7-Day Healthy Challenge: Digital Detox

2020 was a challenging year – personally and collectively – and so here at the CCNM Integrative Cancer Centre, we look forward to the fresh start 2021 brings. We are hopeful that this new calendar year brings an end to the pandemic and new beginnings for our health – individually and as a whole. 

A new year is a perfect opportunity to re-commit to health goals, and this new year in particular provides us with an expanded perspective on the importance of daily healthy habits that can impact our health in a significant way. So, keeping this in mind, we would like to offer 4 weekly challenges in January. Every Wednesday this month, we will post a blog challenge, that encourages a small, attainable, healthy habit. This may be a habit familiar or new to you, one that slipped away in 2020, or one that opens a new avenue of health.

Be sure to visit our blog every Wednesday in January for a full description of the next challenge.

Week 1 – Digital Detox

Reflecting on 2020, it is likely we all have increased our screen time – between smartphones, computers, tablets, TV and social media platforms, we are spending a record amount of time with digital devices. Of course these devices offer an opportunity to connect with others when we can’t in person, but the research also shows that these technologies can contribute to stress. 

There are many reasons why you might want to give up your mobile phone and other devices for a brief period of time. You might want to enjoy time to yourself without the interference that your phone and other devices create. In other cases, you might feel like your device use has become excessive and is adding too much stress to your life. For many, it is the ever-present digital connection and constant need to continually check emails, texts, and social media that can account for the majority of this tech stress. Others might report that they are addicted to their devices and this can lead to real physical, psychological, and social problems, notably sleep disruption.

The idea of digital detoxification gained popularity in 2020 and it is simply reducing, avoiding or creating boundaries around the use of any and all screens. This type of detox does not have to mean complete abstinence from all of your devices, as it important to make your device usage work for your own life and demands. This process is more about setting boundaries and making sure that you are using your devices in a way that benefit, rather than harm, your emotional and physical health.

What we recommend is trying one of the following:

  • Digital Fasting: Try giving up all digital devices for a short period of time, such as a day, weekend or even longer. During this fast, you would completely avoid all devices and screens. This will offer you time for self-reflection to look inwards, as well as time to work on hobbies or activities you love. 
  • Mini-Detox: If you need your devices during the day for your job, or can’t complete a digital fast, try doing a mini-detox each day, like at the end of the workday, for example. Pick a time when you want to turn off your devices (e.g. from 5-8pm, or from 7pm to the next morning) and then focus on spending that time free of things like social media, texting, online videos, and other electronic distractions.
  • Specific Detox: If one app, site, game, or digital tool is taking up too much of your time, focus on restricting your use of that problematic item. It may be applicable to turn off any notifications specific to that phone/app/site/game etc. so that you are not alerted every single time you get a message, mention, or new post. For this type of detox, you would set aside a specific time each day to use that more problematic device/tool, and this is when you can check/respond to your messages or mentions or watch videos etc.

Here are some quick tips to help with this type of detox:

  • Enroll you friends and family – let them know you are on a digital detox and ask for their help and support
  • Find ways to stay distracted and keep other activities on hand
  • Try getting out of the house; go outside for a walk when you are tempted to use your device
  • Keep a journal to track your progress and write down your thoughts about the experience

From the CCNM Integrative Cancer Centre, we wish you a happy and healthy 2021 and if you feel that you need extra support on reaching your health goals, our team is here for you – we remain open for new and return patient visits, utilizing virtual (phone or secure video) care.