Health Digital detox, tips for washing your hands
Spending S too much time on your devices? Train yourself to break free with these tricks
In a world of constant texting, emails and newsfeed updates, it can be challenging g to disconnect. But clinical psychologist Gemma Cribb says that’s exactly what we should do to stay healthy.
“We need periods of technology- free relaxation to rejuvenate and get our nervous systems into balance. When we don’t get that ‘digital detox’ time, we can feel stressed, depressed and anxious.”
However, turning off your phone, laptop and TV is easier said than done, especially if you have a family. So Gemma has put together a digital detox plan to help you get back some balance.
WHY? YOU’LL BE LESS STRESSED
When we are always available to be contacted by work, friends or family we lose the ability to compartmentalise and therefore our stress levels can increase, says Gemma. She advises putting in place some boundaries for your time. Use your out-of-office to let people know when you’ll be available to respond to emails and phone calls and when you won’t. Turn your phone off for 20 mins a day
WHY? YOU’LL BE MORE PRESENT
This may seem like an impossible ask, but Gemma believes that having time without your phone is important. She says when we are continually getting notifications and updates updates, “our concentration can decrease, and we can feel a loss of joy and pleasure in our daily activities because we are never fully present in them”. Her advice is to try switching off your phone when you’re playing with your kids, relaxing or out with friends, and force yourself to not check it for at least 20 minutes.
WHY? YOU’LL FEEL MORE BALANCED
Apps like Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and Pinterest make it easier than ever to follow our friends and peers’ movements. “Using technology and social media to pay more attention to other’s lives and achievements and comparing yourself negatively against others can cause low self-esteem, anxiety and possibly depression,” says Gemma. If you can, reduce your time on these platforms, but if that’s not possible, remind yourself that social media is a “curated” view of people’s lives!
Wind down without TV
WHY? YOU’LL EXERCISE MORE
If you like to settle in for a long night of binge-watching or phone
surfing, you’re not alone. But using tech to wind down isn’t ideal. “When we use technology to relax, it can reduce our physical activity levels and maintain stress levels.” Gemma says try meditation – it activates the parasympathetic nervous system and the “rest and relax” response in our bodies. And for a real challenge, store your TV in the garage for a month and retrain yourself with new wind-down-from-work routines, such as an evening walk.
Catch up in person
WHY? YOUR FRIENDSHIPS WILL IMPROVE Social media and emails make it possible to go for months without seeing friends. However, a phone call or a face-to-face catch up is actually better for our health. “When people use technology to sustain friendships, good quality real-life relationships suffer,” says Gemma. “As well as this, not enough real social connection can lead to depression.” She suggests making regular monthly catch-ups with friends, planning six months in advance.
Have a digital-free bedroom
WHY? YOU’LL SLEEP BETTER
We now know the radiation from a mobile phone can affect the amount of time it takes us to reach a deep sleep, and ongoing research is connecting the blue light emitted from smartphones with depleted melatonin, the sleep hormone. Gemma says we can get “over-stimulated and lose the ability to ‘switch off’ and wind down”. Instead, buy an oldfashioned alarm clock, and if you need to have your phone in the bedroom for emergency phone calls or peace of mind, have it as far away from the bed as possible and keep it face down.