We have now become accustomed to being always connected. Most of us have multiple devices, we have multiple social media accounts (sometimes multiple with the same platform for different audiences and purposes), and we have multiple email accounts. Our way of communicating and keeping connected with the outside world is primarily through the digital. It is not uncommon to hear that most people sleep with their smartphone next to their bed, it is the last thing check before we sleep and the first thing we check when we wake.
Is the way we are connected now, too much of a connection?
Too often I hear stories from people who feel anxious about this connection. They share their stories of constantly being in contact with others, feeling as though they need to connect, respond, or engage twenty four seven.
Is it time to disconnect? ...even slightly and set the boundaries for ourselves in when and how we connect. What would the benefits be?
A digital detox doesn’t have to be a total “no” to our various platforms and ways of communicating, it can be actually be a conscious effort to draw lines around when and what we engage with. We have a choice. We have an opportunity to find balance. We have a chance to enact self care.
How do we detox from constant connection?
Changing your habits is key. This is when we disrupt the patterns that are not so kind to ourselves and reconnect with what is important — after all, that email or tweet will be there tomorrow. Here are some tips to begin the process:
- Take time to connect face-to-face with friends. The research is loud and clear about seeking social support as a productive coping strategy. Although we can achieve this digitally nothing beats connecting with people face-to-face.
- Try not to touch your devices after a set time of the evening. Be kind to yourself and your mind. Allow yourself to stop thinking and just “be” with the time, space, people you are with.
- Charge your devices in a room that is not the bedroom. That way when you go to sleep and wake up in the morning you can focus on other activities for self care such as mindful breathing or preparing yourself to go for a mindful walk (with no device).
- You could try every second day not checking your social media platforms and email after you leave work. I love writing a list of what I’d like to follow up on the next day before I finish work. This gives me permission to forget and not think about what it is I have to do as I know I have captured it and can pick it up the next day.
- Be mindful, that is present and self aware of when and what you do. Re-train your habits of connecting at times when you don’t need to. Think, do I really need to check my email on my phone now, when I have just checked it 5 minutes ago? How could my time be best used? Have I given myself a break? Do I really need to check if people liked my last post on Instagram? Will my messages and replied to posts be there in an hour?
- Try the strategy of Calm InBox. This is a great movement that promotes checking your email once in the morning and once in the afternoon. It supports productivity and that there are many tasks to be completed in a day, and email is not the only one. This is what I put in my signature so those whom I am communicating with are aware of the strategy I use. On a extra plus side, many people comment about the strategy and how they will also apply it to their approach to communication and keeping a balance in how they approach being connected digitally.