Digital Detox: 6 Keys to Living in Balance with Technology

The first time I interacted with a wireless phone, I knew something was off. I can physically feel the energy from all wireless devices, and it doesn’t feel good. It’s called electromagnetic sensitivity and my journey with it has inspired me to curate research, connect to experts, and spread awareness about how technology is affecting our minds, bodies, and spirits.

Consider this: 3 in 10 adults and half of adults under 30 say, “I’m online constantly.” Have you seen them? Is this you or someone you know?

Digital Addiction is Real

Scientists have been studying how our brains have changed as technology has become more and more pervasive. They agree that at least some types of internet addiction are in fact, a real thing, and it’s intentional. Strategic marketers have been teaming up with behavioral psychologists to design products that can entice, enthrall, distract and addict. If you’re online constantly, it could be because you are falling victim to their plan to stimulate your dopamine.

Powerful surges of dopamine can lead to addiction

The pleasure or reward center of our brain is controlled and regulated by this neurotransmitter. When something triggers the reward center, dopamine is released, leading to a little high – which is why it’s called the feel-good neurotransmitter.

Dopamine rushes can come from a fantastic meal, a compliment, or even signals from your most personal device, your smartphone. The likes, the notifications, the texts, and the games are all opportunity for rewards.

Designed to Addict

Ramsay Brown, an App developer, told 60 minutes that his firm uses tactics to “make you feel a little extra awesome to get you to come back into the app longer.” He even pointed out how Instagram “holds” likes and then delivers them all at once to make the experience more exciting.

How comfortable we have become with our always-on, always-connected lives. With more smartphones than people on the planet, we take for granted being able to instantly get the answer to any question ever asked or hear any song ever recorded. Could this fabulous life of connectedness and convenience be leading to a widespread and very cunning addiction? Could you be one of the estimated (up to 8.2%) of the population that is suffering from Internet Addiction Disorder? (IAD)

How to Know if You’re Addicted

Like any addiction, it’s serious and manifests with symptoms like not being able to control behavior, withdrawing from other pleasurable activities and body aches and pains. Net Addiction Center founder. Dr. Kimberly Young created an abbreviated version of her 20 point IAD test, and you can take it here.

Most people will find they are not actually addicted, but that their dependence on their device is crushing their spirit.

Tech and Your Wellbeing

For many, waking up from a dreamy sleep and swiping right can trigger an anticipatory flow of anxiety. Just seeing the stream of emails, texts, and social media can initiate a stress response.

It’s also fascinating that being away from the phone can be stressful as well. Research shows that being forced to put a smartphone away for 15 minutes, ignited the fight or flight response that’s triggered by overwhelm. Our brain signals our adrenal gland to release cortisol—the body’s primary stress hormone. High cortisol levels have been linked to anxiety, heart disease, sleep issues, and headaches.

Then there’s your precious brain-power. Our phones can take that from us too. A recent study shows that the mere presence of your phone in the room can significantly reduce your cognitive capacity while working on other important tasks.

Mindfulness Matters

Awareness and mindfulness are your superpowers when it comes to staying away from addiction. Dr. Ofir Turell, a research scientist’s latest study, showed that just like with other addictions, people who showed symptoms of social media addiction had less grey matter in their brains. However, unlike other addictions, where the control center of the brain has been compromised, the control centers of those who were addicted to social media were completely intact. This means that they had the power to control their social media use. How? Dr. Turel said they just needed to find some internal motivation or desire that made them feel better than scrolling their feeds, allowing them to be mindful of their obsession and refocus their energy.

You are powerful. The absolute best way to avoid the toxic side effects of technology and prevent addiction, stress, and even potentially harmful EMF radiation is to find a healthy balance with the devices in your life.

6 Keys To Practicing Tech Wellness

Turn off your notificationsIt will reduce the dopamine release and keep phone checks to only the necessities. 

Dine sans devices. Put the phones away and focus on the person or experience in front of you.

Keep your devices out of your sleeping area. Don’t let a screen be the first and last thing you see every day. Plus, being clear of all EMF radiation makes for a lovely night’s rest.

Try weekly, daily, or hourly digital detoxes. Relax your brain, stay present, and reduce your dependence.

Wear Blue Light Blocking Glasses after sunset. Digital Blue light can cause eyesight issues and can interrupt your body’s natural wakefulness and sleep cycle.

Set a Social Media schedule. If you need to Tweet, Facebook chat, or Instagram daily, then set a time limit and stick to it. We love using an analog timer to keep track of our screen time.

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