Mind

Gemma McCaw on why you should have a digital detox

Switch off and tune into the real world.

The concept of taking a digital detox is not a new one, but I firmly believe that having a break from our devices is important for our health and wellbeing.

We live in a world where constant connectedness is the norm – some estimates show that we spend the equivalent of three weeks every year on social media and checking emails. Imagine what else could be achieved in that time?!

Switching off for a while can have amazing benefits, with sleep, relationships and appreciation for life all sure to improve.

A digital detox can help you lose weight

The bright light from our phones and tablets has been linked to obesity, which might be down to their effects on sleep. It's a fact that poor sleep makes it harder to control our appetites, so cut down on tech and you might lose weight at the same time!

Pick a time that works for you

Choose a time in your week when it makes sense to switch off for a few hours. I find Sunday mornings are the perfect time to leave the phone and laptop at home and head out for a walk in the park or go to the beach. None of us wants to miss calls or texts, but the reality is there's no harm in waiting for a few hours to respond to people or catch up on social media.

Be mindful of your phone usage and screen-time

Get into the habit of asking yourself "why?" when you go to pull out your phone from your bag or pocket.

"Why am I doing this? What do I actually need to look at?"

Chances are you don't really need to check your emails or scroll through Instagram for the 50th time that day! When you're waiting for a friend at a café, leave your phone and just take in the atmosphere. If you're walking to get somewhere, how about looking around and taking in the beauty of nature?

Keep your phone out of the bedroom

Too many of us go to bed with our phones right next to us, which makes it very easy to spend our time before sleep scrolling through our messages and apps. While it might feel relaxing, the blue light emitted by smartphones and tablets reduces melatonin levels in our bodies, which can have a serious effect on sleep.

Experts suggest avoiding looking at screens for two hours before bed to ensure good quality rest. Your body will thank you for it! Invest in an old-school alarm clock so you don't need your phone to wake you up. Leaving phones out of the bedroom could also enhance relationships – a chat or a cuddle before sleep has to be better than staring at screens with our backs to each other.

Putting down your smartphone can make you happier

A recent study from Washington State University suggests that excessive smartphone use can lead to depression and anxiety. The inevitable comparisons we make when looking at social media can be deeply unhelpful, often creating feelings of inferiority.

Try to limit your time on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, and always remember that what you see online isn't necessarily indicative of real life.