Have you lost track of how many times you’ve checked your phone today? Is your phone the first thing you grab after waking up and the last thing you see before falling asleep? If the answer to these questions is yes, you should consider a phone detox.
Turning to your phone in every situation and constantly being dependent on it negatively impacts your quality of life. We tend to be immersed in our phone screens all the time, neglecting the people and the world around us.
If you’ve never tried detoxing from your phone before, we’ve prepared a helpful guide to help you get started. First, we’ll explain what phone detoxing entails and list some critical signs of phone addiction, after which we’ll discuss the best detox strategies. Let’s dive in!
What Is a Phone Cleanse?
Detoxing from your phone can mean one of two things: either significantly reducing your phone usage and optimizing its setup so that it wouldn’t distract you from your day-to-day activities or going completely phoneless for a certain period.
So, what does this mean? Essentially, you’d be dropping the following habits:
- Constantly checking your phone.
- Instantly replying to all your calls and messages.
- Replacing face-to-face interactions with instant messaging.
- Using your phone while spending time with other people.
- Using your phone around bedtime.
- Spending endless hours scrolling through your apps.
- Neglecting work for your phone.
If this were a checklist, you’d probably tick most boxes. Excessive smartphone time causes a series of issues you might not be aware of at first, so keep reading to better understand the importance of detox.
Why Do I Need a Phone Detox?
Surveys have shown that Americans check their phones every 4 minutes per day, which is 344 times per day! There are many legitimate reasons you need to take a break from your phone, so let’s talk about the major ones.
In our guide on doing a digital detox, we discussed the chemical reaction behind addiction — the dopamine rushes our phone triggers each time we receive a notification. Opening your favorite apps instigates a feeling of euphoria and endorphin boosts.
Over time, you crave these pleasant sensations and return to your phone for an instant boost. After a while, the euphoria weakens or is no longer there, but you still can’t imagine separating from your phone or going phoneless even for a day.
Here are some signs you might be addicted to your phone:
- You always keep your phone in sight.
- You feel anxious when someone else holds your phone.
- You feel fantom vibrations when your phone is in your pocket.
- You immediately stop what you’re doing to reply to messages and emails.
- In turn, you can’t do any activity without using your phone.
- You’re not mentally present and don’t pay attention to your surroundings.
Phone addiction is a severe issue, especially today when tech giants do everything to keep us hooked on their apps. Raising awareness of this unhealthy connection is the first step to a successful smartphone detox.
Attention Deficiency Disorders
Attention deficit disorders go hand in hand with phone addiction, and some studies show that too much screen time increases the probability of developing ADHD symptoms. Some of these are distractability, a shorter attention span, and a need for instant gratification.
Distraction is a major side-effect of ADD. Just think of all the times you picked up your phone while doing something else, and before you know it, you’ve been scrolling for half an hour. You feel unproductive and guilty, but it’s difficult to kick the habit.
Mental health issues
A phone detox is a way of taking care of your mental health, which can be deeply affected by constant notifications from social media, news apps, and other alerts. Potentially unsettling content and non-stop information influx are major triggers for stress, anxiety, or depression.
People also use their phones as a distraction from their real-life problems. Scrolling for hours is an unhealthy coping mechanism because it fuels your addiction and replaces one source of stress with another.
Poor social life
Back in the brick phone era, we used to foster our relationships and spend more time with other people. Now that everyone we care about is available on our smartphones, we have less reason to meet them in person, ending up lonelier than ever.
This reinforcement of social contact through the phone essentially drives us away from one another, so our social intelligence deteriorates. This is especially harmful to children and teenagers, as they’re exposed to this lifestyle during their formative years.
How to Do a Phone Detox?
Detoxing means tackling the problem both physically and mentally. Now that we’ve seen the key reasons you’re ready for a detox let’s talk about ways to learn to detach from your phone successfully.
Deoptimize your phone
An excellent way to start your detox is to sweep through your phone and make it less intruding. The first step is to change your notification settings by turning off any alerts you never read, the vibration, and other sounds that might attract you to check your phone.
Deoptimization includes deleting any apps you might be overusing, mainly social media apps. Facebook, YouTube, or Snapchat — delete them all. If you’re struggling with social media addiction, read our guide on social media detox.
Another good tip is to turn your display to grayscale. When the colorful images on Instagram stop captivating your attention, you’re less likely to spend hours scrolling, and you won’t feel like changing the setting back to color every time you pick up your phone.
Download a phone detox app
Good news, everyone — you don’t have to go phoneless to detox from your phone. You can try various apps that help you control your phone usage, such as the Space App or Freedom App. These apps are designed to reprogram your behavior and break phone addiction.
