THE average person checks their phone 200 times a day – that’s once every six and a half minutes. 73% of Brits say they’d struggle to go a day without checking their phone or computer. One in four people spend more time online than they do asleep. 70% of 16-24-year-olds say they prefer texting to talking and the average teenager sends 3,400 electronic messages a month from their bed! Sound familiar? But experts are warning that we are spending too much time on smartphones and other electronic devices and it is negatively impact our mental health, work and our relationships leading to problems such as poor sleep, social isolation, stress, attention deficient, and even a warped sense of reality. There’s no denying the benefits we have gained from technological advancements, but as with all things in life moderation is key, so maybe its time we asked the question…could you benefit from a digital detox? Julie Duffy, a health & wellbeing consultant at Health@Work, who teaches the benefits of digital detoxing decided she would practice what she preaches and decided to do a two week digital detox during her annual holiday leave to see if improved her mental and physical wellbeing. Yes you read that right…two weeks! Julie is big social media fan, she has personal Facebook & Twitter accounts , and also runs Health@Work’s social media accounts, even her Bichon Frise Billie has her own Twitter account! “As much as I love feeling connected and sharing information with people, what I have become aware of is that I feel an unhealthy sense of urgency to check emails, reply to texts, tweets, etc. It weighs on my mind and I feel anxious that I might miss something important or people will think Im not on the ball. But the minute I switched off all of the devices for this digital detox, the sense of relief I felt instantly was enormous! “Staying off Facebook and Twitter for 2 whole weeks made me realise just how much time I spend either doing it or thinking about it. I really enjoyed switching off and spent more time with my family. I read much more. I was more engaged in conversations. I also noticed there was a lot more laughter at home. I just felt much more relaxed and refreshed.” Since doing the digital detox Julie has now made some changes to her smartphone & social media habits such as not checking her phone when she is in the company of others but trying to be more present with people. and putting the on ‘do not disturb’ at least 1 hour before bed and switching her phone to ‘night time mode’ from 7pm – this alters the screen so that it emits a warm glow rather than the harsh blue light that can affect sleep patterns Julie adds: “The digital detox has really helped me and I would highly recommend it for anyone struggling to sleep or suffering with stress or anxiety, even just for a couple of days” There is lots of evidence that supports the positive effects of doing a digital detox, from increased creativity, improved sleep to improved decision making and better relationships with others. Are you brave enough to try it? Tips to start – (and finish) – the task 1.Set a start and finish date and time. Ease yourself in by starting with a couple of hours or 1 day, choosing a day you feel you could get by without your devices, perhaps a weekends or day when you are off work. Try not to overwhelm yourself with unattainable targets 2. Tell everyone what you’re doing The more people you tell about your digital detox, the more people will be watching you – and the less you will want to fail. Make friends and family aware of your digital detox days and offer (with permission) a friend or partners number to those close to you in case of emergency. 3. Find a detox buddy Things are always easier when you team up with someone so why not pair up with a ‘detox buddy’? With this support, you can discuss your progress, encourage each other to keep going and spend time together face-to-face rather than messaging through a screen. A detox buddy will keep you going! 4. Store gadgets away from view It can be very tempting to give in to those establishing habit of picking up you phoning and checking it. Turn off all devices and keep them out of sight. 5. Plan your time It’s important we fill this void with other things that nourish us. Make a list of all the things you would like to do to occupy yourself during your digital detox. Maybe read a book, exercise, visit friends, play with your children. 6. Buy an alarm clock If you use your phone to wake you up in the morning, make sure you get a replacement if you need to be up for work! Best of luck!