How long should a digital detox be?
One question we get asked a lot is “How long should a digital detox be?” If you’re wondering if an hour off your phone really counts as a digital detox, or whether you need to take yourself off for a fully unplugged retreat in the wilds – we have the answers for you.
What are you trying to achieve?
The first thing you need to think about when you’re asking yourself ‘how long?’ is what you’re trying to achieve with your digital detox. If you’re feeling frazzled and need a break from work, or if social media and its comparison culture has got too much for you, then a quick break of 30 minutes or an hour may be exactly what you need. If, on the other hand, you’re focused on improving sleep, reducing longer term anxiety and improving your relationships, then longer and more frequent breaks of half a day or a day may be the answer.
How long have you got?
It’s no good deciding that you need a break of two or three days from digital devices when you’re working remotely and need to stay connected. So, as well as thinking about what your goals are, give some thought to how long is a practical length of time for you to stay away from your phone and laptop. If you only have an hour, or a day, then that’s what you need to make work for you.
What results can you expect?
The good news is that results from a digital detox come quite quickly and we’ve never encountered anyone who thought it was a complete waste of time! Improvements in sleep, stress levels, anxiety, and a boost in overall happiness are all things that have been linked to time off screens.
The effect is even more powerful when you combine time away from your screens with doing something that connects you with nature. At its simplest, for every minute you spend away from a screen, try and spend 30 second (half of that time) outdoors. Being in a green space has been found to improve sleep and reduce stress, increase happiness and reduce negative emotions, promote positive social interactions and even help generate a sense of meaning in your life life.
Tips for deciding how long your digital detox should be
- Focus on what you’re trying to achieve.
- Work out how long you have to spare, without it causing problems in your life.
- Remind yourself of the benefits.
- Start small – 30 minutes is a good first step.
- Work up to longer and longer breaks if you enjoy the results.
For more about dipping your toe into a digital detox, and other suggestions on how get a healthy balance with the digital world: My Brain Has Too Many Tabs Open is out now