Why Taking a Digital Detox is a Good Idea

Years ago I went on my first several day silent retreat.  In addition to not speaking for several days, there was zero use of devices.  Initially, it was quite difficult.  I didn’t realize how hooked I was to my phone, and as more time passed, I found it refreshing to my mind.  I didn’t have to respond to anyone, check updates, or search anything online.  It had such an effect, and now I have embarked on a weekly digital detox.  We will explore why taking a digital detox is a good idea. 

So this is a blog about modern pilgrimages, why talk of digital detoxes?  Digital detoxes are a way to clear our brain.  When we remove the distractions temporarily, it allows us to go deeper.  Difficult emotions will arise or boredom will set in, and when it does, welcome it and note what you find. 

What is a digital detox? 

This refers to purposefully abstain from our digital devices for a specified amount of time, particularly social media. People are beginning to engage in this due to our dramatic increase and dependence on the devices.  It acts as a form of reset. 

Social Media can be stressful. In the American Psychological Associations’ annual Stress in America survey, a fifth of U.S. adults (around 18%) cited technology use as a significant source of stress in their life. For many, it is the always being on, digital connection and constant need to keep checking emails, texts, and social media that accounted for the majority of this tech stress.

Signs You Might Need a Digital Cleanse

  • You feel stressed out if you can’t find your phone
  • You feel the desire to check your phone every several minutes
  • You’re obsessed with the likes or comments on your social media posts
  • There’s FOMO (fear of missing out) if you don’t keep checking your device
  • You notice you are spending excess time to play on your phone

Digital Detox Options

There are different ways to do a digital detox and it does not always mean complete abstinence. That’s not totally practical for many of us to just give up our devices, as it may be essential for business, education, and familial purposes. Instead, you can explore these options.  

Some individuals choose to abstain from digital devices and social media during certain times of the day, or even certain days of the week. This might involve a digital curfew, which would be for example no phone use after 7pm.  For me, I chose to do a digital detox on Saturdays. I have seen others also try to change habits by cutting out social media for a 40 day cleanse, like during Lent. 

Another way to shift time is instead of checking out notifications as they occur, set aside certain times you check apps or read personal emails.  For example, you may only choose to do this 3 times per day versus nonstop. 

For me, I’ve been doing a weekly digital cleanse for several years.  This means I do not look up anything on google or search engines, or social media.  But I will still respond to friends, family, or look up directions.  We may also choose to remove the distractions, such as notifications on our phones. 

In this blog, we explored why taking a digital detox is a good idea. A digital detox can give time for introspection and renewal.  We may surprise ourselves with the amount of time we have gained that day or timeframe that you are not spending checking your phone. With all this extra time in your life, how do you want to spend it?  Without the distractions, how can you move deeper into your inner pilgrimage? 

For people who are debating going on a silent retreat (check out this blog post https://amodernpilgrimage.com/top-10-preparations-for-a-silent-retreat/ ), this is a good first step.  Taking a weekly digital cleanse is an internal reset. You won’t regret it. 

“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content. “-Helen Keller

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