In recent years, the idea of “digital detoxing” has become popular among people seeking a break from the 21st century. For a certain period, you refrain from using your smartphone, your laptop, and all other connected devices. After multiple tries, I can safely say that sporadic spells of tech abstinence have a positive influence on our mindfulness, productivity, and serenity. On this basis, here are six transformative benefits of a digital detox.
A few years ago, I spent a week in Chilean Patagonia. The region remains one of my favorite spots on the planet, with soaring mountains towering over icy glaciers and abundant wildlife.
Most of the region is cut off from the outside world, with limited internet connectivity and only a handful of urbanized settlements.
This area is the ideal place to stop reading futile emails, reduce my screen time, and curb my social media usage. My first digital detox had begun.
For five days, I didn’t use my laptop, smartphone, or any other screen. I spent the entirety of the trip admiring the magnificent natural beauty of my surroundings, talking to the people in my group, and reading books at night.
The effects were transformative.
After Patagonia, I decided to make digital detoxes an annual tradition.
Since then, I’ve switched off my digital life on numerous occasions, usually in remote areas like the Australian Outback or the Amazon jungle.
To keep it short but effective, my annual detox lasts for five days.
The benefits of a digital detox
Before asking yourself whether digital detoxes are only possible in the Patagonias of this world, fear not.
Curbing your screen time can easily be achieved at home if you have the proper discipline.
The effect will be the same, and the long-term advantages will come to fruition regardless of whether you’re detoxing in the wild or at home.
On this basis, here are six transformative benefits of a digital detox.
Improving your sleep and health
The first main benefit of an escape from the digital world is better sleep.
Ask yourself: how often do you check your phone at night and in the morning?
Many people look at their social media notifications before going to bed and right after getting up. The act might seem trivial, but it creates a lot of stress in our sub-conscience.
We feel connected in our beds, preventing our minds from fully shutting down at night. And this internal stress hampers the quality of our sleep.
Aside from better sleep, digital detoxes have various other health benefits.
In this context, training your eyes to look everywhere but screens, walking more as a result of not using ride-hailing apps, and cooking at home due to the absence of delivery apps all work in favor of your physical and mental health.
Another powerful benefit of digital detoxing is the chance to eliminate comparisons.
While on-screen, we constantly see and hear about other people. We see someone who is supposedly beautiful, successful, and smart.
Social media platforms bombard us with standards, expectations, and “role models.”
Inspiration is crucial, but comparisons are generally harmful. Because nobody can live anyone else’s life, we cannot compare ourselves to someone else.
We can become a better version of ourselves by improving our physique, learning new languages, and taking on professional challenges, but we can never become someone else.
A digital detox will enable you to ignore the existence of other people for a short period, destroying all potential comparisons.
The break from comparisons will help you focus on your strengths and weaknesses – you’ll take an honest look at yourself.
With a bit of luck, you’ll come out of your detoxing cave with a fresh view on how you can better yourself without having to conform to someone else’s standards.
A chance to cut out distractions
There are many ways to cut out distractions in everyday life. You can stop multi-tasking, meditate regularly, and train your focus with mental exercises.
Nothing, however, beats a digital detox when it comes to eliminating distractions.
We all need moments of quietness and solitude from time to time. We plan the next big project, assess our life’s trajectory, and define new priorities.
These periods of reflection require distraction-free surroundings as well as unbroken serenity. And digital detoxes are the perfect way to meet these conditions.
Mindfulness and peace
Akin to creating a distraction-free environment, digital detoxes can boost your general mindfulness and further your inner peace.
By unplugging from the digital world, you’ll be able to direct your thoughts toward other things, like your surroundings, your social interactions, and your mental response to external events.
When facing a tough situation, we often escape by watching stuff online, scrolling down social media feeds, or playing video games.
Why not try to respond to negativity by exploring your inner state?
Instead of fleeing into the digital world, take out a pen, and write down your thoughts in a journal.
Journaling is crucial for any personal growth endeavor, and digital detoxes are the perfect time to double down on your journaling habit.
Aside from journaling, use the next difficult moment to train your mental strength. Don’t try to shift your focus toward other things, analyze the situation you’re in.
Take your digital detox as an opportunity to meditate, think about your life, and mentally prepare the next steps.
More face-to-face interactions and personal challenges
The benefits of a digital detox certainly also include an increased number of face-to-face interactions.
Before traveling to Chile, my Spanish was basic. My grammar was solid, and my vocabulary was satisfactory. My speaking skills, however, were terrible.
Worse still, in the Andean nation, I couldn’t understand the ubiquitous slang words, and I had trouble with the speed at which Chileans munch the endings.
For my organized trip to Patagonia, I deliberately chose a Spanish-speaking group. I figured that this would force me to speak and also enable me to meet new people and learn more about Chilean culture.
The advantages of my digital detox came into full effect.
As I didn’t use my phone and laptop, I spent most of the time chatting with people in the group, all of whom were Chilean or Argentinian.
A week might not seem like much, but non-stop speaking and listening worked wonders for my Spanish skills.
In addition to language learning, I met two people who became good friends, one of whom invited me to Buenos Aires three years later.
Had I not committed to the digital detox, I probably wouldn’t have talked as much, built deep connections, and improved my Spanish skills.
Consequently, going on a digital detox will force you to initiate more face-to-face interactions and take on new personal challenges.
An opportunity to imagine a different world
Finally, going on a digital detox is the only way to travel back in time and imagine a different world.
We all have grandparents who tell us about how they met people back in the day.
We didn’t call or text. We rocked up at a bar in the hope of knowing someone there.
There were no dating apps, no social media notifications, and no incessant email reminders.
In this context, digital detoxes allow us to experience a different era in history.
Of course, a digital detox is always temporary.
After all, we wouldn’t want to live or work without technology. Detoxes are never supposed to become permanent states of affairs.
Nevertheless, temporary breaks from our high-tech world can work magic. A few days might seem short, but the benefits can last for months.
Useful links on 6 Transformative Benefits of a Digital Detox
- more in the section “Life”
- read A Minimalist Approach to Social Media
- more under the topic “Mindfulness”
- read How to Know When It’s Time to Slow Your Life Down
Don’t miss a beat!
Jack Krier is a writer, photographer, and full-time globetrotter. Thanks to minimalism, he built his ideal lifestyle around travel and online entrepreneurship, becoming a digital nomad in the process. On Minimalist Focus, he shares his ideas on minimalism and lifestyle design, helping thousands of readers improve their lives by focusing on the essentials.