How a digital detox can be beneficial following a year of online studies

Zoe Bush·21 June 2021·6 min read
How a digital detox can be beneficial following a year of online studies

Over the past year, everybody has had to adjust to moving their lives online. Whilst it has been useful to be able to use digital platforms to maintain our daily activities, an increase in screen time is never beneficial to our mental or physical health. This is where the importance of digital detox comes in. A digital detox is refraining from using a digital device such as a phone or a computer for a period of time. This could be any amount of time from a few hours a day to one day a week, or even a whole week off depending on what suits you. Students have spent so much of this past year stuck in their student accommodation and learning and socialising through a screen; with the final term coming to a close it’s time to ditch the digital devices and immerse ourselves in real-life interactions.

Why bother with a digital detox?

In our current digital age, dependence on electronic devices is a standard way of life for most people. There are many reasons why you might want to try a digital detox; this could be because you feel overly attached to your phone or computer and this is adding stress to your life, or perhaps because you wish to enjoy time to yourself without being interrupted by notifications. Technology is known to have a stressful impact on our lives, there is a constant pressure to keep up with texts, emails and social media notifications which can be alleviated by changing our relationship with digital devices. By changing how we use digital devices we can improve sleep habits, reduce worry and create a more positive outlook on life, all of which will help students to recharge at the close of the academic year.

Signs a digital detox might benefit you

After spending so much time attached to a screen, it can be difficult to recognise when you are in need of a break. For many of us there is a constant struggle with balancing and moderating how we use technology. Here are some signs you should consider a break from your devices:

1. You constantly feel the urge to check your phone

Constant notifications have conditioned us to feel the need to check our phones even when there is nothing new there. If you struggle to complete a task because you keep picking up your phone, then it might help to refrain from using your devices for a time. Turning your phone off or putting it on do not disturb whilst you are occupied by other things can also help to break this habit.

2. You fall down a digital rabbit hole

Technology can suck us in and make us spend more time on our devices than planned. The never-ending scroll of social media moves seamlessly from one post to the next, making it difficult to put down your phone. This use of digital devices is unrewarding and can make us feel guilty for wasting time.

3. Device usage disrupts your sleeping pattern

If you often find yourself staying up late because you can’t put down your phone, then your device usage is negatively impacting your sleeping pattern. Research suggests that the blue light from our phones makes it more difficult to fall asleep and to wake up the next day, it is suggested to stop using digital devices an hour before bed so as not to harm your sleep cycle.

How to do a digital detox

Whilst all of these suggestions are beneficial, there is no one way to do a digital detox. It is important and more realistic to make changes which suit your lifestyle. Refraining from using your devices doesn’t have to mean a complete detachment from anything electronic; device usage can be adapted to suit your needs, by creating personal restrictions and ensuring that your relationship with your devices improves, rather than damages, your health.

Some people wish to completely disconnect for a period of time, whilst this may not be possible or even preferable for others. If you rely on devices for university, work or other obligations you might try refraining from using devices during the evenings or at the weekend. Setting boundaries on which devices or connections are approved to interrupt your time can help you to regain control over how you use your devices. You might want to set boundaries over specific times such as when you are spending time with others or when you are going to bed.

The most important thing is to make it work for you, a digital detox can take whatever form you choose. You can give up all devices or just focus on just one, you could pick one day a week to go device-free or give devices up for a whole week, you could even set boundaries for one aspect of one device such as social media or emails.

Changing how we use our devices can feel daunting, but the countless benefits are ultimately relieving. Many students have felt the pressure of constant connectivity throughout the past academic year and now that university responsibilities are lightening up it is an excellent time to focus on your well-being by trying a digital detox.

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