This is a guest post by Nelma Lumme.
Fall is an amazing season. Nature’s colors are phenomenal. It is still warm enough to enjoy outdoor activity. Football is in full swing. And it is the last several weeks we have before hunkering down inside for those long cold winter months if we live in colder climates. Even if we live in warmer climates, however, where seasonal changes are not so prominent, fall can be a time to take a break before the stressful holiday season begins.
Part of taking a break might be to consider some digital detox.
Why Is It Called Digital Detox
Digital addiction is a real thing.
Research shows that once people begin to use devices consistently, they get a boost of dopamine (the “feel good” chemical produced in our brains), and that boost becomes addictive. We want more and more of it, and so we stay on our devices more and more. Every text message, every Facebook post, every video chat becomes a “fix.”
Much of our lives are wrapped in our devices. Very few people do not use devices at work, most of the day.
We use our phones to connect with family and friends and to set up social activities. We conduct research for a custom dissertation. We check out restaurant menus and order carry out; we shop and place orders for products and services online. There is just very little we do anymore that does not involve a digital device.
Unfortunately, we become so dependent on our devices, that we use them to excess, often shutting out face-to-face interactions with others and even our environment. Excess in anything is not good, whether it is alcohol, gambling, work, etc. We just don’t seem to be able to hit moderation, once our devices make everything so much easier.
It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “moderation in all things,” and he was right. Unless we practice moderation, we sacrifice a balance of living that is healthy and fulfilling.
How to Do a Digital Detox
Fall is a perfect season for digital detox. Why? Because it is cool enough to get outside and just consume nature. And consume that nature with friends and family.
Here are several ways to detox, at least to a great degree.
- Plan a camping trip to a more rural area, perhaps a float trip. Even if you take your phone, service will be “iffy” at best, and you will be forced to interact with your fellow campers. Sit around a campfire at night and just talk or sing.
- Plan physical shopping trips with friends. Go to small shopping centers in small towns and walk the streets, visiting the little shops and restaurants.
- Get in the car, leave the devices at home, and drive to wooded areas where the leaves are changing.
- Take long walks with friends or your dog.
- Go to the library and check out some books. Set a time when digital devices will be turned off in the evening and just read.
- Go apple picking or go to the zoo. These are great fall activities which still get you outside. Even interacting with animals and trees is a huge reliever of stress.
Benefits of a Digital Detox
No one can reasonably be expected to divorce themselves from the devices completely. And “withdrawal” can bring its own stress. But you can make a commitment to detoxing for a few days or for periods of time during each day, without severe symptoms.
Here are some important benefits.
- You will renew your skills in interpersonal, face-to-face communication with others – a major element of friendships that last.
- You will come to re-appreciate nature and the amazing beauty that seasonal changes give us
- You will find that your stress levels are reduced as you do not feel compelled to check Facebook, your email, or your messages, minute-by-minute.
- You’ll become more physically active. Taking walks, camping, visiting small local marketplaces, going to the zoo. All of these things involve physical movement on your part – and physical movement promotes overall health.
Set a Goal
This fall, set a goal to turn off the digital devices, at least part of the time. Take that time to engage in totally non-digital activities.
If necessary get an app to help you turn things off for periods of time that you can pre-determine. Your body, your mind, and your spirit will thank you for it.