Digital detox expert Tanya Goodin gives her advice on taking up a digital detox challenge and the benefits of stepping away from the screen

“We now spend an average of 8 hours 45 minutes on screens each day with a fifth spent on ‘media multi-tasking’: doing more than one digital activity simultaneously,” says Tanya Goodin, entrepreneur and founder of digital detox initiative Time To Log Off. “And, while few of us would disagree that technology has made our lives a lot easier, our obsession with our devices can have serious impacts on our happiness, relationships, mental and physical health.

“Research has shown links between heavy internet and social media use and mental health problems. Frequent users are five times more likely to suffer from depression than non-frequent users, while technology is also having a negative effect on our concentration and attention spans – did you know that the human attention span is now lower than that of a goldfish?

So, what can you do to become more mindful of your screen usage? A great way is to take on a digital detox challenge for a month, gradually replacing negative habits with more positive behaviour. Here are five reasons why a digital detox is worth a try…

1. You’ll improve your relationships

“‘Phubbing’ or ‘phone snubbing’ is ignoring the person you’re with in favour of your phone. Our attachment to our phones can be damaging to our relationships. So, try phone-stacking when you’re on a night out – put your phones in a pile and whoever picks theirs up first buys the next round. When you’re home, leave your phone in the other room when you’re eating dinner.”

2. You’ll look fresher-faced

“New evidence has suggested that our screens could be damaging our skin – the high energy visible (HEV) light emitted from phone and computer screens can accelerate skin ageing, plus the way we hold and view our smartphones has been said to cause ‘tech neck’ wrinkles. Cutting down your screen time will reduce symptoms of digital eyestrain, neck and back pain and headaches.”

3. You’ll be more efficient at work

“Research has shown that multi-tasking is a myth. We’re told that juggling multiple tasks (and screens) makes us more efficient, yet it is suggested that this process is actually damaging our brains and reducing our productivity. Start by leaving your phone in your work drawer when you go out to grab your lunch and turning off push notifications.”

4. You’ll be less anxious

“The term ‘nomophobia’ has been coined to describe the fear of being without your phone. Taking on a digital detox and replacing mindless scrolling with positive activities will help you feel less tied to your screen and more likely to notice what’s around you. Switch watching TV with family for a board game – evidence has shown that playing games like Monopoly or chess can help to prevent cognitive decline and reduce the risk of dementia.”

5. You’ll get more ZZZs

“95% of us admit to using some type of screen in the hour leading up to bed, and while the blue light emitted from our phones keeps us feeling alert (which is great during the day), it’s not good for your sleep. For good quality slumber, create boundaries around your phone use, such as not using it after 10pm or making your bedroom a phone-free space. During the first few days of your digital detox, try using an old-fashioned alarm clock that you can’t constantly press snooze on. This will help you feel more alert and refreshed each morning.”

Carry on the good work…

“Trying a digital detox challenge like this will make you feel happier and healthier, even after a month. To continue being more mindful about your digital usage, try a 5:2 digital diet – this means taking on a digital detox for two days a week, usually over the weekend. Adopting this will help you to keep up your new healthy habits.”

Feel like swapping the screen for a relaxing walk? Read our 7 most stunning walking trails in the UK.

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