Lifestyle changes: How to detox from your phone

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In the first of our slightly different lifestyle changes detox articles Karen Northfield offers tips on winning the mobile battle.

There is a saying that goes: “It’s not you that owns your car but your car that owns you.” In the same way we could say this of our phones. Smartphones empower us in many ways, helping us to be more independent and productive in many aspects of our lives. However, some of us are spending more time on our phones than we are with other human beings to the point that they are taking over our time and mental cognition. Are we conscious of just how engrossed we have become in the digital and the virtual worlds?

If you’re reaching for your phone the moment you wake up or looking at social media posts before you go to sleep, it’s worth questioning the relationship you have with your phone. Feeling incomplete, awkward or anxious without your device are signs of addiction. More and more studies are suggesting that the use of consumer electronics along with social media have harmful and toxic effects on our brain. Overconsumption can lead to brain fog, loss of cognition and disruptive sleep or insomnia.

The good news is, it’s not too late to ‘detox’ from your digital device. Starting a digital cleanse is the same as eliminating foods and substances that are harmful to our health. It is useful to access how much and what you are using your phone for, and what steps you can take to consume healthily

Digital addiction
It’s hard to imagine our lives today without a smart phone. And yet, just a few decades ago we left our phones – landlines mind you – at home. Our phones today have taken such a dominant and central role in our lives that we have become reliant on them. They are sophisticated to the point of enabling us to connect for business, social engagement and pleasure.

When Steve Jobs announced the original iPhone a decade ago, it would soon disrupt many industries and create others. Most people don’t buy digital cameras or alarm clocks any more as these are incorporated in smartphones. CDs, DVDs and PlayStations have become old-fashioned. Instead we consume music and videos digitally. Fax machines and desk computers are antique. We can photograph, scan, attach and send documents directly with our phones. We can even shop and complete banking transactions without having to go in person to the bank. Additionally, smartphones can be viewed as an extension of our brain in that they come with a certain amount of storage or ‘memory’. Smartphones allow us to do everything with one single device – on the go.

Our phones contain more processing power than the first rocket ever launched into space. Every year, newer devices are unveiled with a new design and new ‘spec’ to outperform the competition. Businesses understand the brain’s addiction and entice us into staying switched on by consuming their apps and social media. In today’s world we have become so obsessed with buying the latest version and so engrossed in our devices that the average user is engaged between three to five hours (even up to eight hours) and checks their device as often as 150 times over the course of a day.