“… and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”
Vincent van Gogh

This is a tough one due to our addictive relationship with our digital devices. Despite the fact that technology offers many benefits and makes life easier, it also comes with a less glamorous side. It affects our physical health, the quality of our relationships, mental clarity and mood. The use of  these devices stimulates the part of  the brain that is involved in reward processing which is called the dopamine response. It is the same response as in cocaine, nicotine or gambling addiction. Screens work very much like a drug and become difficult to resist the more we use them. With our smart phones and tablets right at our fingertips, nothing is stopping us from our next fix. Overuse of  lighted screens has been linked to hormonal imbalance, mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, trouble sleeping, chronic fatigue, autoimmune conditions, increased risk of obesity and poor stress regulation. Our biology was just not set up to handle the frequent use of screens. 

When we begin to create a buffer between real life and the use of our digital devices, we reap significant benefits:
  • Better stress regulation
  • Improved vision
  • More time for real connection to ourselves and others
  • Reduced radiation exposure
  • Restored circadian rhythms, especially around wake and sleep times
There are many different ways to detox from social media. We have a few suggestions for you. Pick what resonates most with you. What are you willing to take on?
• Periodic Digital Detox: Set aside parts of  your day during which you are free of  technology. For example avoid all screens for the first 30 minutes after waking. Go outside and let your eyes adjust to natural sunlight instead of the artificial blue light of your screen. There is something soothing and calming about spending the first few minutes after waking outside in nature.
• Take a Digital Detox Trip. Whether you specifically plan a get away to help you disconnect from technology (e.g. a trip to remote places ) or you use a family vacation as a means to disconnect, the point is to separate yourself  from your usual obligations which makes it easier to break the habit of checking your phone.
• Avoid all screens for the last 30 minutes before bedtime. The blue light disrupts our natural circadian rhythm. It can lead to insomnia. Read a book or practice meditation before going to dreamland.
Keep your cell phone away from your body when not in use. Practice leaving your phone at home when you are on a walk, meet a friend for lunch, or when spend time with your kids. This will help us connect with our friends, our food and ourselves with the added benefit of  decreased radiation.
• Keep your digital devices away from your bed. Even better, leave them in another room or in airplane mode, and use an old fashioned alarm clock.
• Turn off  Wi-Fi at night
• Track how much time you spend on your smartphone with apps like Screen Time for iOS, Digital Wellbeing for Android, or Moment to get an accurate assessment
Instant gratification, stress and distraction around the clock has become a normal part of our lives. Our physiology and brain are not built for this nor have they adapted to the rapid rise in technology.  So, if you struggle with insomnia, depression, anxiety or low energy, too much exposure to devices may be a major contributing factor. This challenge will help you determine how the use of technology is affecting your health.
Start with just 30 minutes to one hour buffer zone around sleep. Notice how this affects your mood and sleep.  What kind of digital detox will you choose? What difference does it make? Does it feel empowering, liberating,  make you more productive, or was it just plain old impossible? What, if  anything, did you find difficult? Was it easy or rewarding in ways that surprised you? What tools or techniques did you use to make this challenge easier?
Many questions to reflect on. Share your experiences below and sign up for our newsletter.
In vibrant health,
Dr. Elke
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