Digital Detox: The Benefits of Going Offline for Your Mental and Physical Health

Most of us are highly connected to our tech and devices for work, business, family, and personal needs. This leads to a sense of overwhelm and the rise of tech stress caused by the constant need and demands to check emails, texts, and notifications.

The American Psychological Association reported that nearly 1 in 5 adults say their mental health is worse than it was at this time last year. One Swedish study found consuming high-speed Internet in adolescents is associated with increased sleep problems, depression, and increased stress.

It’s time we have a reality check on our relationship with tech and, if possible, do a digital detox.

The Benefits of Doing a Digital Detox

A digital detox describes a period where you refrain from utilizing technology, such as computers or mobile devices. Some often see detoxing technology as an opportunity to concentrate on social interaction in real-time with no distractions. However, the challenge of disconnecting from digital communication, especially for work, can make a complete detox difficult. Adopting a mini-detox strategy at the end of the workday can help manage this by allowing individuals to gradually disconnect from devices and electronic distractions.

If people stop using the internet for some time, they can be released from stress caused by the constant connection – and the FOMO (fear of missing out) of having to “keep up.”

This article will explore the benefits of going offline and discover why many people embrace “analog” or paper-based planning tools.

The Importance Of Taking A Digital Detox

While digital technology has done much to advance the human race, e.g., keeping us connected with family and friends and making it easy for us to respond in emergencies, it has also placed a world of distractions quite literally at our fingertips. With a simple tap, we can become engrossed in many reels, videos, posts, and stories – all of which, while mildly entertaining, do little or nothing to get us closer to achieving our goals. The temptation to check social media accounts frequently can significantly impact job satisfaction and stress levels, contributing to the challenge of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Technology addiction is real.

In his book Stolen Focus, Why You Can’t Pay Attention, Johann Hari explains how important it is to avoid distractions and focus on what truly matters to achieve our dreams. 

“In a sea of distractions, focus becomes your compass, guiding you towards your desired destination…focus is not just about what you do; it is also about what you choose not to do.”

Johann Hari – Stolen Focus

So, if you’d like to sharpen your focus and make this your year, take a moment to slow things down, enjoy a break from technology, and discover the benefits of planning on paper.

What is a digital detox?

Digital detox refers to an individual’s break from their mobile device, social networking sites, laptops, gaming consoles, and other technology that is increasingly necessary. Problematic smartphone use is rising among young adults and those who’ve grown up with technology in their everyday lives.

How long does a digital detox take?

Based on many studies and The 3-Day effect, we suggest at least three nights. In his book Stolen Focus, Hari explains how it took him several days to unwind. In this summer of writing, he didn’t find his groove til 2 to 3 weeks into the detox. So, if you can disconnect for an extended period, then there can be amazing benefits in the long term.

Is a digital detox worth it?

According to some research studies, the use of digital detox has been a controversial practice. Giving up a device entirely is possible, but this can cause negative results.

Digital Device and Technology Addiction

We’ve become so used to having a tool for every part of our day that we’re now so reliant on technology, from a sleep tracker to wake us up at the correct time in our sleep cycles to traffic apps for driving to tracking our projects and hours at work. We’re constantly connected, and it’s taking a toll on our mental and physical health.

Technology doesn’t just affect our personal lives. More and more people are using technology as a regular part of their work, especially those who work with knowledge. Technostress and Techno-invasion refer to staff members being in constant connectivity without boundaries of space and time.

A Digital Detox Perspective on Technostress

Researchers studying the technostress in organizations are guided by an assumption based on personal exposure to techno-stressors. This will vary according to job characteristics and technological, organizational, and social environment. Intervention in digital detox could also be started earlier if the person was exposed to stimuli or technological stress.

Digital Devices Can Disrupt Sleep

Evidence also suggests excessive sleeping habits are detrimental to sleep. Researchers found less sleep and worsening symptoms when they slept using digital devices.

In addition, the research found an association between night tech usage and increased body weight.

A new study found social networking can negatively affect sleep and mood. Using a mobile device for at least 30 minutes before sleeping and keeping the phone near the pillow are associated with poor sleep quality.

5 Small Steps to Detoxing from Your Digital Devices

Not everyone can jet away to a remote location for a 6-week break from technology. How can we make small changes to our technology use so that we can start to break strong digital habits?

