Is it time for a #digitaldetox?

We’re spending more time than ever on our digital devices – anywhere from one to two hours a day. And with a daily onslaught of texts, emails, calls and push notifications, our screens rarely, if ever, go dark.

Yes, technology makes our lives easier. But research suggests that it’s also become an addiction. Every new notification or text triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that drives us to seek rewards. And this feeling keeps us coming back for more.

This vicious cycle is taking a toll on our health, mental wellbeing and relationships. Surveys and studies have reported an association between technology and depression, anxiety, and decreased marital satisfaction.

So, when’s the last time you switched off? Can’t remember? Then a digital detox could be just what your life needs. Here are 5 easy ways to unplug.

  1. Disable your phone’s push notifications for social media apps – including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, news sites, dating apps –anything that sends an alert when someone contacts you or likes a post.
  2. Instead of sleeping with the phone next to your bed, use an alarm clock. And when it goes off, give yourself from 10 minutes to an hour to ignore your devices as you prepare for the day ahead.
  3. Gradually power off. Start by putting your phone down for 15 minutes without looking at it. The next day, take a 30-minute break from technology. Work up to taking a full-day plunge.
  4. Establish back-ups. Use technology to share that you’ll be going off line. At least one week in advance, send emails, texts, and tweets. Set up an out-of-office away message. Write in your social media profiles that you’ll be unreachable.
  5. Be prepared for temptation. Have activities on hand to distract you when the urge to check your phone or laptop strikes. Consider buying magazines, going for a walk, or working to be fully present in the moment.