To Try This Weekend: 5 Steps to a Digital Detox
Your typical day might look something like this: Awaken to the alarm clock on your phone. Still bleary eyed, you stare at the notifications on the screen and decide to just peep at that group text you missed with your best friends. Oh, and that email you’ve been waiting on a response to—you may as well check that, too. While brushing your teeth, you scroll through Instagram, and on your commute, maybe you take a quick peek at Facebook. You work on a computer all day, and text your loved ones when you have free time. After dinner, you find yourself reaching for your phone again to see who liked your Instagram post.
If this sounds all too familiar, you may be in need of a digital detox.
For many of us, being connected is a necessity. Whether you’re running your own business or reporting to a demanding boss, the lines between personal time and professional are increasingly blurred. In addition, our addiction to technology is fueling the need to always be plugged in—leading to feelings of stress, depression and depletion. We may want to disconnect, yet find the idea overwhelming. But Alexandra Zatarain, co-founder and CMO of Eight, a company that pairs state-of-the-art mattresses with cutting edge technology, assures us a digital detox doesn’t have to be daunting.
“We’re conditioned to always reach for our phones, so for me, breaking that habit is a huge challenge,” Alex admits. “It’s a drug, so initially it’s hard to resist that urge but eventually, it becomes easier.”
So, how does the chief marketing officer of a smart mattress company bridge the gap between technology and sleep as our body’s natural way of recharging? “I would say that we should not be scared of technology when it comes to sleep. Instead, we should use it to our advantage,” Alex says. “If you track your sleep with products like our smart mattress, you can keep tabs on how long you are sleeping for each night, and also work on your consistency. Let technology help you! It will make a difference.”
She also reminds us that, “when it comes to healthy sleep, the most important metric is how consistent you are to go to bed and wake up. You need to get your body into a routine, because this becomes your internal clock. If you do this consistently you will see that you will no longer need an alarm to wake up. And that’s a great feeling!”
Like any of us, Alex has to deal with juggling the necessity of being connected with caring for her own health and stress levels. She has cultivated helpful habits to help streamline her relationship with her phone to be as productive as possible. First, Alex advises, address your inbox. “Delete the emails that don’t serve a purpose. Don’t get stuck in the number of emails yet to be answered—if it was important, you would have taken care of it already. And don’t be afraid to disappear from social media for a while! Delete the apps from your phone and take periodic breaks.”
Even when enacting these precautions, the urge to engage with social media can be hard to break. In that case, Alex says, enlist the help of loved ones.
“If you feel like social media is becoming some sort of addiction, tell your friends or partner—anyone you spend most of your time with. Whenever I feel like I’m getting trapped again, I tell my husband. And he’ll make sure to remind me of the feeling I expressed concern for if he sees me stuck on Instagram.”
Still searching for some concrete steps to make your digital detox a reality? Alex shares her top tips for disengaging and recovering a much needed sense of peace—and self.
5 Easy Tips to a Digital Detox
“Exercise is something I can do daily to detox. I am not the type of person who strategizes and solves business problems while exercising; I use that time to be in full sync with my body and to push my physical limits,” Alex says. Whether you use your workout to let your mind work through your challenges or to be fully present in your body, the benefits of exercise are myriad—especially when you’re not texting on the treadmill.
2. Take a Trip.
“For longer periods of digital detox, traveling is my favorite. Visiting new places always opens my eyes to new ideas and I try to keep my phone use to a minimum during the first few days of a trip,” Alex shares. “When I travel, my husband and I like to challenge ourselves to be active or learn something new. It’s important for us to take on new challenges—whether it’s exploring a new city by foot, going out to sea on a boat, hiking, or scuba diving. This frees our minds of work related tensions, at least temporarily.” Engaging your senses while traveling will not only help relax you in the short term, but you’ll retain more memories of your trip in the long run.
3. Read a Book.
Real books are making a comeback, and with good reason. “I’ll also pick up a book to read on vacation so that I’m less tempted to scroll through social media in free time,” Alex says. Reading a book (as opposed to an e-reader) lessens the temptation to connect, allowing you to lose yourself in a new world. Bonus? Reading books can help you recover your attention span, improve memory and even make you a more empathetic human being.
4. Make Saturdays (or Sundays) Sacred.
“On Saturdays, I try to keep my phone use to a minimum, spend time with my husband and friends and do things that are not work-related. Periodically, I delete social media apps from my phone to take a break,” says Alex. Making time to connect in real life can be the most uplifting digital detox. Not ready to delete your social media apps altogether? Try moving them off of your home screen to make it just that more difficult for you to access them. Then, turn off notifications so you won’t be tempted to open them.
5. Forego the Wifi.
“I fly frequently, but never buy wifi for my phone—only my laptop. This lets me focus on work and keeps me off of Instagram, which is the biggest time suck for me,” Alex confides. “Most of the flights I take are between coasts, so 5 to 6 hours of not being on my phone is a huge win for me.” Though you’ll still be connected, you’ll land with a feeling of accomplishment, leading to less stress for the rest of your trip.
Seeking more ways to get the most out of your sleep? Discover the top five foods that can make a difference.