Kim GregoryComment

Is it time for a digital detox?

Kim GregoryComment
Is it time for a digital detox?

Too much technology can affect everything from our mental and physical health to how much sleep we get. So are you willing to go cold turkey?

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Does the thought of being without your phone for a day bring you out in a cold sweat? If the answer is yes, then join the club!

Studies have shown that 66 per cent of us suffer from nomophobia — the fear of losing or being without our phones. They also show that adults spend an average of eight hours and 41 minutes a day on phones or tablets, which is longer than most of us sleep! 

So is it time to detox from the digital world? 

GP Dr Laila Abdullah, who has an interest in mental health and wellbeing, believes that by making some small lifestyle tweaks, we can reclaim our time — and our health. 

 

RELATIONSHIPS AND FAMILY LIFE

Technology means we’re avoiding people more and communicating less. 

Dr Abdullah says: ‘Overuse 
of our phones and the internet can cause us to lose confidence in our social abilities. 

‘Encourage children to put their phones and tablets away after school. Bring back meal times at the dinner table, and set ground rules — make eating a no-screen zone. 

‘And when the kids have gone to bed, talk to your partner. Communication and human interaction are vital for a child’s development, and for our relationships too.’

SLEEP

Using your phone before bed makes it hard to wind down and switch off. 

Dr Abdullah says: ‘Avoid using any screens for an hour before you sleep. Relaxing with a book, having a warm bath, or getting your partner to give you a massage, are all good ways to improve sleep, because they help to release melatonin, the natural sleep hormone. 

‘The light emitted from screens does the opposite by delaying your body clock. Only use your bed for relaxation exercises, sex and sleep.’

PHYSICAL HEALTH 

Too much time spent on our phones has been linked with obesity and can also affect concentration and decision-making, as well as irritating eyes and causing headaches.

Dr Abdullah says: ‘The main physical health problems relating to excessive screen use are musculoskeletal issues, such as backache, neck or shoulder pain — and the effects of physical inactivity, including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

‘It’s so important to increase physical activity, as it can reduce the risk of early death, some types of cancers, dementia and depression.

‘Just put your phone away and get moving! Even a 10-minute burst of moderate physical activity can have health benefits.’

MENTAL HEALTH

When you scroll through Facebook, do you get a sinking feeling that your life isn’t as perfect as your friends’ lives? Comparing ourselves to others can slowly chip away at our self-esteem.

Dr Abdullah says: ‘Practising mindfulness and meditation can really benefit your mental health. You can learn to live for the moment and feel fulfilled when seemingly doing nothing, rather than thinking you need to spend every waking second doing something. 

‘Try listing 10 things in your day that you’re grateful for. Or close your eyes and listen to mindfulness meditations or sounds.’

Edited by Julia Sidwell

 

‘I ditched my phone… for good!’

When I lost my phone, I flew into a panic. But as the days passed, I noticed that I could concentrate better — I became more creative at work, stopped getting headaches and had a better night’s sleep. 

I noticed how beautiful the sky was and appreciated it, rather than posting a photo online. I also gained time, which meant I exercised, cooked and read more. 

Most importantly, I became a better parent. I actually listened to my children, instead of checking emails. 

People can’t understand how I live without a phone, but I’m so much happier without one. 

From Gillian Davies, 39, of Worcester