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Here’s How A Digital Detox Will Benefit Your Mental Health.

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Overusing technology can be bad for your mental health. Here’s how to know if it’s time to take a break.

We go about our day-to-day lives attached to our phones. They wake us up in the morning, and we check our emails and social media as soon as we open our eyes. We spend a big chunk of the day glued to a screen, a computer, laptop or phone. Nearly half of smartphone users in the US say they can’t imagine life without their phones.

According to a February 2021 survey, 46% of respondents said they spend an average of 5 to 6 hours a day on their phones for non-work-related use. Another study conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that, on average, Americans spend around 3 hours a day watching TV.

It’s safe to say that we’ve become heavily dependent on our phones for pretty much everything. But, how is the use of technology affecting our mental health? And what can we do to offset that dependency?

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Many have turned to digital detoxes as a way to disconnect from technology. Research links digital detoxes to improving depression symptoms, among other mental health benefits. Ready to try a digital detox? Here’s what you need to know.

What is a digital detox?

A digital detox is when you abstain entirely or intentionally reduce your time using electronic devices like smartphones, computers, TVs and tablets. The idea of a digital detox is to disconnect from the online world to focus more on the present moment without distractions. The most common things people avoid during a digital detox include:

  • Emails
  • Text messages
  • Video games
  • Watching TV
  • Smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers

What is a social media detox?

Like a digital detox, a social media detox is when someone refrains from engaging with or using social media for some time or indefinitely to improve their mental health and well-being. It’s one of the most popular forms of digital detox.

A quantitative study conducted on college students who underwent social media detoxes that lasted from one to seven days found that most students reported positive changes in mood, better productivity, improved sleep and reduced anxiety.

Another study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that limiting social media to 30 minutes a day can significantly improve one’s overall well-being.

How social media affects mental health

There’s no denying we benefit a lot from social media. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok keep us connected to friends and family while also serving as an outlet to find inspiring people. However, the constant comparison, fear of missing out and highly curated content we’re exposed to on social media can come with some drawbacks.

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A 2020 systematic review linked social media to detrimental effects on the mental health of its users. The same study found that those people’s levels of anxiety and depression are affected by social media envy — being envious of someone else’s life as perceived on social media.

“Time spent scrolling through social media has the potential to promote unreasonable expectations as we see influencers posting an often filtered and edited version of their seemingly perfect lives. This can trigger feelings that others are having more fun or living better lives than you are, potentially hurting your mental health. The increasing popularity of photo filters has also been linked to poor self-esteem and self-image as we manipulate photos to change our reality online,” says Myra Altman. She holds a PhD and is VP of Clinical Care at Modern Health.

Benefits of a digital detox

There may be personal reasons to consider a digital detox. It could be that you feel like technology is a distraction, or you need some time away from the stressors of the online world. Whatever the reason may be, you will see many benefits from taking a break from technology.

Here are some of the most common benefits of a digital detox.

Reduced anxiety and depression

According to a recent study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, a social media break of just a week can reduce anxiety and depression. The same survey found causal evidence that even a short hiatus from social media can positively impact a person’s overall well-being, life satisfaction and emotions.

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Enhanced focus and increased productivity

This one should come as no surprise. When we are free from distractions, we allow ourselves to be more present. Mindless scrolling on social media, checking notifications on your phone and feeling the urge to reply immediately to emails are time consumers. When we set aside distractions, we allow more time to focus on our responsibilities.

Improved sleep

Disconnecting from electronic devices a few hours before going to sleep can significantly improve our sleep quality. One study found that people who used social media before bed were more likely to have anxiety, insomnia and short sleep duration on weeknights.

Avoiding screen time before bed also reduces our exposure to blue light, which is associated with disrupted sleep.

Meaningful connections in real life

Think about the last time you were anywhere alone at the doctor’s office, standing in line at the grocery store or waiting for your friend at a table in a restaurant. How much of that time was spent glued to your phone? The answer is probably a lot.

A small 2019 study found that smartphones alter the fabric of social interactions. In the experiment, a group of strangers was put in a waiting room with or without their phones. The study found that those who had their phones present were less likely to smile at someone than those without a phone.

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Setting your phone aside can help you stay engaged with those around you.

