I have always considered myself to have a good relationship with my phone. I’ll never forget a time in college, just about the time that my friends and I started retiring our BBM statuses for the latest iPhone, that I left my phone upstairs in my dorm room to charge. I was sitting with a few of my roommates, doing homework at our kitchen table when my friend asked if I had gotten so-and-so’s text, and I had to explain I hadn’t checked my phone because it was upstairs. She replied with a dramatic look of shock on her face, “I don’t know how you do that.”
In fact, I used to participate in digital detoxes all the time before they were even really a thing. I gave up Facebook for Lent one year to focus on my schoolwork and noticed how much more free time I had to read The New York Times and hit the gym. But that all quickly came to an end once I finished school and landed my first job at a social media advertising agency, where being away from my phone for a few hours hour (let alone several weeks) was simply not an option.
Between staying on top of emails despite an ever-growing inbox; posting clever captions in-feed; and scrolling through Instagram Stories, tweets, IGTVs, or whatever the latest trending medium is, my eyes are constantly glued to several devices—sometimes all at once. But in the years since social media has become a core part of my career (and especially the past two, in which I’ve started working directly in the wellness space), I have finally found a balance between staying on top of my work in the digital world and being able to look at something else besides a screen once in a while. Here are some of my best (and super doable, no matter what your job is) tips for practicing digital wellness.
Utilize Do Not Disturb Mode
Let’s start off with an obvious (and fairly easy) practice: Turning your phone on Do Not Disturb mode, especially before bedtime. Truthfully, I started incorporating this ritual into my bedtime routine because, since most of my friends live across the country from me, I would constantly be woken up with pings and DMs at 3 a.m. Alas, it’s still a wonderful tool if you’re looking to crack down on blue-light emissions before bed but aren’t ready to commit to fully turning your device off.
Block Off Time in Your Calendar for Daily Breaks
Even if your job doesn’t require you to be on your phone all day, there’s a solid chance it does require you to look at a computer screen for several hours at a time. I always take breaks during the workday to head outside and go for a walk. Consider it a great excuse to grab lunch, re-caffeinate with a cup of coffee, or even just to grab a breath of fresh air. If you live in an area where going outside isn’t exactly accessible all year long, read a book (extra points if it’s hard copy!) during your lunch break or even just stand up and stretch once in a while.
Don't Scroll Through Instagram After Immediately Waking Up
This used to be a really bad habit of mine until I noticed that scrolling through social media and checking emails (even if it was for work) was actually putting me behind schedule and making me scramble to make it to the office in time. Finally, I set a simple rule for myself: As soon as I turn off my alarm in the morning, I would check any immediate texts and start getting ready for the day without looking at social media or emails. I mean, if anything was truly urgent, you would receive a text or a call, right? I started carving out a few minutes every morning (after I had my morning tea, of course) to go through all my emails and check social media. Having a nice mini digital detox every morning helps keep me on track and, honestly, gets me out the door way faster.
Set Aside Time for No-Phone Zones
My boyfriend and I constantly argue about who spends more time on their phone. While I claim he isn’t actually listening to me while checking the latest sports news and he claims I am constantly on my phone even when we’re at dinner or watching a movie, we can both agree that we need to practice more presence when in each other’s company. So we’ve both made it a priority to spend less time on our phones this year and enjoy more time together IRL. Some of my go-to tricks are leaving my phone in another room to charge, turning on Airplane Mode during hikes and other activities where I want to take photos without being tempted to respond to texts or post on Instagram, and keeping my phone in my purse at dinner instead of on the table in front of me.
Mute Anyone Who Is No Longer Relevant to You (and Unfollow If Necessary)
I’m not sure if everyone knows about this handy tool, but you can now mute accounts on Instagram so they no longer appear in your feed or Instagram Story roll. (You can also do this on Facebook and put entire group iPhone messages on Do Not Disturb mode, by the way.) Since staying up to date on the latest news and trends in the wellness space is a major part of my job, not checking Instagram for hours at a time is not exactly possible for me. That being said, I can easily cut down on my scroll time by ensuring that all the accounts I am following on social media are actually ones I need to be looking at and not random people from high school I haven’t seen in several years. The best part of muting is that you don’t actually have to unfollow the person, so you can always check their profile if you wish, but you won’t spend precious moments in your day watching something you just really don’t care about that much. Trust me. You’re not missing much.
I’m always looking for more ways to practice digital wellness during my everyday routine. What are some of your go-to practices and tools? Let's discuss in our secret Facebook Group.
Next up: how to detox from social media without quitting cold turkey.