1. Setting a digital detox goal

Goal setting can help you develop habits that do not affect your behavior. The clearer the objective—the greater the likelihood that you achieve it. We can no longer completely remove technology. It’s important to pick the behaviors you want to improve and to have a realistic plan for what you want.

Having goals can help you list the benefits your behavior changes will bring. Lastly, be sure to commit time to yourself. It may take as long as necessary. You need to break digital habits.

2. Schedule Time Away From Screens Throughout the Day

When we work on computers, it can be hard to avoid screens, so we must prioritize a break. Set a date to remind someone to walk away from their desk or get a coffee at the office. Keep the phone in hand.

Take a walk in the morning or evenings when you don’t take your phone. Be completely present in nature and enjoy the fresh air, the sounds, and the movement around you. Forest bathing is growing in popularity for this exact experience.

3. Use timers or a lock box

Several new products are on the market for locking away your phone or devices. These timed lock boxes allow you to disconnect and keep your phone out of sight until the timer goes off. Some even have different modes and times that can be set from 1 minute to 30 days!

Another alternative is the Tomato Timer app for your computer to encourage you to focus on the task and not touch or use your other devices until the agreed time is spent.

4. Have an accountability buddy

Like Alcoholics Anonymous or other addiction programs, having a buddy or mentor to check in with can help avoid slipping back into old habits. It’s incredibly powerful having someone on your team to encourage each other.

Having a friend or family member take your phone or iPad off can help to ensure you don’t use it until you reach the agreed time frame.

In the same way that parents limit their children’s screen time, having your partner take your phone off you til a project or deadline is met can help to keep your focus on track.

5. Turn Off Your Phone at a Specific Time

Try to power it down before dinner. Apple users can also disable notification settings on phones and tablets, which will reduce alarms, notifications, and call volume. Good sleep hygiene includes a break from your phone and devices within 1 hour of bedtime.

6. Start with a Social Media Detox

If you can’t give up email and work messaging platforms, an excellent starting point is a social media detox. Delete all social media sites from your bookmarks and remove the apps from your phone. This doesn’t have to be permanent, but let’s start small with small changes.

Imagine having the space to think while waiting for the train or in line for an appointment. This ideal time can be incredibly powerful for letting your brain have downtime.

Strategies for a successful digital detox

Habitual changes are tough for people. And when you try to break your digital habits, software developers are also faced with challenges that try to get into your mind and get your attention.

Unfortunately, most of the above features can be bypassed. Some strategies (such as needing someone to be accountable or even accountable for their actions) are useful for breaking a bad habit. In general, a digital detox kit is more likely than an actual physical detox tool. When you start the digital detox, you’ll be ready with this strategy for success.

Constant Connectivity Affects Work/Life Balance

Keeping close can cause problems setting boundaries in your home and working world. Even while away on holiday, keeping your emails on hold can be difficult, as can answering a colleague’s texts or checking in with your social media account. Researchers found that work/life balance technology could help determine individual responsibilities and personal priorities. Researchers found that the Internet and mobile technology impacted overall employee satisfaction, stress, and overwork.

Adjust Your Phone Settings to Limit Certain Apps

Apple iPhone users can set limits on screen time in the phone Settings. You can then schedule downtime when the call is restricted. The health of the Internet is similar to the health of Google phones and tablets. Those who had not used this feature reported having worse health than those with this feature. How do people know if they don’t have any more self-care?

Minimizing Distractions

How easy is it, once you’ve unlocked your phone, to get sucked down the rabbit hole that is the digital world. You start “just quickly checking something on your online calendar” and become distracted by social media, games, and the Internet. 

Isn’t it amazing how often something that should’ve taken two seconds can turn into hours of scrolling? And…

When you finally snap out of your digital trance, you’re left feeling kinda dazed and unsure of what you were supposed to be doing in the first place. If you’re like most of us, this happens more than we care to admit.

Now imagine how much more efficient it would be to walk up to your beautiful paper-based planner, quickly pencil that important event into the correct date, and get on with your day.

Reducing Screen Time on Digital Devices

We always try to get our kids to take time away from their devices, but what about our screen time? Digital devices hold us enthralled for hours, and too much screen time can harm our mental and physical health.

