Happy 2020!  I hope you all survived the holiday.  There is so much to love about the holidays, but at the same time there can be so much stress and anxiety also.

Especially with how materialistic they have become, many of us spend so much time running around buying and wrapping gifts, that we lose precious time that we could be spending with those we care about.

This is also in alignment with the book I am currently reading, Digital Minimalism, by Cal Newport.  It discusses how our phones and many apps that are used on our phones have an inherently addictive quality to them.  Many of us don’t even realize the negative effects that our phones are having on our well-being.

Do You Control Your Phone? Or Does It Control You?

Don’t get me wrong, I love having a cell phone.  What is there not to love? You can take great pictures, efficiently communicate via phone, text or email and watch your favorite show or youtube video and shop to your hearts content.  The big question is… are you the one that is controlling your phone or is it the other way around?  Do you find that you are constantly checking your phone when it beeps and dings?  Even if it doesn’t beep or ding, you are still checking your phone religiously just out of habit, boredom or just wanting to check the time?  Suddenly an hour has passed and you don’t even realize that you have been consumed with your phone.

Studies have found that the more time you spend on social media, the lonelier you feel.  One was a study done by Brian Primack and his team at the University of Pittsburgh and was published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine in July 2017, which found that the more someone used social media, the more likely they were to be lonely.  The more time you spend “connecting” to people online, the more isolated you become.  The more time we spend online, the more it takes away the face time we experience with people one on one.

Benefits Of An Annual Digital Detox

Like doing an annual nutritional cleanse, to clean out the impurities in your body.  In today’s modern, “plugged” in time, it is also a good idea to do a “digital detox.”  What is a digital detox you ask?  It is not about throwing your phone into the toilet.  Instead, cutting out all of the superfluous platforms that you don’t need for work (games, social media platforms, and newsfeeds and blogs that you read for leisure and taking a break from them for 30 days.  Literally, you need to remove them from your phone.

Don’t believe you spend that much time on your phone?  Try downloading the Moment app on your phone which will track your cell phone usage and see if your “perceived” amount of time on your phone is in line with your “actual” screen time.

Cutting anything out of your life will be a challenge, but I certainly think it is worth a try.  If you feel resistance to the idea of doing a digital detox, it means that you have EVEN more of a reason to try it.

Living a full, intentional life is not easy.  It requires spaciousness, thoughtfulness and critical thinking.  Most of us do not take the time to deeply think about of our lives, it makes sense that the last thing we want to think about is how our phone usage might be adversely affecting our lives.  One of the biggest fears for people that embark on a digital detox is boredom.   To combat this, before you start your digital detox take some time to write down some leisure activities that you enjoy; reading, dancing, playing games, coloring, doing puzzles, cooking, etc.  Consider picking up a new activity or trying to learn something new; painting, crocheting, pottery or even volunteering your time.  Create a list that you can turn to when you start feeling anxious or “bored.”  Habits are hard to break, especially if you are part of the iGen (smartphone) generation that is constantly connected.   As they have grown up with iPhones, social media, youtube and constant access to the internet.

The iGen generation has the highest levels of anxiety than any other generation. “Rates of teenage depression and suicide have skyrocketed,” asserts Jean Twenge the world’s foremost expert on generational differences in American Youth.

How To Digital Detox

First, create awareness on how much you are on your phone, download the Moment app and start tracking your phone usage.

Second, create a digital detox plan.  Start small, maybe it is removing Instagram or the facebook app from your phone, or committing to turning off your phone from 8pm to 7am.  Make one small step towards reclaiming your time.  Make sure to replace the time with a leisure activity that you enjoy.

Are you ready to do your own digital detox in 2020?  If so, join me!  As a family we are planning on practicing the Jewish custom of Shabbot, where starting on Sundown on Friday you cease all work, but for us it will be more focused on ceasing use of all electronic devices (smartphones, laptops and ipads) from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.   It feels a little daunting just thinking about it.  If it wasn’t daunting, it wouldn’t be challenging us.

Please comment below on what digital changes you might experiment with in the New Year!

Happy 2020!