- The same technological tools that allow workers to work remotely are contributing to high stress and burnout levels.
- Taking regular breaks away from technology can improve our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
- A digital detox can help lower the stress and physical effects of persistent technology use, and improve sleep patterns.
Today’s remote work technology designed to increase employee connectivity and productivity is a key culprit in the stress and burnout epidemic.
According to Forbes, 71% of Gen-Z and 69% of Millennial employees admit they are constantly checking their work communication tools outside of work.
What could improve these depressing statistics is a technological detox – especially for online work communications.
Workplace technology and corporate culture are intertwined, and their impact on employee health and wellbeing can have a number of effects.
It’s true that reducing your technology use improves your physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. Studies show us that mobile technology usage can cause and increase anxiety.
Detoxing from stressors and unhealthy substances is common, but what about a technology detox?
What is a digital detox?
A digital detox is when a person stops using technology for a period of time. This technology includes smartphones, smartwatches, computers, and TVs. While most people can’t get rid of technology entirely, they can take breaks to focus on other parts of life.
The average American checks their phone 262 times per day, which is once every 5.5 minutes.
According to Aetna, 66% of employees admit that checking their phone for work-related messages can make them feel stressed, which 64% of them do before they go to bed and 70% of employees do first thing in the morning.
Although many of us rely on various technologies for work/our livelihoods, it’s important to reduce usage of these technologies when we aren’t working.
“We live in a 24/7 digital world but we don’t have 24/7 bodies and minds. It is important to take regular breaks away from technology and its constant demands and distractions to allow the mind to rest and rejuvenate and to nurture our relationships in the real world,” Anna Kotwinski, Co-Founder of Shine Offline, a company specializing in digital wellbeing and management, told Make a Difference.
What are the benefits of a digital detox?
Most people receive notifications, alerts, phone calls, and messages every day, or all day. Notifications can be turned off but when our devices are nearby, we’re still prone to check them constantly. A digital detox can help lower the stress and physical effects of persistent technology use.
- Improve mental health: A digital detox can reduce detrimental mental health symptoms associated with excessive technology use.
- Reduce stress: By reducing the stress that comes from social media and other technology through a digital detox, you can better control your mental wellbeing.
- Enhance sleep: Evidence shows that frequent blue-light device use can disrupt your sleep schedule and make it harder to sleep. Improving your sleep through digital detox allows you to get a better rest and have a clearer mind.
Tips for detoxing from technology (when you’re not working)
- Set boundaries: Schedule technology-free hours every day; add technology-free activities to your schedule.
- Use your phone with purpose: Consider why you want to use your phone in your downtime. If it involves negative coping behaviors like avoiding an activity, think about how you can redirect that.
- Set physical boundaries: If you have trouble putting down your phone, try keeping it in another room to discourage yourself from using it too often.
- Take advantage of your phone’s apps and features: You can turn off notifications for certain apps or turn off your phone for a while.
Reducing screen time is important
When it’s not absolutely essential for work, reducing screen time frees up more time to connect with family and friends. Cultivating in-person connections with others can help ward off symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety.
According to the Mayo Clinic, cutting down on screen time can:
- Improve your physical health. Physical activity has immense benefits to your health, but devices could be cutting into exercise time. Maintaining healthy habits can be hard when too much time is spent using screens.
- Make social connections. Connecting with others is crucial for us to feel cared for; devices can damage these relationships.
- Improve your mood. Putting down your phone and going outside or doing an activity you enjoy can be a mood booster by making you feel more accomplished, and inherently this can improve your wellbeing. Engaging in social activities helps you connect with others and improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Besides isolation, anxiety, and fostering unhealthy habits, overuse of technology and screens can lead to another negative aspect: eye strain. Too much exposure to the blue light emitted by digital devices can cause eye strain, headaches, itchy eyes, and blurred vision, as well as affecting sleep patterns.
Workers who must use computers and other technologies should consider their general wellbeing and take steps to make sure they are maintaining it by taking technology detoxes and reducing screen time when possible.