More time for things that bring you joy

Have you ever thought about how many times a day you pick up your phone to check your emails, respond to messages and check social media? According to a survey conducted by Asurion, a global tech care company, respondents checked their phones on average 96 times a day. To put that in perspective, that’s once every 10 minutes.

“One reason to consider a social media detox is to regain authority in your life and time. Many people find themselves scrolling for hours a day and then feel unproductive, leading to anxiety and depression. A detox can help pause social media consumption and allow you to regain interest in other hobbies that bring happiness. The detox can also allow you the time you need to be with those you love in real life,” says Raghu Kiran Appasani, MD Psychiatry and Founder and CEO of The MINDS Foundation.

Signs that you might need a break from technology

If you made your way to this page, you are already considering a digital detox — which is a sign that you might need a break from your electronic devices. The best way to know you need a digital detox is to check in with yourself and see how interacting with social media and technology makes you feel.

If you feel any of the following when engaging with the online world, it’s time to say goodbye (for now) to technology:

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  • Anxiety, stress or depression after checking social media
  • Social withdrawal
  • Urge to check your phone every few minutes
  • Trouble concentrating and staying focused on the task at hand
  • Imposter syndrome or feeling insecure about where you are in life
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Feeling obligated to respond immediately to emails and text messages
  • How to do a digital detox

We got you if you’re ready for a digital detox challenge but aren’t sure where to start. It’s important to remember why you’re detoxing from your digital devices in the first place. The goal is to create boundaries that ensure you’re using technology in a way that benefits and works for you. Ultimately, you want to feel good about the time you are dedicating online.

Set realistic goals

A digital detox can be anything you want it to be. It can be refraining from using any technology, disconnecting from social media or just limiting daily screen time. The most important thing to keep in mind is that whatever you want to achieve has to be realistic. For example, if your work requires you to be in front of a computer all day, it may not be wise to set a goal that won’t allow you access to your computer. Instead, you can opt to set screen time limits on your free time.

Create healthy boundaries and limits

Sometimes disconnecting completely from electronic devices isn’t possible, but setting boundaries is a great way to limit how much time we spend on electronic devices.

Here are some ideas of other times you can create limits for:

  • When working out: If you want to get the most out of your workout, avoid any distractions. If you like to listen to music while doing so, you can download your music beforehand and set your phone to aeroplane mode so that you don’t get any notifications.
  • Before going to sleep: Smartphones were designed to keep us alert and productive, so the last thing we want is to bombard our brains with more information. Sleep experts recommend cutting off-screen time 30 minutes to 1 hour before bed.
  • When waking up: You never know what you will encounter when you look at your phone; seeing terrible news as soon as you wake up can trigger your stress response and leave you feeling anxious all day. Allow yourself some time to wake up without outside distractions and enjoy the present moment.
  • While enjoying a meal: If you’re scrolling through your phone while you eat, you may not know how much you are eating and miss your body’s cue that it is complete. Instead, you can practice mindful eating and savour every moment of your meal.

When spending time with the people you love: It’s good to keep your phone away or silent when socializing and spending time with people. When you limit your distractions, you can have more profound and meaningful conversations.

Occupy yourself with things that nourish your mind and body

You’ve decided to do a digital detox, you put away your phone, now what? It’s easy to give in to checking your phone if you are bored, so you’ll want to fill in this extra time with things that make you feel good.

If you are having difficulty figuring out what to do with your extra time, here are some ideas.

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Pick up a new hobby, something you’ve always wanted to try.

  • Go for a walk or a hike.
  • Call a family member you haven’t talked to in a while
  • Go for coffee with a friend
  • Read a new book (or reread your favourite one)
  • Journal about how you’re feeling right now
  • Volunteer at a local charity that is doing important work
  • Learn to cook a new recipe
  • Sign up for an exercise class like kick-boxing, yoga or pilates
  • Meditate or practise mindful breathing

Reward yourself for following through

It’s easier to stay motivated when looking forward to something, so take this opportunity to celebrate your wins by rewarding yourself. It doesn’t have to be grand (though it can be if you want); it can be as simple as cooking your favourite meal or taking yourself out to the movies. Whatever you decide your reward should be, make sure it’s something that excites you.

