Reduce Stress and Anxiety with a Digital Detox

NARA | Mind

woman putting phone into basket

Do you scroll mindlessly on social media whenever you get a free moment?

Does the low battery sign give you nomophobia – the fear of being away from your smartphone?

If you spend most of your day listening to, watching, or interacting with devices, digital boundaries can help.

We’re not suggesting you swear off technology altogether – but unplugging with a digital detox supports mental well-being.

How technology impacts mental (and physical) health

Technology has changed the world in ways our ancestors could only have dreamed of. However, your addictive pocket friend may be sapping your mental energy and making you more anxious.

The sharp increase in smartphone and social media use has paralleled the rising rates of anxiety over the last few decades – especially among teens.

While you might think you’re connecting with others online, excessive social media use makes us less satisfied with our IRL lives. Plus, digital devices have become convenient tools to distract us from difficult emotions.

It’s not only bad for mental health; smartphones and laptops cause eyestrain, poor posture, and something called “tech neck.” Staring at bright screens late at night also prevents you from getting restorative sleep. And you know how *disastrous* that is for your mood!

Digital devices change the brain

Smartphones give you a dopamine rush when you send a text, get a “like,” or refresh your feed.

When you put the phone down, your brain protests as it searches for another dopamine hit. Screen time is *literally* changing your brain.

6 Tips to Do a Digital Detox:

Just as detoxing from junk food helps you feel your best physically, a digital detox can help your mind.

We’re not talking about dropping all technology and moving to the woods. That’s not realistic. Instead, start setting boundaries by finding moments of disconnection throughout the day.

1. Turn off non-urgent notifications

Most of the notifications you get on your phone are not urgent. However, these constant alerts are putting your nervous system on edge. It sends you into fight-or-flight mode.

So, turn off push notifications for news sites, Twitter, Facebook, and Whatsapp. You can still check these apps, but removing notifications reduces the distraction.

2. Delete social media apps from your phone

Having multiple social media apps on your phone (we’re talking Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter) pushes you to check them all the time out of habit and convenience. We recommend uninstalling social media apps and only checking these accounts on your laptop or desktop.

As your brain adjusts, you won’t reach for your phone nearly as often. And less time on social media can transform your mental health and sleep quality.

If your work involves social media, create boundaries by leaving work at work and being present at home.

3. Keep tech out of the bedroom

Screen time at night ruins sleep quality due to the bright blue light exposure. Plus, research shows social media use before bed may trigger anxiety and insomnia.

Make your bedroom a tech-free zone. No TV, no working on your laptop before bed, and no doom scrolling on your smartphone as your partner sleeps peacefully.

You can also set a digital curfew by powering down your devices an hour before bed. If you need help waking up, buy an old-school alarm clock.

4. Use tech to your advantage

Smartphone manufacturers have made it easier to monitor and set daily screen time limits and block notoriously distracting apps.

The Screen Time feature on iPhone helps you set daily limits for single apps or categories of apps (like social media and gaming). For Android users, Digital Wellbeing has a “focus mode”, which prevents you from accessing your social media accounts (and other apps) for a period.

5. Don’t reply to emails on demand

If the urge to constantly refresh your emails is causing anxiety, you will struggle to get into a productive “flow state.”

Instead, we encourage setting aside two half-hour windows each day (morning and afternoon) to sit at the computer and dedicate time to clearing your inbox. Studies show this significantly reduces stress.

6. Take regular outdoor breaks

Many of us stay indoors for most of the day, glued to our devices. There always seems to be a screen calling our attention, whether for work or play. As you can imagine, this results in a sedentary lifestyle, and the lack of natural light destroys your sleep-wake cycle.

Luckily, you can change this by taking mini phone-free breaks throughout the day.

When the weather is nice, take a walk (without listening to music), drink your morning coffee outdoors, or take your shoes off and ground yourself for 10 minutes in the garden or park. If you make this a regular habit, you’ll feel like a new person.

Wrapping up

Regular tech breaks help your brain rest and recharge, making you more present and less anxious.Implementing some of these tried-and-tested “hacks” will help you engage with your devices in a healthier way. In turn, you’ll notice improvements in your mental health, sleep, productivity, and relationship.

Streamline your path mind-and-body wellness.