There’s good reason to take note of the emerging, digital detoxing trend that’s making its way through health and wellness circles. Many of us are glued to our phones, tablets, or computers at all hours of the day and night. With spring in the air, many people yearn for change this time of year, and a digital detox might be just the step you need to replenish yourself.

But are our social media habits taking a toll on our health and well-being? Research suggests this may, in fact, be the case. In the last few years, several studies have shown a link between social media usage and depression, anxiety, and loss of sleep, among other things. Nevertheless, our smart devices are almost never out of our sights.

“Every new notification or text triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that drives us to seek rewards, so you keep coming back for more,” explained Levi Felix, cofounder of Digital Detox, in an interview for Shape Magazine.

If you’re looking for a way to rejuvenate this season, consider unplugging and spending more time away from your digital devices each day. At first, the thought of disconnecting from the rapid-fire way people communicate may invoke a bit of panic, but a few digital detox strategies will help you feel calmer, less distracted, and more present in your day-to-day life.

Although you may not be able to forgo communication devices for long periods of time due to the nature of your job, here are three tips to get you started.

1. Use an old-fashioned alarm clock to wake up.

It’s common for people to use the alarm clocks on their phones to wake up each day. But if you awake in the night, you may be tempted to check your notifications, texts, or emails. When you do this, the blue light that’s transmitted from your electrical devices can disrupt your melatonin production, making it hard for you to fall back to sleep. Instead of using your phone, consider using an old-fashioned alarm clock to wake you up. You’ll be less inclined to check your messages and more likely to get a good night’s sleep.

2. Turn your phone off during breaks or meals whenever possible.

When you’re on a break with others, what do you notice? Most people’s eyes are fixed on small screens as they scroll through one post after another. The lack of meaningful conversations can make you feel detached from colleagues. Rather than pulling out your phone, try to engage more deeply with the people around you. You just might find that by strengthening your bonds with your coworkers, you begin to feel more engaged and excited about the work you’re doing.

3. Deactivate your push notifications.

If you receive push notifications from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other apps, you might notice your free time is quickly gobbled up as you tend to the storm of information hitting you.

To regain some spare time in your day, deactivate or disable these notifications, and designate specific times when you’ll check your various social media accounts. By doing this, you’ll soon notice most things don’t require your immediate attention; you might even discover you feel less stressed out and tense when you minimize your 24/7 availability to the world.

As you get used to creating a more tech-free life for yourself, consider scheduling days where you unplug entirely. Take this time to read a book, visit a museum, or watch a movie. Adding more fulfilling activities into your life can be paramount to nurturing your overall mental and physical health.

Jennifer Lelwica Buttaccio

Jenny Lelwica Buttaccio, OTR/L, is a Chicago-based, freelance lifestyle writer, licensed occupational therapist, and certified Pilates instructor. Her expertise is in health, wellness, fitness, and chronic illness management.

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