Thinking of Doing a Digital Detox? How to Break Away from Your Phone (& Still Have a Life)

Capsule looks at taking a break from our phones – but is it easier said than done?

When Capsule Editor Emma Clifton published this piece about taking a five-day break from her phone, we were inundated with messages from readers who are desperate to do the same thing.

Phones are like an extension of ourselves now – when you don’t have it on you, you feel incomplete, lost and sometimes anxious when you realise the world isn’t at your fingertips like it always is.

But some of us are now realising that our phones are having far too much of an affect on our mental and physical health, and it’s leading us to reassess our relationship with them. And for some of that, that can mean a bit of a digital detox.

What does a digital detox look like?

A digital detox, says HMD Global’s James Robinson (the company that makes Nokia), encourages improved awareness of how we use our devices and it allows us to reflect on our relationship with technology and consider setting new habits.

“While the usage of screens has increased over the years, so too has our appetite for reprieve, with more than a third (36%) of people around the world admitting they take a digital detox often according to recent research by HMD Global.

“Depending on your goals, this might look like setting limits on screen time or social media use, disconnecting in the evening for an earlier night’s sleep or blocking out certain apps and distractions to allow you a deeper focus at work.”

Digi detox tips to help you inspire healthy use of technology and digital wellbeing:

  1. Track your activity and establish new habits: Are you aware of the full extent of your current mobile phone usage habits and behaviours? Reviewing activity is the first step. Identify if there is anything you’d like to adapt or new habits you’d like to introduce. Set measures to easily track your usage, review your activity and monitor your progress.
  2. Designate tech-free hours: Select times of the day where you are completely unplugged. Start with something as simple as taking a tech-free lunch, or put your phone away and opt for reading a book on your commute to work. Slowly work the habit into your daily life and once you start getting used to it, you may find yourself expanding your time without a device.
  3. Don’t take your phone to bed: Most people use their phone as an alarm clock but when you take your phone into your room, it is harder to switch it off and easier to find yourself mindlessly scrolling on social media for hours each night. Instead leave your phone outside the bedroom (or at least at the other end of the room) and make your bed a device-free zone. Better yet, you won’t be exposed to the bright blue light emitted from your phone that impacts the sleep-wake-cycle, resulting in a better night’s sleep.
  1. Ask your boss for a work phone: Research conducted by HMD Global at the end of 2020 discovered that more than 8 in 10 (85%) of New Zealanders would use a complimentary work phone if offered by their employer with the main reason being to keep personal and working lives separate. The main reasons being to keep work and personal lives separate. Given how many of us are working from home more frequently, it’s unsurprising that we’re looking for ways to separate these worlds.
  1. Consider a ‘weekend phone’ – A digital detox isn’t always realistic for many of us. We rely on technology to keep us connected to friends, families, colleagues and our broader communities – especially at the moment. But, should you wish to reduce your screen time and improve your digital habits and wellbeing, you could always try a low-cost supplementary device like an old-school-style Nokia feature phone like the Nokia 2720 Flip. Use it as your weekend phone or your after work/evening phone (and get a good dose of nostalgia at the same time!)

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