• Next to Nature

Digital Detox

Updated: May 23

This topic is something that has been on our minds since the beginning of the year! Over the holidays Jamie and her team, whether it was intentional or not seemed to have unplugged and "went off the grid" for a little while. We aren't going to lie, it was GREAT! We missed all you peeps but it also got us thinking about how much we rely on our technology, especially during these times!

For many people, even the most anti-technology, screen-conscious of us have had to rely heavily on computers, tablets, iPhones, and other devices—not just for basic needs like ordering groceries and supplies and connecting with loved ones, but for attending school, running businesses/doing our jobs, and even celebrating holidays. Just how much more time are we spending in front of our devices? Research shows that children are spending over 6 hours a day on a screen which has increased a whopping 500%! While average adults screen time has jumped from 4 hours a day pre-pandemic to 6+ hours a day (and much more for those of us working/tutoring children from home), according to a recent survey conducted by One Poll. Not to mention, people are reporting a number of unpleasant physical, mental, and emotional side effects due to these astronomical increases.

This is why we wanted to bring a different type of detox to light: a digital detox to be exact, in which we take simple steps to cut down our individual and collective screen time to a more normal, healthy, and functional level...and we invite you to join us! Now, if the idea of a digital detox makes you either super uncomfortable or totally excited, both reactions are completely normal...and really good indicators that you in fact, need this. But, how do we honestly commit to cutting back on screen time when it’s become such an essential part of our lives? Just like we would with a detox cleanse, we make it doable by breaking it up into small and manageable pieces.

Commit first to your why

What is the main factor that motivates any of us to make big changes? It’s inspiration that comes from education, experience, and empowerment. For the purposes of this endeavor, let’s get inspired by exploring some of the health benefits of spending less time on our devices:

  • Reduced EMF (electromagnetic field) exposure - EMF exposure has been connected to an increased risk of certain types of cancer, genetic damage, nervous system damage, oxidative stress, and infertility.

  • Healthier vision - Excessive screen time has been linked to a variety of eye health ailments including an increased risk of macular degeneration in adults and myopia in children and digital eye strain in adults.

  • Reduced aches and pains - Also known as “screen aches”—over 50% of participants in the One Poll listed above reported a variety of aches and pains associated with excessive screen time.

  • Improved mental and emotional well-being for adults and children - A large body of research has linked increased screen and social media time with an increased risk of depression, suicide, and anxiety in adults and teens (especially women) and behavioral and developmental issues in children.

  • Weight-loss - Research has shown a connection between excessive screen time and an increased risk of weight gain, obesity, and insulin resistance in adults and children.

  • Improved sleep - In addition to the stimulating effects of television, gaming, etc. the blue light emitted from devices has been proven to disrupt our natural sleep cycle by suppressing secretion of melatonin (your body’s master sleep hormone), contributing to or causing issues such as insomnia.

  • Increased focus - It should come as no surprise that too much screen time has been linked to an increased risk of attention disorders. However, most of us underestimate the risk which, research has shown can be as much as double for children and youth.

  • Greater peace of mind - If we’re being honest, we all feel happier and less agitated when we spend time away from our screens. And research has shown this is extremely important to teenagers, whose happiness levels greatly increase as they decrease their time on digital devices and media.

Set realistic goals

After reading all that research you may be tempted to chuck your devices out the window (especially if you’re a parent)...and we don’t blame you! However, given that most of us are reliant on our computers, phones, etc. at least for the foreseeable future...the surest way to fail at any detox is to over-commit. We want to focus on making small changes that add up to big benefits. Here’s how this looks:

  • Taking regular screen breaks during the day, at least 5-10 minutes per hour, and go outdoors.

  • Turn off screens every night at a designated hour, say 8PM or at least 2-3 hours before bed for better sleep!

  • Make one day a week a screen-free haven: for us and our team, this is usually Sundays. You may notice were a lot quieter around here unless we have an event going on.

Buddy up with a like-minded community (Hello! That's us ;)

Any big change is made 100 times easier (and more successful) when we surround ourselves with a supportive community...so join us, won’t you? Get support, share your wins (and blunders), and join the fun on our Instagram and in the Health Hutch Facebook group (except on Sundays, of course!).

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