Summer usually equals a little extra downtime, travels, and an opportunity to indulge. But in the age of the Internet, it’s easy to confuse the definition of indulgence with binge watching TV Netflix series, scrolling endlessly on social media, or browsing the hundreds of product pages of your favorite online stores.
A better definition of holiday indulgence? Time spent away from screens to give your eyes and brain a break, reconnecting with yourself or loved ones, being present, and appreciating every moment.
A summer digital detox can prime you to achieve all of the above—and engrain some powerful habits that will help you better control your screen time long after the summer ends.
With phones now often described as an extension of humans’ arms, the task might seem daunting at first. What if there’s an important email that you end up missing? Will Instagram’s algorithm “penalize” you for going silent, pushing your content at the bottom of your friends’ feeds? And how would you call your mum or get directions?
Take a breath and regain some perspective: People survived and kept themselves busy long before the Internet and social media—and so can you.
All you need to do is start with a series of small commitments. A good way to get into it is to start with a social media-specific detox, before going all in. Do you spend hours scrolling on Instagram, or writing tweets, or filming non-stop for Tik Tok? Observe your habits, and commit to not using or deleting the apps you are most active on for 24 hours a week.
Do this for a few weeks ahead of your summer holidays or staycation to prepare yourself to go fully offline during your time off. This means imagining that the Internet doesn’t exist for at least a day and leaving your phone on airplane mode and your laptop shut. Having less commitments and more activities to stay occupied with during a summer holiday should make the process easier.
If you wanted to, you could come up with myriads of excuses to break your digital detox: you have an urgent email that needs to be answered, you need to call an Uber, your family might be worried, you have a burning question for Google.
The list could indeed be endless, but then again, when there’s a will, there’s a way.Hail a cab, ask for directions just like previous generations did, get lost and find your way back, and inform all your immediate contacts that you will be unreachable in advance.
Logistical issues can always be solved, the focus should rather be on the mental clarity and sense of freedom you can gain.
It’s easy to wonder what is there to do all day without your phone at your disposal. But if you open up your eyes to everything around you and choose to stay active and truly engaged in what you’re doing, you will quickly realize there’s plenty to do..
“A whole life awaits you away from the screen. Read a book, take a nap, go for a hike, write in your journal, plant seeds in your garden, clean your bedroom or the whole house, cook a meal from scratch, paint, go for a walk or run, put some music on and dance, play with your kids, organize the closet–the list is endless,” said Mimi Ikonn, cofounder of Intelligent Change and a firm believe in the power of the digital detox.
Mimi decided to take a full week off the digital world last summer, and has been taking off weekly breaks ever since to enjoy what she has coined her Present Days.
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself,” she added. “In fact, my house has never been so organized, as I often spend a few hours of my Present Day tidying our closets or a different section of the kitchen, or bathroom cupboard. The time I might have spent on a screen is productively poured into benefitting my life.”
Pro tip? Plan small treats for yourself, like an at-home facial or a delicious meal to teach your brain that detoxing doesn’t have to equate deprivation or any form of suffering.
Observe and adjust
At the end of your detox, spend some time with yourself and reflect on how you felt about it all. Jot down all the amazing things that happened during the day you spent away from your phone in The Five Minute Journal. You could also end the challenge with meditation, closely observing your emotional state and any shifts that occurred. If you’re feeling liberated and more in tune with yourself, maybe it’s time to make the digital detox a weekly or monthly habit and keep building up the time you spend away from your phone.
Even if you found it hard to cope with or didn’t manage to complete the 24 hours detox, use the experience as a way to dive deeper into the root cause of the issue and identify why you are so dependent on online distractions. Either way, you’ll come out of the challenge a winner.