Digital Detox

Unplugging Offers Health Benefits
Man using a cell phone with social media icons illustrated above it.

If you’re feeling stressed and a little depressed, look in your pocket. The smartphone lurking there could be a cause.

COVID-19 & Increase of Technology Use

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought more reliance on technology to daily life. But evidence was already mounting that when it comes to technology, we have a problem.

And while tech addiction has not yet made it into the official book of psych disorders, “many experts believe that tech and device overuse represents a very real behavioral addiction that can lead to physical, psychological, and social problems,” according to educator and psychosocial rehabilitation specialist Kendra Cherry, MS.

Studies relate stress, depression, and poor sleep to substantial use of technology, Cherry said, and warns that children using digital devices at night tend to have higher body mass indexes.

Why Digital Detox?

“Taking time away from technology can significantly impact your overall health,” said Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC, a functional medicine expert and practitioner. “Research has shown that smartphones can decrease memory and increase anxiety.”

Researchers found that college students who limited their use of social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat) to ten minutes a day each for three weeks reduced their feelings of loneliness and depression compared to a group that did not limit use. Both groups, however, benefited from decreased anxiety and fear of missing out, which suggests “a benefit of increased self-monitoring,” according to the study authors.

Fasting from Electronic Devices

Begin with fasting from electronic devices, perhaps for a week. Equating being too busy with reliance on the digital realm isn’t helpful, suggests Blake Snow, author of Log Off: How to Stay Connected After Disconnecting. Tchiki Davis, who interviewed Snow for Psychology Today, tried it. “Although it feels a little scary at first, an electronics fast forces you to connect with others and with yourself, which turns out of be a pretty amazing experience.”

Create a phone-free space, suggests Dr. Cole on his website. “Set up a drop-off/charging station that you can use as soon as you walk in the door... so you won’t be tempted to check it or lured back to the screen by those seductive beeps and buzzes.”

You can create “rituals of silence,” Dr. Cole says. “Turn off the smartphone, TV, computer, and any other electronic device. Try to give yourself ‘no screen time’ breaks of at least two hours before bed to take advantage of the surprising stress-relieving qualities of smartphone-free time,” he says.

Click to See Our Sources

“5 ways to do a digital detox” by Tchiki Davis,, 1/9/18

“Declutter your life & inspire your overall wellness with these self-care tips” by Will Cole,

“No more FOMO: Limiting social media decreases loneliness and depression” by M. Hunt et al., Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 2018

Personal communication: Will Cole, 8/26/20


Nan Fornal

Nan Fornal has experience with fiction, nonfiction, and technical publications, working closely with book and magazine publishers from from first edit to final proofing. She has worked with Exeter Press, Boston magazine, and self-publishers alike.