CareNow® - November 06, 2019

Of the 7.68 billion people in the world, there are 5.11 billion people using a mobile phone today. That’s up 100 million people (or 2 percent) from last year.

In an increasingly digital world, it’s easy to get fatigued from all the technology we use every day. As people begin to realize that excessive media use isn’t good for us physically, mentally or emotionally, it’s becoming more common to hear about people taking a “media detox.”

If you’ve considered doing the same but aren’t sure if it’s really worth it, we’re sharing five ways that it can improve your health so you can determine if a detox is for you.

You Will Be More in the Moment

With constant incoming text messages, emails and alerts, it’s no surprise that anyone with a mobile phone would have difficulty being in the moment. Our attention is constantly divided between what’s happening in present time and what’s going on with that little device in our hand.

While most people are unable to completely disconnect from their devices since they are commonly used for communication, calendar reminders, navigation, checking the time, etc., it can still be beneficial to break the habit of checking your phone constantly.

The next time you’re walking from one place to another, at a stoplight or waiting for a friend to meet you for lunch, put down your device and focus on being present.

You’ll notice that you’ll become more aware of the little things that often get overlooked, like fresh air, birds chirping outside or a beautiful painting you’d have never paid attention to before.

You Will Get Better Sleep at Night

If you search “How to Improve Sleep,” one of the first things that you’ll read is that you should disconnect from electronics in the hours leading up to bedtime.

This is because most devices emit a blue light from their screens, which causes a disruption in the brain’s production of melatonin, making it more difficult to fall asleep.

It’s common for people to quickly check their phones or laptops prior to bed and before they know it, an hour has passed. And with the ability to stream content online, watching television shows and movies late into the night can keep people up.

To help you get a better night’s sleep, many experts recommend staying away from screens at least two hours before your typical bedtime. You’ll be surprised what a good night’s sleep will do for your physical and mental health the next day.

You Will Experience Deeper Connections With Others

While social media can be great for many things—like reconnecting with friends—it can also take away the importance of face-to-face communication.

We’ve all been there: You’re talking to someone who is engaged in a text message conversation or scrolling through social media. It can be difficult to have a deep connection when this happens.

In fact, a recent study showed that when a cellphone was present while a conversation was going on, it prevented deeper, more meaningful communication from happening.

On the other hand, when the cellphone is turned off or left somewhere out of sight, it allows for more in-depth conversation that builds a stronger bond.

Whether you’re taking extra time to get to know the barista you see every day at your local coffee shop or paying closer attention to your spouse when he or she tells you about the day, taking a break from media can help you nourish your relationships.

You Will See an Increase in Productivity and Focus

From students trying to pay attention in a classroom to employees working to hit a deadline, the presence of a cellphone or other device can reduce productivity significantly.

Most people have a tendency to check their phones much too often for new emails, text messages or social media notifications. Even when ignored, having a device nearby can keep you from paying attention to what you should be focused on.

By simply putting your device in another room, you can improve your productivity and learning.

This was proven by a school in the U.K. that banned any phones on campus and subsequently saw a large increase in student test scores.

You Will Put Less Strain on Your Eyes

Constant exposure to blue light—the light emitted from screens—can be damaging to your eyesight.

When you stare at a screen for an extended period of time, blue light can decrease contrast and result in digital eyestrain.

If you notice that your eyes are sore or irritated or you’re having difficulty focusing, you may be experiencing eyestrain. Continued exposure to blue light can also cause damage to your retinal cells that can eventually result in age-related macular degeneration.

While computer glasses and screen filters can help, decreasing the amount of time you spend staring at a screen is the most effective way to protect your eyes.

How to Break the Habit

The reality that you could go without your devices forever is pretty unrealistic. We rely on technology for everything from waking us up in the morning to helping us navigate around town. However, simply breaking the habit of constantly checking your cellphone can offer you many benefits.

But let’s be honest, this is easier said than done. So how do you break the habit?

For many people, it’s easier to ease into things by turning off any unnecessary notifications—like social media or email. Others have found it easiest to set parameters around their cellphone use by putting away their device before bedtime, while they were doing work or while they were spending time with other people.

In some instances, people found it was helpful to delete specific apps from their phone that took up a lot of time or simply weren’t bringing them any happiness.

Whatever your approach, taking a break from media can result in major changes to the way you feel, both physically and mentally!

For more helpful posts like this, be sure to check back on the CareNow® blog regularly.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.