Digital Detox: How Unplugging Can Improve Your Health and Well-being

How to Digital Detox | Expat Insurance
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From checking early morning emails to late-night social media browsing, digital devices have become an integral part of our everyday life. They help us stay connected, enhance our productivity at work, and offer an endless source of entertainment during leisure time. Yet, despite the many conveniences they bring, excessive use of these devices can take a toll on our health and well-being.

The impact of screen time on health

From the physical strain our bodies endure through hours of screen exposure to the mental fatigue accumulated from the relentless digital consumption, the cost of our digital lifestyle can be high. According to ActiveSG Circle, key areas of concern include:

  • Eye strain: Prolonged exposure to digital screens can cause significant strain on our eyes, potentially leading to conditions such as dryness, retina damage, and even blurred vision.
  • Physical discomfort: Simultaneously, habitual poor posture when using these devices can result in discomfort and stiffness in the neck and shoulders.
  • Sleep disruption: The blue light radiated by our screens can disrupt our body’s natural sleep hormone, melatonin. This disruption is especially noticeable when we use our devices just before sleep, making falling into a restful slumber more challenging.
  • Potential for obesity: The passive nature of screen time often replaces more active pursuits, resulting in less physical activity and potential weight gain. 
  • Increased risk of chronic diseases: Coupled with obesity, excessive screen time can make us more susceptible to chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

It’s clear that while our devices have become almost indispensable, managing how we use them has become equally critical. Fortunately, your medical insurance can cover many of these health issues should they arise. Coverage like GP & Specialist (Outpatient) Insurance in Singapore can help manage and reduce the risk of health problems linked to digital overuse. That being said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The science and benefits of digital detox

A digital detox is a planned period where individuals voluntarily refrain from using digital devices, such as smartphones and laptops, to reduce the negative impacts of digital overuse on their physical and mental well-being.

The term “detox” is borrowed from the process usually associated with withdrawing and abstaining from harmful substances. In the context of a digital detox, the aim is to withdraw and refrain from the overuse of digital devices. Let’s delve into what transpires in your brain and body during this period.

The brain and a digital detox

When you detox from digital devices, your brain starts to adjust to the new pattern of stimuli (or lack thereof). Here are some of the benefits:

  • Reclaimed focus and concentration: In the absence of non-stop notifications and the compulsion to multitask across devices, your brain can relearn to focus on one task at a time. This may significantly improve your attention span and cognitive abilities.
  • Stress reduction: With the relentless flow of digital information, your brain constantly operates on high alert, contributing to heightened stress levels. By choosing to unplug, your brain gets the chance to slow down, consequently leading to stress reduction.
  • Improved sleep patterns: The use of electronic devices, particularly before bed, can interfere with your brain’s production of melatonin, disrupting your sleep cycle. During a digital detox, this function can normalise, leading to better sleep quality and duration.

The body and a digital detox

While a digital detox can cause substantial changes in the brain, the impact on the physical body is equally significant. Here’s what happens when you go on a digital detox:

  • Less eye strain: Staring at screens for long periods may lead to digital eye strain, characterised by dryness, blurred vision, and fatigue. A digital detox provides your eyes with the much-needed respite, reducing eye strain and preventing the progression of these symptoms.
  • Alleviation of repetitive strain injuries: Overuse of devices may lead to physical conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome or “text neck.” A break from these activities allows your body to recover and heal.
  • Increased physical activity: With more free time, you can then engage in physical activity. This not only helps combat the sedentary lifestyle often associated with excessive screen time but also improves your overall physical health.

Going deeper: How to do a digital detox

If you’re interested in reaping the benefits of unplugging and embarking on a digital detox, here are some steps to help you get started:

1. Define your goals

Before diving into a digital detox, identify what you hope to accomplish. Are you aiming for better sleep? A calmer mind? More hours in the day? Defining your goals provides a purpose and direction for the detox process, making it easier to stay committed to the change.

2. Engage in more physical activities

Incorporating physical activities into your routine not only boosts your overall health but also provides a healthy alternative to screen time. Opt for an early morning jog to start your day or a yoga session to unwind. 

If a structured workout seems daunting, taking regular stretch breaks can be a beneficial alternative. For instance, stretch your arms above your head, twist gently from side to side, or touch your toes. These movements can be done in just a few minutes, making them easy to fit into your work schedule.

3. Mute notifications

The ping of notifications acts as a continuous call back to our screens. Reduce this digital distraction by muting non-essential notifications and setting designated times to check your devices. Remember, the goal is not to cut off completely but to create a more balanced relationship with technology.

4. Designate tech-free zones