Do you need a digital detox for the holidays?…and 6 quick tips on how to do it if you do.

Recently while dining at a restaurant, I was truly amazed at one family who placed their cell phones on the table, took calls during the meal while their kids used personal iPads to play games. No one conversed with each other. That people, is crazy! No wonder people are stressed and struggling to sleep properly!
A study by Time magazdreamstime_m_34952618 (2)ine shows that 68% of Americans are taking cell phones to bed and 36% are texting and posting on Facebook while eating out at a restaurant. I can attest that these statements are true. While smart phones are undoubtedly amazing, research shows it’s also important to consider there is a hidden cost to constant connection. Continually checking the phone is actually considered an addictive behavior. According to Psychology Today, dopamine is emitted every time we check our cell phone for twitter, facebook, and emails. There is an instant feeling of “I’m needed/involved/wanted” with a comment or message. This rush can be addictive, so the more the phone is checked, the more addictive it becomes, and the more one wants to keep checking. It gives strong feedback on how one feels.

For example, do any of these sound familiar?

Feeling distracted or disorganized and the inability to concentrate on things for more than a few seconds at a time.
Short attention span leading to a short-term perspective. Long term goals are not realized.
Multi-tasking with a reduction in creativity and innovation.
Less and less connection and enjoyment from what you are doing at the time.. a disconnect of interaction with friends or family.
Connection and engagement in life with real people is reduced. Happiness goes down and dissatisfaction goes up. Reduced sleep quality disrupting the natural rhythm of life.
The reality is that the majority of us are not on call for emergency surgery. We aren’t going to save lives. And I, as an anesthetist who was on call 24-7, can tell you the day I no longer had to stay tuned in to a beeper and phone was the most stress-reducing day of my life. Ninety-nine percent of the time, answering an email or voicemail a few  hours later makes no difference to anyone. Really. The vast majority of us just don’t need to be continually plugged in. You may well benefit from taking time to disconnect and regain some perspective in your life away from  an addictive loop of instant gratification.
So, if you can check any of these you need  a Digital Detox:
The thumb on your dominant hand is sore from all the scrolling.
 The first thing you do when you awaken is check your phone.
 Separation from your phone causes distraction and nervousness.
 Panic sets in when the battery is running low on your phone.
 A lack of concentration and a sense of feeling rushed is constant.
How To Digital Detox?unplugged
Go out to dinner and leave the phone at home, taste the food, enjoy the conversation you are having at that moment. Talking or texting on the phone in a restaurant is rude to your dining companion and to other customers.
Establish a “Phone Curfew” at home on Christmas Eve night, Christmas morning and Christmas day dinner. Turn all phones off so you can truly connect with your family or kids.
Leave the phone at home when you take a walk or jog.
Turn off the phones during your favorite TV programs. Nothing is worse for others in the room with you talking or texting while they are trying to enjoy a movie or a football game.
Go to a coffee-house or library and spend a couple of phone-free hours working on your novel, or read a book.
Turn off the phone when driving. It’s safer all around.
Just one Detox rule, can make a difference in your connection to others. What would you add to this list?

For further reading: Cell Phone Addiction Similar to Compulsive Buying and Credit Card Misuse, According to Baylor Study

Medical Daily: technology addiction  warning signs



7 thoughts on “Do you need a digital detox for the holidays?…and 6 quick tips on how to do it if you do.

  1. I would add that you should ask your dinner companions to do the same. Recently, I was at a dinner with a group of friends and most were on their phones, answering and sending texts, etc.
    One person laughed and asked everyone to put their cell phones away. She was exactly right. We all got together for dinner so that we could spend time together…..not on our phones.


  2. Your comment proves we are really in the texting generation. I, of course, can remember when cell phones first became popular. Seeing people walking and talking loudly at their cell phones was almost startling. Thanks for commenting.


  3. A sad statement of how people can’t just be happy. Constantly checking to see if so and so has messaged them, because it will fill their day with a feeling of purpose? Reality check. Plant a garden, read a book (or write one!), learn to play a musical instrument, bake something, clean your house, make a card for an upcoming occasion, etc. etc. Imagine all the creativity not being utilized or developed, while wasting time checking if so and so messaged you with some inconsequential thing. I see it as a method to keep from having a meaningful life.


  4. I buy minutes, keep the phone turned off and only carry it if I am away from home or traveling for any distance.. They can be annoying, and I don’t like the interruption by ringing or even a vibration when I am working.
    Turn the darn things off if you do not have to be on them for work. I can’t understand this desperation to always be tuned in. I’ve got an answering machine and an email, and I check each at least once a day. But then I grew up in an era when we didn’t need to be attached like umbilical cords to gadgets, and learned early to entertain ourselves if friends weren’t available to talk to or play with.


    • Some of us don’t have a choice. The key word is work. So many people are tied to them by their need to keep in contact with customers or employees. Some of us have very needy bosses/employees that keep us tied to our phones because god forbid you didn’t see one of 20 emails as soon as you wake in the morning from the SAME PERSON.


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