Tips for your digital detox

Some people will find it relatively easy to disconnect from digital devices, while others may find it more challenging. Luckily, there are some things you can do before you go off the grid to ensure that you have a successful digital detox.

If you’re doing a social media detox, delete the apps from your phone and sign out from your account on your computer, laptop or tablet.

Let your friends and family know about your detox and the best ways for them to contact you and provide support.

Schedule activities to keep you busy beforehand.

Track your progress. You can write down how you’re feeling each day, seeing tangible progress may keep you motivated.

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  • Mute or turn off notifications on your phone and computer
  • Designate tech-free zones in your house, like your bedroom or dining room.

Remember why you started. If you feel the need to check your phone throughout your detox, think of how you felt before starting and why you decided to take a break.

Be patient with yourself.

Deciding to disconnect from the digital world can make you feel anxious or even scared of missing out on essential things, and it’s okay to feel that way. As the days go by, you’ll feel better about yourself and have a deeper understanding of your relationship with technology. Take the time to enjoy being present and do things that bring you happiness.

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Business

How people power drives climate-friendly business.

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Before, price and manufacturer could have been king when it came to consumer decisions. But spurred by the effects of weather modification, New Zealanders increasingly want to support climate-friendly corporations that are thinking sustainably and performing their bit to donate to a minimal carbon economy and Aotearoa New Zealand.

The study highlights this shift in thinking. Based on EECA’s (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) regular Consumer Monitor, 82 percent of New Zealanders want corporations to complete more to lessen their environmental impact. And while EECA’s Business Monitor says only 24 percent of corporations think their customers or companies are stimulating them to achieve more, the proven fact that acting on weather modification can provide an aggressive benefit does seem to be gaining ground. This isn’t precisely about the giant corporations, either. New Zealanders want SMEs to be sustainable corporations as well.

Help the planet by choosing businesses with sustainable packaging or bringing your own containers.

Auckland early childhood educator and mother-of-three Dorothy Lacey spends lots of time – and income – shopping on the internet for her family and adding items to her childcare center. As the effects of weather modification have increased, she has discovered himself wanting to see corporations prioritize their footprint.

“Oh, for certain, I look up a business and observe green it is before I get any such thing from them,” she says. “If they’re carbon-neutral or use compostable presentation or perhaps overall have a commitment to increasing things when it comes to the environment, they get my money. It starts to have quite simple to inform which are the great kinds and you then only begin encouraging them and don’t work with the others.”

The ability these customers hold is twofold. Firstly, they inspire buddies and family to follow their case by getting more carbon-conscious when it comes to purchases – EECA’s research indicates that force from buddies and family includes a better effect than a societal strain on the number of weather actions people take.

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Citizen Collective beer and bread.

As it pertains to corporations themselves, some do note that lowering energy use and taking a more climate-friendly approach is an intelligent organization’s decision future-proofing them from shifting consumer preferences.

Person Combined is one organization in front of the curve. The Auckland-based opportunity takes unsold supermarket bread and converts it into beer, and then uses the mash from the beer-brewing process to change it into bread.

“After the brew, we were left with this beautiful solution, and we decided there must be a method to use it,” says Add Founder, Person co-founder.

“We’re using less water, land, and energy to cultivate, harvest and dry the barley — that is very intense from a power perception — resulting in fewer emissions.

Customers can encourage businesses to be more climate friendly.

“We’ve also got some great opinions for the very reassuring beer,” says Shepherd. “We reckon we’re performing something worthwhile, but the products have to be excellent to work.”

New Zealanders can also straight inspire corporations to produce improvements to help minimize their energy use and carbon emissions. You will find a range of easy measures we could all follow to encourage corporations to go to the talk.

Taking a more climate-friendly approach is a smart business decision.

Use your effect

Showing the others what you’re performing differently in your living to support climate-friendly corporations is among the main things you can do – so ensure you reveal your finds and ideas, and chat, article and share. Given the energy of recommendations for weather action, we’re all influencers! Keep in mind this is focused on development and not excellence, and its key corporations’ sense is reinforced in (authentically) speaking about the measures they’re taking.

Election along with your budget

Where we invest, our income is the best way to exhibit consumer power. Once a business sees income and manufacturer commitment to being climate-friendly, the others can follow suit. Furthermore, a company not succeeding on an environmentally-friendly top might be incentivized to complete better.

