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Here's Why You Should Try a Digital Detox

Photo by Benjaminrobyn Jespersen

Juice cleanses seem to be all the rage lately, but have you ever considered trying a digital detox?

Technology is such an integral part of our everyday lives, it seems hard to imagine life without it. But the more humans interact with devices on a day to day basis, the more studies have found that too much screen time can actually have real health consequences, both physical and mental. Giving yourself some space away from your devices — whether it’s for an hour, a day, or even a week — could offer up a range of personal perks.

Photo by Vladimir Kudinov

Here are five good reasons to treat yourself to a digital detox:

1. It could help you fall asleep.

This isn’t great news for people who love watching Netflix before bed (guilty as charged), but blue light from our screens actually messes with our sleep cycles. Not only do screens keep our brains alert, but they actually suppress our production of melatonin, the hormone that controls our circadian rhythms. Experts recommend shutting down all screens an hour before bedtime to let our brains wind down. Some even suggest eliminating all electronic use from the bedroom entirely.

2. Your body will thank you.

Believe it or not, the extended use of electronics over time has long-lasting physical effects on the body. Grasping your phone too much can cause muscle tension and tendonitis, a painful inflammation of the tendons in your wrists and fingers. (Some people call this affliction the “texting claw”). It can also be the source of neck and back pain, headaches, and even damage to the spine — staring at our phones at a 60 degree angle is equivalent to putting 60 pounds of pressure on our necks. Be sure to stretch and alleviate some of that pressure if you’ve been looking at a screen for an extended period of time.

Photo by Andreas

3. It could lower your anxiety levels.

A 2017 study found that extended cell phone use can actually induce anxiety that operates on a positive feedback loop. The study suggests that phones keep us in a persistent state of anxiety (think about how you feel when your phone buzzes a couple times in a row. Scary, right?) The only relief from this anxiety is to look at our phones, and so the vicious cycle continues. In fact, teens who participated in the study showed symptoms of stress and anxiety when their phones were taken away from them and they could hear them ring. Putting down the phone for a few hours could alleviate some of these symptoms.

4. You’ll be more productive.

Being constantly bombarded with notifications is a surefire way to distract you from the task at hand. In fact, research conducted at Stanford University found that people who react to several sources of electronic information at a time aren’t as good at paying attention, recalling information, or switching from one job to the next as those who don’t multitask. Participating in a digital detox can help bring clarity and focus to both your work and your own creative projects.

Photo by Andrew Neel

5. You’ll have more quality time with friends and family.

While technology does connect us all in a sense, it can also lead to less engaging face-to-face conversations. According to researchers at Baylor University, “phubbing” (the act of snubbing your partner for a phone) can cause marital satisfaction to take a nosedive. The researchers also found that favoring a phone over a human being can bring on symptoms of depression and low satisfaction with life. A digital detox can help you forge deeper connections to the people in your life and help you communicate to them that they’re loved and cared about.

Need advice on how to start your own digital detox regimen? Check out the resources below!

8 Steps for Doing a Digital Detox Without FOMO

Step Away from the Smartphone: How to Do a Digital Detox

Have you tried a digital detox lately? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

Cecilia Seiter
Cecilia is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. One of her favorite writing topics is sustainability, especially as it applies to beauty + wellness and the future of technology. She is a graduate of the journalism department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is based in Los Angeles, CA.

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