Studies also show that adults who model lower screen usage have more control over their children’s screen time than parents who are high-screen users themselves.

Using a paper-based yearly planner to map out your family’s goals, activities, and engagements for the year provides a welcome relief from the screen. Plus, by setting up a weekly planning meeting where the whole family can get involved in the planning process, you’ll be strengthening family ties, encouraging buy-in, and growing healthy relationships.

Woman doing a digital detox and sitting in a chair on her verandah and writing in a notebook

Mental Well-being

With its incessant barrage of notifications, the constant buzz of digital and social media apps takes a toll on your mental health. A digital detox helps you to reconnect with the physical world.

Take a break from the digital noise to soak up the serenity of a field of beautiful blooms bobbing in the breeze–get outside today! Rediscover a sense of peace and mental well-being that will help you see things clearly and plan your year with delight and optimism.


Being mindful as you record the events and milestones you aim for this year will help you be more fully committed to doing the work required to achieve your goals.

Enhancing Focus  

The deliberate act of putting pen to paper when planning your year on a physical planner enhances your ability to focus and reflect on the plans and goals you’re putting in place. 

This increased focus helps you set SMART goals (i.e., specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based) rather than setting unrealistic goals and overcommitting because you are not fully involved in the process. 

Be The Change for your Mental and Physical Health

In a world captivated by digital dance, the counterculture movement away from screens and towards paper-based stationery symbolizes a yearning for balance and authenticity. This growing trend is not a rejection of technology but a harmonious integration of analog practices into the digital fabric of our lives. 

By choosing to use paper-based planners, you’re reclaiming your autonomy over time, reducing your environmental impact, and fostering a more intentional and mindful way of living.

Digital Connectivity Can Make You Feel Like You’re Missing Out

Fear of missing out is fear of losing the experience of others. A constant connection will increase the fear. When you look through photos or posts about others’ lives, you may feel that they are not so exciting. Some people overcommit to social activities because they fear being left behind. FOMO can also keep people constantly monitoring their devices for fear they will miss a critical message. Digital detoxing is an excellent tool for setting boundaries to avoid wasting time.


What is a digital detox?

A digital detox is getting off technology for some time to reevaluate and get perspective on your use and dependence on technology. It can be a powerful way to reassess your daily habits and improve your mental health.

How do I detox myself digitally?

I highly recommend reading Stolen Focus by Johann Hari. He explains his experiments in-depth in conducting short and long digital detoxes. It’s an eye-opening read explaining how the short bursts of endorphins from social media and technology use affect our ability to pay attention and focus longer.

Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention – and How to Think Deeply Again
$20.00 $14.59

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Our ability to pay attention is collapsing. From the author of Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections comes a groundbreaking examination of why this is happening—and how to get our attention back.

“The book the world needs in order to win the war on distraction.”—Adam Grant, author of Think Again

05/04/2024 09:00 am GMT

How long does a digital detox take?

A digital detox can take a few days to weeks or months. If you have a larger project to complete, an extended break from social media will help your ability to have a deeper focus.

In Florence Williams’ podcast series, The 3-Day Effect, she talks about how three days in the wild can make us happier, healthier, and more creative. I’d start with an evening after dinner or an 8 am-12 noon over the weekend… and go from there!

Is a digital detox worth it?

Even short breaks from social media apps and digital distractions can benefit your mental health. Even after deleting Facebook from my phone, I kept catching myself clicking on the screen to open the app. It made me aware of how often I looked for it or clicked on that spot to open the app. In these moments, I was numbing out and looking for something to fill the idle void.

Removing these apps for a few months allowed me to gain perspective on how I was using the apps and when. If you want to reduce stress or create healthier mental health habits, I highly recommend looking at your smartphone usage and planning a digital detox.

It’s Time To Create Boundaries and Break Strong Digital Habits

I understand how hard it can be to break away from the screen and take control of your digital habits. But don’t worry; you’re not alone. Let’s work together to make this your year to break free and start living a healthier, happier life.

The benefits of a digital detox are still evolving, especially among young adults, and with our growing use of social media platforms, apps, and devices, this will be an area for much research in the coming years.

It’s time to unplug, destress, and prepare to make this year the best!

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