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Customers can vote with their wallet and choose climate friendly businesses.

Knowledge is (green) power.

Be interested and stay educated about energy, emissions, and weather change.

Use the practical Manual to the Language of Environment Change on GenLess.govt.NZ to discover or ensure what the words and words about weather modification mean. It will help with speaking confidently about the difficulties with others.

Ask questions

Wondering to visit a business’s sustainability strategy or asking what they’re performing to lower their environmental influence can go a lengthy way. Only a few customers asking could be the impetus a business needs to begin with on the journey. Clients can see if a company has environmental accreditation, like the people offered by B Corp or Toitū Envirocare.

“I’ll inform my buddies and workmates about a business I came across that’s excellent green credentials,” says Lacey. “Frequently, they will be smaller operators and have been encouraged to me, so I then go and pass that info along to someone else.”

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Health

What is Open Enrollment for Health Insurance?

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Health insurance is essential no matter what stage of your life. There are some exceptions to this rule, but most insurance policies require that you stay with the plan for an entire year. You can change your coverage and enroll in a new program during the annual open enrollment period. This is everything you need about open enrollment for your health insurance.

What is Open Enrollment?

Open enrollment is when you have the opportunity to change or select your health insurance plan. The timing of registration will vary depending on which method you are enrolling in,” said Anand Shukla (senior vice president, individual markets, Aetna), a CVS Health company.

The Medicare annual enrollment period, for instance, runs from October 15 to December 7. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), Marketplace/Exchange open enrollment period starts on November 1.

“If your employer offers health insurance, you may be eligible for an annual enrollment period. During this time, you can sign up or modify your coverage. Shukla says that it is essential to verify these dates with your employer.

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How to Maximize Open Entry Periods

Open enrollment can be accessed in many ways. First, find out when you are eligible. Koleen Cavanaugh (Vice President of Marketing at Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia) says that your open enrollment period will depend on where and how you buy insurance.

Next, assess your lifestyle and Health. Kyu Rhee M.D. is Aetna’s senior vice president, chief medical officer, and chief medical officer. To help you do this, Kyu Rhee recommends asking the following questions:

  • Are you currently seeing a primary care doctor, or do you see any other medical specialists?
  • Which medications are you taking?
  • What diagnostic tests such as imaging or blood tests do you require?
  • Are you due to receive critical preventive screenings such as vaccinations or cancer screenings?
  • Do you have multiple chronic conditions?
  • Are you planning any procedures or surgeries?

After you have narrowed down what you want, you can start looking at coverage options. Dylan H. Roby, Associate Professor of Health, Society and Behavior, University of California, Irvine’s Program in Public Health, suggests that you look for a plan that suits your needs for the next year, both in terms of monthly premiums in terms of your health needs.

You can also talk to a trusted broker or licensed advisor in your locality to learn more about the available plans. Shukla says that many insurers offer seminars in their local communities, which provide information on programs and allow you to ask questions.

When choosing a plan, consider the four Ds: doctors, drugs, diagnostics, and deductibles. Dr. Rhee says that you should ensure your doctors are connected, that your medications are covered, and that critical diagnostic tests such as blood tests and imaging can be accessed. Also, make sure your deductible is affordable.

He also suggests that you consider hearing, vision, and dental coverage. It is ideal to have telehealth visits or virtual care included in your health plan. He says that your health plan is your ticket for staying and getting well.

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Open Enrollment Management for Different Types of Health Insurance

Roby recommends that you consider more than just the premiums when viewing the details of any health insurance plan. He says that deductibles and copayments are significant, including coinsurance, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket limits.

These are additional tips for maximizing your open enrollment period based on your insurance plan.

ACA

The Advance Premium Tax Credit (APTC) is available to anyone who decides on an ACA Marketplace plan. Open enrollment starts on November 1. Shukla says that APTC can be a significant reduction in the premium you pay for insurance coverage, depending on your household income.

Roby adds that reviewing your options at each open enrollment period is wise as the tax credits or subsidies you have may be affected by changes in your local health insurance plans and policies.

