When your phone buzzes or a notification pops up your screen, do you stop what you’re doing to look and respond?
Do you have multiple devices constantly competing for your attention at all times?
Do you find it hard to sit still for a bit without checking your phone or social media feeds?
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A digital break can be extremely helpful for people who feel like they are always on their digital devices being constantly bombarded with notifications, or feel that they are hopelessly addicted to their black screens.
If you are part of the 1%, you can take yourself on the unpluggedweekend retreat that promises you a break from it all. For the rest of us peasants, taking digital breaks should still be an essential part of our personal policies.
Time is a precious, nonrenewable resource. Being aware of our digital consumption is not just an aspirational lifestyle choice for the riches.
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Why digital break?
In a previous post, radical digital detox ideas, I mentioned that taking a break from the digital world is something I’m working hard to implement into my daily routine to avoid wasting time online.
Whenever I feel negative emotions creeping up, I find myself looking for escape by seeking distractions. Usually, these distractions come from browsing the Internet.
My favourite escape is reading comments on online forums, mostly reddit, and getting lost in other people’s stories, opinions, and ideas. It might have something to do with the fact that I find how humans interact with the social world extremely fascinating (hello, Sociology major).
However, escaping from uncomfortable feelings and emotions via the digital world almost never solves the issue, but simply prolong the feelings.
This is especially true when we are also avoiding taking care of our responsibilities. After hours spent escaping into the digital world, the real world still awaits us. The dishes remain undone, the dog unfed, the deadlines approaching, and the house disorganized.
Whatever we escape into is also almost always pointless crap, because moments later we have no recollection of whatever it is that we just watched or read to distract ourselves.
It is simply escapism.
From personal experiences, getting away from digital distractions forces us to avoid escapism and confront whatever feeling we might be feeling, wether it is boredom, sadness, or anxiety.
The best escape is to get busy with the activities and responsibilities we value, and be in the moment.
Spending time online must be an elective experience rather than a default setting.
While there are many ways to incorporate digital breaks into our routine, and is unique to each individual, here are some ideas I have found to be useful for taking a break from the digital world.
Daily Digital Breaks
Right after waking up, do not use phone, laptop and other digital electronics for at least an hour, or until after leaving the house. After work, put all digital stuff away and out of reach for a couple of hours. This practise is truly a bliss, especially, if your work requires staring at a computer screen every day.
Weekly Digital Breaks
Once a week, unplug from screens and go offline for a whole evening. Indulge in offline activities that make your life better, such as reading, getting creative, cooking and cleaning.
Monthly Digital Breaks
Once a month, take a day off from your smartphone, laptop, tablets, tv, etc. and do things completely offline. Another challenge is to put phone away for a whole weekend and do productive and fun activities in the offline world.
The point of taking a digital break, in my opinion at least, is to consciously set time aside to minimize the noise and allow time for silence, contemplation, and boredom.
In order to incorporate these ideas, make it your personal policy to take a digital break daily, weekly, or monthly.