How to digital detox: 7 tips to help you unplug

"OK Google, how can I have a better relationship with my phone?”

Living in a digital world

It’s incredible what we can do with the tiny screens in our pockets. But the benefits of a technological world comes with an opportunity cost: digital living has a negative affect on our health. Heavy phone use has been connected to increased anxiety, weaker cognitive function and poor sleep quality. Social media in particular has been shown to worsen our emotional wellbeing, sparking jealousy, low self esteem and lack of empathy.
There’s a few easy ways for you to do a digital detox and build a better relationship with your phone.
Key Takeouts
  • Turn off notifications and add time limits to your apps to prevent distraction
  • Buy an old school alarm clock to start the day right
  • Cleanse your social media accounts, or delete them entirely
  • Have designated ‘tech free time’ at dinner
  • Downgrade your phone
  • Go off-grid for a digital detox to kickstart good habits
Put your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’
Put your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’

1. Turn off notifications

It takes nearly 30 minutes for us to refocus after we get distracted. Whether it’s Slack, Teams, Whatsapp or Instagram, the easiest way to be distracted is by dopamine (or anxiety) inducing notifications. By removing notifications you can check your phone on your terms, rather than when your phone prompts you to.
To do this on iPhone, go to Settings > Notifications and then select which apps you’d like to allow or disallow. Alternatively, pop your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode to stop your phone lighting up.
Set time limits for social media apps
Set time limits for social media apps

2. Add time limits to your apps

Social media apps are built to be addictive, which is why it’s so easy for us to lose hours of our week doom scrolling. Take control of your app usage, but setting up physical reminders to stop scrolling. Try downloading Forest which helps you stay focused and plants trees at the same time.
For iPhone users, you can add time limits to your apps by going to Settings > Screen Time > App Limits. When you hit the time limit, your phone will quit the app and freeze it from your home screen.

3. Buy an old school alarm clock

87% of us check out phones within 15 minutes of waking up. This primes our brain for distraction throughout the rest of the day by giving us a dopamine kick. By using a traditional alarm clock, you can leave your phone away from the bedroom. By removing your phone morning and night, you’ll have a better quality sleep and a more productive day.
Digital Detox: Buy an traditional alarm clock
Digital Detox: Buy an traditional alarm clock

4. Give your social media a cleanse

Social media connects us to friends and family and helps us discover new trends or destinations. But it can also be a breeding ground for anxiety, comparison and FOMO. Take control of your feed by unfollowing accounts that don’t make you feel good, or using blocking apps to remove explore feeds.
You could even take inspo from apps after finding them “overstimulating, to be overwhelming”. Try deleting them for a few days or a week and see how you feel.

5. Take ‘tech free’ breaks at dinner

Just the mere presence of your phone on the table can reduce the quality of your conversation and even reduce your levels of empathy. So even if you’re not checking your phone, you’re not fully present.
Try doing mini digital detoxes by taking designated ‘tech free breaks’ at meal times. Leave your phone in another room, or at home, when you’re out with friends, family or your partner.
Digital Detox: Downgrade to a dumbphone
Digital Detox: Downgrade to a dumbphone

6. Downgrade your phone

The return of the Nokia 3310. Sales of ‘dumbphones’ have been on the rise in an effort to help switch off (we’ve contributed to this for our cabins). Why not try downgrading your phone for a digital detox, even if for a short space of time, and go old school with your communication device.
If a flip phone is too far, try limiting your 4G package to control how much you use the web. If you find yourself opening up a new tab every time you're bored or stressed out, then limiting your data plan might be a good incentive to reduce your phone use.

7. Go off-grid for 3 days

On average, we check our phones around 150 times a day. That’s a lot of distraction. Try spending 72 hours without your phone at a digital detox cabin. Three nights is the optimum time for you to recognise bad habits and the dependency you have on your devices. As well as realising very few things are urgent, being away from the noise of notifications will give your mind and body time to recharge.
Let friends, family and colleagues know you’ll be going offline for a few days to ease the worry or FOMO on notifications. At Unplugged, we give you an old school nokia for emergencies so you can still connect if you need to.
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Increase your self-awareness

You don't need to be digital-free all the time, but there are ways to disconnect more often and increase our self-awareness about how much we use technology in our lives.
It's not about living in analog; it's about having a better relationship with your phone.

Unplugged is a digital detox brand that kickstarts your journey on reducing your digital dependency and improving your mental wellbeing. With off-grid cabins only 1-2 hours from city life, you can lock your phone away and switch off for a 3 nights digital detox. Going off-grid can help you get out in nature, reduce your screen time and sleep better at night. Book your digital detox here.

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