The Relationship Centre

The Mental Health Benefits of Taking a Digital Detox

What is a digital detox, and why should you consider one? Digital detox or digital cleanse basically means you take a break from your electronic devices. Think of it as a screen time fast of sorts to improve your life in some way. This is an easy task for some while others initially find it quite difficult.

In his Psychology Today article entitled “Social Media and Mental Health: Time for a Digital Detox?” Rob Whitley Ph.D. shares the following:

“A digital detox can give time for introspection and renewal. It can be a positive for mental and physical health and create a new space for alternative health-promoting activities. Try it and see for yourself.”

Here’s a bit more on what a digital detox looks like.

Considering a Digital Detox

One of the most common forms of digital detox involves taking a social media break. In particular, taking a break from social media can free up a lot of time and give you a new perspective on life. Some may go further and do a more general internet detox or technology detox.

Every digital cleanse will look a little different. Most people can’t altogether ditch their electronic devices for an extended time. That said, transformative stories abound for individuals who were able to walk away from digital devices for months or even years. Having said that, you don’t have to take such an extreme approach to see positive results.

How will your tech detox look? You could take a break one weekend out of each month or step away from electronic devices after certain hours each day. You may also want to consider an iPhone detox or social media detox or combination. The key is to do what works best for you to improve your physical and mental health.

What exactly can you expect to achieve from a digital detox? Although results may vary, here are some typical mental health benefits people experience who step away from their digital devices for a time.

Improved Sleep

Are you one of the many people who use electronic devices close to bedtime? Or worse yet, do you sometimes revert to screen time when you wake up during the night and can’t immediately fall back asleep?

If so, you will likely see improvement in your sleep patterns if you step away from electronics before bedtime and during the night. Ongoing sleep deficiencies can lead to serious physical and mental health challenges. But taking a break from devices during your rest hours can prevent your sleep cycles from being further disrupted.

Greater Connectedness with Others

One common realization for individuals going through digital detox is the improvement in relationships around them. Life went on while they were previously glued to the screen. They start to realize they often missed out because of over-preoccupation with their digital devices.

Maybe there were missed milestones in their children’s lives. Or perhaps a significant-other relationship regularly took the back burner due to screen time. Either way, stepping away from electronics leads to more investment in friendships and family.

And, yes, it’s possible to document your family’s events on social media and miss your appreciation for the moment because you’re so wrapped up in sharing it. Obviously, improving your relationships through screen detox will carry over into better mental health. The healthier your relationships are around you, the better you will feel about your life.

Improved Productivity

A new day dawns, and you likely have a long to-do list. At the day’s start, it can seem like you have unlimited energy and possibilities. But, too often, your day gets going, and you don’t accomplish as much as you hoped. While some of those interruptions can’t be avoided, some can.

Stepping away from electronic devices can free up a lot of time, allowing you to accomplish important goals and tasks in your life. In addition, your mental faculties only have so much daily ability and energy to engage in screen time.

This is of greater concern if your job requires consistent screen time. If you spend a lot of time at work in front of a computer and then come home and do the same thing, that obviously isn’t good.

Your productivity at work will likely eventually decline, and you may find yourself burned out or dreading your work. Suppose you intentionally limit your screen time when away from work. In that case, you’ll find that your work is easier and more effective while your time away improves too.

Increased Physical Activity

What is the one thing that all digital activities have in common? They’re all sedentary activities. You likely don’t hang out on social media while taking a jog, doing strength training, or practicing yoga.

All that sitting around spells bad news since so much of our days tend to lack adequate physical exertion as it is. We all need daily exercise to be both physically and mentally healthy. We talk about this a lot in our blog because it’s such a need in our culture to have good mental wellness. However, it’s often overlooked.

What can you do during your digital detox time? Why not spend it exercising? You’ll find plenty of mental health benefits if you do. After all, your mind cannot operate at its highest potential if your body is sick and unhealthy from sitting around too much.

Improved Mood and Positivity

Why do your mood and positivity improve when you step away from digital devices for a while? You could say it’s the sum total of all we just talked about and more. Better sleep, improved closeness with family and friends, greater productivity and physical activity will definitely boost your mood and positivity.

In addition, we’re regularly bombarded by negative news stories. Why? Primarily because bad news sells. But, bad news, especially in large doses, is terrible for your mental well-being. Still, it’s highly addictive for many. We tend to gravitate to negative news stories without thinking about how they will affect our outlook or mood.

If you take a break from digital devices, you’ll likely take a rest from all the sad stories out there and feel better as a result. Yes, you want to stay informed. At the same time, we all can only handle so much at a time. You also will be less likely to get sucked into the negative aspects of social media, such as jealousy and comparison.

Digital Detox Can Help You Break Addictive Cycles

Many who go through digital detox will tell you that it was initially challenging to take a break. In moderation, screen time can be healthy. However, it too commonly becomes an unhealthy coping strategy when life isn’t going well. It can turn into a time and soul-sucking attempt to numb your pain that takes more from you than it gives back.

Digital detox allows you to re-establish a healthier relationship with your digital world. Backing away often leads to the realization that you were too wrapped up in your screen time.

Some even feel like they were dealing with what they’d describe as digital device addiction. One of the tell-tale signs of too much screen time is a quality-of-life decline.

Has Your Mental Health Been a Struggle for You Lately?

We all go through times in life when we struggle mentally. Suppose you’ve been having a tough time lately, or you simply see room for mental health improvement. In that case, The Relationship Centre can assist you. We provide confidential therapy and proven methods to help you move towards greater mental wellness.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can assist you, feel free to get in touch. You’re also welcome to schedule an appointment with us. We look forward to meeting you!