Checking Facebook at a red light; ignoring a convo because maybe that Bumble cutie wrote back; scrolling Insta the second you wake up – sound familiar? Internet addiction is real, and it’s taking a toll. According to Harvard Medical School scientists, using a cell phone or laptop at night upsets the body’s production of melatonin, majorly disrupting sleep. And a study in the journal Psychopathology reported that heavy internet users are five times more likely to suffer from depression than less frequent users. Plus, there’s that whole social anxiety, increased narcissism thing. So what’s the remedy? A digital detox.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO?
To really reap the benefits, you gotta go absolutely screen-free, cold turkey, for at least 24 hours (72 is best). No smartphones, tablets, laptops, or computers of any kind. Expect major withdrawals, including phantom phone syndrome – an actual phenomenon that tricks you into thinking your phone is buzzing in your pocket when in actuality it’s locked in a safe in some far off, undisclosed location that only your tough-love bestie knows about.
IS IT WORTH IT?
There are tons of benefits. For starters, it may make you smarter. Because technology is constantly vying for your attention with its ceaseless buzzing and beeping, it can be hard to bring your thoughts – and million-dollar ideas – to completion. When you give your brain a chance to assimilate information sans interruption, you become mentally sharper and more creative. A digi-detox can heighten memory as well. Memory retention relies on sensory information – the exact thing you’re blocking every time you pick up a phone and focus your attention on photo filters instead of on, ya know, life. You’re also likely to sleep better when you aren’t at the mercy of those pesky push notifications. That chatter causes mental burnout and make you less efficient in every area of your life: work, romance, friendships, you name it. Just a few days without technology is enough time to get recharged and able to slay whatever challenges life throws at you.
HOW WILL YOU FILL ALL THAT EXTRA TIME?
Nature is the antidote to technology-burnout, so a camping trip would be ideal, or a day trip to your favorite beach, hiking spot, or swimming hole. Literally anything that doesn’t involve a login and password: sneaking into hotel hot tubs, volunteering at a library (remember books?), writing your manifesto – you get the idea.
BUT THE FOMO ...
Totally, but have you heard of JOMO? The Joy of Missing Out is FOMO 2.0. So sit back, relax, and soak in the moment of that Caribbean sunset, or like, box of crackers in the backyard, knowing that your life is just as awesome as everyone else’s ... and that you have only 72 hours left before you can let the world know all about it.
BY REMY RAMIREZ
ILLUSTRATED BY AMANDA BERGLUND
This article originally appeared in the August/September print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
More from BUST