In today’s digital age, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and addicted to technology. While technology has undoubtedly made our lives easier in many ways, excessive screen time can have negative effects on our brain health and overall well-being. Taking a break from technology, also known as a digital detox, can be an effective way to reset and recharge your brain. In this context, let’s explores the benefits of digital detox and provides some practical tips on how to reduce screen time and keep your brain young and healthy.
We live in a hyper-digitised world where we are constantly looking at screens. “Whether at work, taking a walk, eating a meal, or waiting in line — we can easily pull out our phones to check emails, social media updates, and the news. According to a 2022 RedSeer report, on average, Indians spend 7.3 hours per day on their smartphones. That’s roughly a third of the day,” says Prakriti Poddar , Global head of Mental Health and Wellbeing, RoundGlass.
Overexposure to digital devices dilutes our focus and depletes our mental reserves. Researchers have identified excessive screen time as a risk factor for depression and predict that it will dramatically increase dementia risk in upcoming years. Overuse of social media has also been linked to poor self-esteem, increased anxiety, and lower-quality sleep.
“Despite these consequences, the solution isn’t divorcing our devices altogether. Technology’s role in society isn’t going to disappear. Instead, we must learn to find balance, benefiting from technology’s usefulness without letting it take over our lives and wellbeing,” adds Poddar.
A digital detox is a great practice to help reduce the impact of devices on your mental health. It involves taking intentional time away from all screens and devices — even for just an hour. Dr Babina NM, Chief Medical Officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute, Bangalore, says, “Digital detox means disconnecting or taking a break from technology and digital gadgets such as cell phones, computers, tablets, and social media. It entails unplugging from the digital activity and purposefully disconnecting from the digital environment.”
Here are reasons why digital detox is necessary:
- Sharper focus
Without constant beeps and notifications, or the compulsion to pick up your phone and scroll, your mind can focus better on the task at hand.
- Reduced stress
“Taking a regular pause from the digital world can help revitalize your nervous system and help you feel more present. And it’s important to take a break from the stream of polarizing statements and idealized images that are often used to catch our attention,” opines Poddar.
- Mental Health
Constant use of technology can cause worry, tension, and despair. “Taking a vacation from electronic devices can help improve one’s mental health and well-being,” adds Dr Babina NM.
- Improved Relationships
Excessive usage of technology can lead to social isolation and impede the formation of real-life interactions. Taking a vacation from digital devices can boost social interactions and bonds.
- Better sleep
Blue light and bedtime are not a good match. “Screen use can interrupt melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep. Not to mention, using a device that’s designed to keep you hooked will delay bedtime. Try powering down an hour before bed to improve your sleep cycles, leading to better overall health and wellbeing, states Poddar.
- Better physical health
“Constant use of digital devices can result in bad posture, eye strain, and other physical health issues. Taking a break from screens can help minimize your risk of developing certain health issues,” believes Dr Babina NM.
- Lower risk of dementia
A digital detox creates time to nurture authentic social connections, which have been associated with a lower risk of dementia. Try making the dinner table a no-phone zone to feel closer to family and friends.
- Higher Productivity
Scrolling, liking, and posting have become incredibly time-consuming. Imagine what you could do with another 7.3 hours in your day. Setting aside your phone, even for just an hour, will help you focus on what needs to get done.
To summarise, digital detox is beneficial to both physical and mental health, social relationships, and overall well-being. It enables people to be more present at the moment, connect with others, and boost their productivity. In addition to these brain benefits, a digital detox can help free your mind for self-exploration and growth. As you disconnect from the virtual world, you’ll discover a new sense of “connectedness” from within.
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