones, you can mark individual contacts as exceptions to override these settings and receive notifications.
  • Night shift: Screens that emit blue light prevent the release of the hormone that helps you fall asleep. If you need screens in the evenings, you can activate automatic night shift to lower blue light exposure after sunset.
  • Screen time: Modern devices can monitor your usage trends across multiple devices. They can reveal unhealthy patterns, such as increased weekend social media consumption. You can act upon these insights and enforce daily limits on your devices, even by application.

Depending on the device manufacturer, you may have more or fewer features.

Choose better news

Mainstream media shows more negative news than good news, which can have a detrimental effect on your well-being. Human brains are wired to pay more attention to bad news, and the mainstream often exploits this by selecting a small, exceptional reality that is primarily negative and putting it on the front page to increase sales. One might believe that the world is on the brink of an apocalypse. Yet, is the world that bad?

Despite our challenges, the world is not collapsing—quite the opposite! In almost every measurable category, life is better now than ever.

To create a better future, we also need to focus on the light in the world. We do that by choosing better news to learn about what is going well and constructive solutions to what is going wrong. This type of journalism is called constructive journalism.

Rupert prefers constructive journalism to prevent losing hope.

The point here is not to close our eyes to adverse events but to counterbalance the negative news and learn to respond constructively to the world’s challenges.

Choose media that leaves you hopeful.

Now or never

For the next two weeks, do a digital detox of your choice. Create a reminder.