How to ease yourself into a digital detox

A partial detox might be a better way to become less tech-reliant

While most of us will agree that a digital detox prohibiting late night scrolls through social media, a constant influx of Whatsapps and no netflix might be beneficial, shutting yourself off from the majority of communication can be daunting.

Aaron Harvey, the founder of mental health resource IntrusiveThoughts.org, tried to turn off his phone completely on a two week holiday but found that doing so actually caused him more anxiety. Harvey, who has obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and depression, found that a partial detox worked better for him so, instead of shutting off completely, he just turned off push notifications.

“I found that deleting social media increased my anxiety as I became overwhelmed when I went back on it,” he told Well and Good. “So going completely off of it wasn’t the best used of my time. It is okay to need that access connectivity.”

Instead, he found a balance “somewhere in the middle” which means he is not constantly checking his phone but "still gets the kick out of a like" on social media.

By limiting the notifications that flash up on your phone, it can reduce the feeling that you always have to respond quickly and consequently relieve the feeling of being bombarded.

“When you notice you are pointlessly checking notifications ever single time one comes through, you will recognise patterns within your behaviours that are completely unnecessary,” he said. “These could be pulling you from connections in the real world.”

Harvey says a key to positive mental health is being mindful, understanding your behaviour and recognising when and how to make improvements if you feel you are becoming overwhelmed. This can then be applied to technology and social media: recognising when something is becoming detrimental.

In addition to turning off push notifications, Harvey has also restructured his social media platforms to ensure he only gets the information he wants and uses them for the intended purpose.

For example, he has unfollowed friends on Instagram as he just uses it for art and design inspiration and has unfollowed everyone on Twitter except mental health, neuroscience and wellness expert accounts.

“Carve out what’s meaningful to you and delete everything else,” he advises.

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