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The 5 Red Flag Signs You Urgently Need A Digital Detox
In 2023, it’s nearly impossible to detach from our phones. We need them for everything from phone calls to Googling that headache symptom – is it a brain tumour?! – to keeping up-to-date on work emails and Slack updates, to doomscrolling on TikTok into the night.
But with researchers finding that social media use is linked to depression, it’s always a good idea to consider our relationship with our smartphones. Especially if you’re finding that you’re using your phone more than usual, or that it’s keeping you from connecting with your favourite people in real life.
Here are some signs you need a digital detox…
You feel anxious and stressed
If you’re getting that horrible butterflies-in-the-tummy feeling (and not the good, loved-up kind!) when you’re using your phone, or thinking about your phone, then it’s probably time for a break.
Why do we get that feeling? It’s thought that the at-times distressing news and content we come across on our phones, as well as the act of checking them frequently, can cause a cortisol (the stress hormone) spike in our bodies.
If you’re always tired
You know how it goes – you watch some YouTube videos to wind down before going to sleep, or power down with some TikTok scrolling, and next thing you know, it’s 2am in the morning and you have to get up at seven.
The next day, you’re yawning and your brain has turned into a pile of mush. That’s when you know your phone is ruling your life.
You’re overly conscious of your follower count
If you’re getting more preoccupied with followers and likes in your digital world, rather than how your friendships are doing in the real world, it could be time for a digital detox.
Recent research found that the more time people reported spending on Instagram, the more anxious and depressed they felt in real life. Followers might give you the appearance of having lots of friends, but they don’t beat the real thing.
If you’re always checking your notifications
Getting constant pings and buzzes on your phone can bring you out of the task you’re doing and, the next thing you know, you’ve spent 20 minutes in a TikTok rabbit hole about Beyonce’s Renaissance Tour (I just can’t get over the vids of Blue Ivy performing with Bey, okay?!?).
Apparently, we check our phones on average 47 times a day, according to a 2016 study by Deloitte. That’s 47 times we’re taking our minds off of catching up with friends over brunch, or working on uni work, to check up on something that probably isn’t that important.
You’re struggling with concentrating
This one is linked to the above point – constantly checking for notifications and updates can have a profound effect on our attention spans.
According to researchers at Florida State University, one single notification on your phone weakens your ability to focus on a task, which could be why you’re forgetting things and not able to properly concentrate.
What are the solutions?
Opt for slower-paced entertainment like reading, writing, getting outside for a walk, learning an instrument or watching a film instead of spending time on social media
Set boundaries with your phone and assign certain times of the day for checking it. The rest of the time, put it on flight mode so you’re not tempted by any incoming notifications.
And talking about notifications; head to your settings section and turn any off for apps that you’re not worried about. Duolingo bird, be gone!
Learn a second language. Research from the University of Birmingham found that bilingual speakers were better at maintaining focus and attention.
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