Space app helps you understand the negative ways your phone impacts your life, and the Freedom app has the option of blocking overused websites so you can focus on work. You can download this app to your smartphone and computer for better results.
Another such app is Break Free, which helps you monitor your addiction levels by monitoring your pattern of use and measuring an addiction score. There are plenty of such apps, so be sure to explore your App Store or Google Play to find the best one for you.
Try a mindfulness phone detox
Mindfulness is a very popular practice for dealing with multiple mental health issues. It’s especially effective for dealing with digital addiction as it mitigates many side effects such as distractibility, anxiety, or sleep disorders.
Mindfulness teaches you to be present — precisely what your phone prevents you from doing. It requires a dose of self-reflection and awareness, so the questions you should be asking yourself the next time you grab your phone are the following:
- Why am I doing this? Answering this question helps you see how many times you reached for your phone without needing to do it, but rather out of boredom or habit.
- How am I feeling after spending some time on my phone? Do you feel calm, stressed out, or anxious? The key to this step is not to blame yourself for those feelings, just to recognize and accept them.
- How’s my posture? A sound reason to learn how to detox from your phone is to maintain a healthy posture. We tend to slouch and hunch when looking at our phones, which strains our neck and shoulders and impacts our emotional state.
Using your phone mindfully helps you reclaim your place in your surroundings and improve your overall health and well-being.
Hide your phone
We talked about how your addiction entails keeping your phone close, so one of the best strategies is to remove it from sight at certain times so you wouldn’t be tempted to pick it up.
Good times to remove your phone from your vicinity are:
- During meals. Distracted eating is a serious problem, and your phone has the same negative impacts on your health as eating dinner in front of the TV. Bad posture, eating more than you usually would, and even obesity are just some issues you can avoid if you take up a profound phone cleanse.
- During bedtime. The phone in the bedroom is a one-way ticket to sleep deprivation. Infinite scrolling will keep you up at night and longer in bed in the morning. Stop getting caught up in this vicious circle and leave your phone in a different room. If your excuse is your alarm, get an alarm clock.
- When working. You’ve seen how harmful your phone can be for focus and productivity, so prioritize finishing your work before rewarding yourself with some screen time.
- During social gatherings. Meaningful relationships are essential for our mental well-being, so don’t let your phone stand between you and your family and friends.
Do a phone detox challenge
Phone detox challenges are currently all the rage, and there are so many to choose from. You can find a detox challenge plan and combine it with a detox app. The challenges save you some time in brainstorming activities you can do as part of your detox.
You can choose challenges that last for a day, a week, or a whole month. There are apps, books, and programs that have pre-made plans for each day of your detox, with challenges such as limiting your usage for two hours a day or not taking out your phone while walking.
An exciting detox challenge is to apply to a phone detox retreat. These retreats limit or ban phone usage, and more importantly, they help you revitalize your body and mind and reconnect with other people.
Spend quality time with other people
Insist on spending quality time with your family and friends, and ask them to put away their phones too. Support is of immeasurable significance for your detox, as you’ll have more willpower to do it if you’re not alone.
Have you heard of phubbing? You probably do it without noticing, too. Remember when you were talking to a friend, and they suddenly took out their phone and stopped listening to you? Kick this habit once and for all and engage in meaningful conversations and activities.
A harsh reality of the modern world is that we’re all constantly glued to our phones, so much so that they’ve become essential living items instead of just handy devices. A little decisiveness and perseverance go a long way, and you can reap numerous phone detox benefits, so why not start today?
What is a dumbphone?
A “ dumb phone” is the opposite of a smartphone — a cellphone with limited or no internet and computing capacity. They have a touch screen, but they’re mainly used for texting and calling, so they’re a great option for a detox. Their target users are the elderly because they’re easy to use and don’t offer as many features as smartphones.
What are the benefits of a phone detox?
Taking a break from your phone brings many benefits, but here are some of the most important ones:
- You sleep better
- You’re more productive and focused on your work
- You have more time for other activities
- You reconnect with other people
- You take care of your mental health
- You learn to take control of your life instead of being controlled by your phone
When is a good time for a phone detox?
There is no good or bad time for a detox — the best time is right now. If you feel overwhelmed and stressed out because you’re stuck on your phone all the time, you’re ready to hit the reset button.
If you need to stay connected for work or similar obligations, you can organize your detox outside that time. For example, you can limit your phone usage until 9 PM, turn off your notifications when you come home from work, etc.
What is a phone detox tree?
There’s a great productivity app called Forest that asks you to plant a tree each time you feel like disconnecting, and these trees will grow into a forest as long as you spend enough time away from your phone.
You can’t check your phone within half an hour from planting the tree, or it will die. You can measure your progress by seeing how many virtual trees you’ve planted, and more trees mean more time spent disconnected.