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Nearly 90% of the consumers who used HealthCare.gov to get their health insurance received the APTC during the 2021 open enrollment period. The average APTC amount for eligible recipients was 85% of their premiums during the 2020 and 2021 available enrollment periods.

Medicare

According to Carrie Jardine (a revenue cycle manager at Heading Health in Austin), Medicare health insurance’s initial open enrollment period covers seven months. Heading Health is a mental health clinic. It starts three months before your eligibility for Medicare, generally when you turn 65. It continues until your birthday month and ends three months later.

However, the Medicare annual enrollment period runs from October 15 to December 7. Jardine says that you can either stay on the standard Medicare plan or choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan through one of many commercial payers.

Employer-sponsored insurance

Jardine explains that if you get health insurance through your employer, the initial open enrollment period is when you are eligible to enroll with the employer’s insurance carrier. This is usually determined at the discretion of the employer.

An annual open enrollment period may be offered by your employer, in which employees can choose another plan. However, this is not an obligation for all companies.

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Roby says it might be good to join a low-cost, high-deductible plan, significantly if your employer contributes money to your health savings account.

What if I want to make changes outside of open enrollment?

You can’t make any changes to your coverage options after the open enrollment period. This is only possible if you are eligible for a particular enrollment period due to a qualifying life event such as a birth, marriage or adoption, loss of coverage or change of residence, income change, or becoming a U.S citizen. You may be able to enroll in a new plan within 60 days or 60 days, depending on your circumstances.

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For better mental health, add these food items to your diet.

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It could be due to many factors. Scientists have identified the gut-brain connection as one explanation. Neurotransmitters are what link the brain to the gastrointestinal system.

Healthy eating is one of the best things you can do for your health. A healthy diet is good for our bodies and minds. Studies show that a healthy diet high in vitamins, minerals, and protein can improve our mental and physical health.

Sutter Health states that a healthy diet can improve our moods and help us feel happier. However, eating a lot of sugar and processed foods can cause mental problems and worsen depression and anxiety. It could be due to many factors. Scientists have identified the gut-brain connection as one explanation. Neurotransmitters are what link the brain to the gastrointestinal system. Additionally, gut microbes produce critical mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric, and gamma-aminobutyric acids, which help manage anxiety, fear, depression, and other emotions.

Bad diets can cause inflammation and negatively affect our emotions. Gut-friendly foods high in fiber, healthy fats, and probiotics can make you feel happier mentally.

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Mental health is directly affected by diet.

Our attention and energy levels are also affected by diet. The brain must receive a steady supply of nutrients to function correctly. If the brain does not have certain nutrients, it can cause mental problems. Depressed people tend to prefer quick and easy meals to make healthy meals. This can lead to a vicious circle.

Sutter Health says that processed foods, which are often high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, may provide a temporary boost of dopamine but can lead to long-term inflammation, leading to anxiety and depression. The rush can be followed by a crash, which can cause increased sugar cravings and create a vicious circle of addiction.

Caffeine is another factor that can affect your mood. Too much coffee can be dangerous for your health. Although this popular stimulant is well-known for its energy-boosting properties, it can also cause anxiety symptoms like restlessness, nervousness, and stomach problems. It’s not only what you eat but also how often you eat. A drop in blood sugar can lead to irritation, fatigue, and depression.

Feeling better? Protein, complex carbs, and fatty acids can all help.

Sutter Health states that the brain needs a healthy mix of lean proteins and complex carbs to be more efficient. Lean protein is found in chicken, eggs, legumes, and nuts. It also contains an essential amino acid that the brain requires to regulate emotions. Mainly Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for nerve cell structure and brain health. A diet low in Omega-3 fatty acids can harm brain functions such as learning, cognition, memory, sleep, and aging. Fish, flaxseed, and walnuts are rich in healthy fatty acids.

Complex carbohydrates are suitable for the brain, but they can also be harmful to the stomach. Complex carbohydrates are rich in fiber and minerals. They include whole grains, brown rice, starchy vegetables, and whole grains. They are also more slowly digested, keeping blood sugar levels in control and providing uninterrupted energy throughout the day.

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Try an apple or handful of walnuts instead of reaching for chocolates and chips when you feel down. You will see a difference in your brain and body. Remember that sadness is a normal part of mental health. Even renowned chefs have expressed their feelings.

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