Could you live without your phone? For an hour, a day or perhaps longer? If the idea fills you with dread then it’s time to take on the digital detox challenge.
Your phone connects you to the world but it also disconnects you. Too much time on your phone stops you from being able to connect with people in real life, face to face.
You know that, I know that, but still we scroll and interrupt conversations and work projects to check our latest notifications.
We go to bed late because we can’t tear ourselves away from that small screen. We miss vital parts of our favorite TV drama because we’re trying to look at two screens simultaneously.
Our eyes are feeling the strain. Our relationships feel two-dimensional and our bodies are suffering from looking down too much and not getting up and about enough.
To make sure you never miss anything, you always have your phone on. And, in addition to always staying on top of every notification, every like, every comment, you’re still trying to work, to live and to relax.
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Is there only one way to do the digital detox challenge?
There are many different ways and time periods to tackle a digital detox. Some people advocate a detox from all digital devices and screens for a specific time length.
Which is all very well but nowadays it is often a requirement of your job to keep your phone on or be connected in some way during working hours. Especially if you are working from home.
There are many different ways to do a digital detox program and the best one for you is the one that continues to help you after you have finished the challenge. Some digital challenges you could do include:
- social media detox for 7 days
- no phone for 24 hours challenge
- a month long phone detox challenge
- 24 hour digital detox challenge for your phone
- a digital detox day across all your screens (TV included!)
- 48-hour digital detox challenge
- a longer digital device challenge
- a 30 day digital detox challenge focusing on creating healthier digital habits
For me, a digital detox challenge starts with your phone. Because in truth when you spend way too much time on your phone, the TV hardly gets a look in.
So it makes sense to focus on reducing your reliance in your phone. And that’s why this 30 day digital detox challenge does not ask you to ban all phone use for 30 days.
No, this challenge is about reducing your reliance on your phone, reconnecting with family and friends via alternative methods and helping you achieve a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.
Signs you need a digital detox
Whether you are aware of them or not there are many signs that indicate you are addicted to your phone and you need to break free from it. Quite often, you don’t feel addicted. In fact you enjoy scrolling, checking notifications and using your phone.
But just because you don’t feel addicted or that your phone use is negatively impacting your life, doesn’t mean you aren’t in need of a digital detox.
Here are a few warning signs that you need a digital detox:
- Check socal media when you first wake up
- Use your phone while eating
- Check your phone constantly
- Stop whatever you are doing to check latest notifications
- Suffer from headaches, neck pain or eye fatigue
That last one is a red flag. Your physical health is being made worse because of your phone. And what about your mental health? Is that tip top? Probably not.
You know that you need a break from your phone but it’s such a huge part of your life that the idea of going cold turkey and not using it at all seems impossible.
That’s why this 30 day digital detox challenge is not about going cold turkey. Because in the end it doesn’t work.
After your no-phone time has finished you go straight back to your old ways. and before you know it you are back to square one, endlessly scrolling and feeling the strain.
Is a digital detox worth it?
Having recently completed this 30 day digital detox challenge for myself I can confirm it is totally worth it. More importantly, YOU are worth it.
The right digital detox helps to create better habits. It’s not about not using your phone at all, it’s about using it the right way so it enhances your life not take it over.
We can’t go back to the time before mobile phones so now it’s all about getting the balance right. Using your phone to improve your daily life and interactions, not causing you pain or mental worry.
Some of the benefits of digital detox are:
- Improves your sleep
- Improves mental health
- More free time
- Strengthens your relationships
- Helps you to reconnect with friends, family and even your dog!
what are the disadvantages of a digital detox?
You can always find disadvantages to a digital detox, especially if you are trying to convince yourself you shouldn’t do one. Even though you know you need it.
There are disadvantages to almost everything we do, the question you have to ask yourself is this: “are these a real disadvantage to completing a digital detox or are they a minor annoyance?”
I am sure you could find other disadvantages but here’s a few to think about:
- You feel like you are missing out on family and friend announcements (but are you really?)
- It’s hard not to share your meal out or your status for the day
- You struggle to keep up to date with breaking news
- You feel disconnected from others
- Getting back into the swing of things takes more time
- You can slide straight back into bad habits once the challenge is over
In the grand scheme of things these are not major disadvantages and you know this. Don’t use these as reasons not to complete a digital detox challenge, especially if your physical and mental health are suffering.
does a digital detox work?
Yes! Is the short answer. A well planned digital detox does work when you set yourself up for success. Challenges always work best when you plan them and know how you are going to handle the changes in your habits and life that not using your phone will inevitably bring.
You do have to be committed to your detox challenge and know before you set out how long you intend to do it for and what you hope to gain from it.
how long should you do a digital detox for?
If you were going cold turkey then aiming for anything more than 7 days is likely setting yourself up to fail. And challenges should always be about success. Not easy to achieve but not almost impossible either.
With a graduated detox like this 30 day detox challenge, you have 30 days to achieve success. Your phone isn’t banned for the whole period. It’s about learning new habits so your reliance on your phone is very much reduced. Leading to a better life balance.
what happens when you do a digital detox?
With this 30 day digital detox challenge each day there is a task to complete which reduces your reliance on your phone and encourages you to do things differently, without your phone.
In the first few days you will find yourself reaching for your phone instinctively – don’t do it! Completing each of the challenge tasks helps you see that there are alternatives to using your phone.
As you move through the days, you will use your phone less. This phone cleanse is designed to keep you in control of how much or little you use your phone.
You may find you want to ban all phone use part way through your digital detox. Go for it! Or you might find it a struggle to not jump into a little bit of scrolling time, especially if you used this as your winding down time before bed. Be aware of the temptation and try to keep it to a minimum.
Or you may find that this 30 day phone detox plan is the right amount of limited phone use to help you break a phone addiction
how to prepare to leave the digital world (albeit only for 30 days)
There are plenty of ways to do a digital challenge, but forgoing your phone for 30 days is asking for trouble. You don’t just use your phone for social media, Whatsapp and texts do you?
It’s your mini computer, your online banking apps, your weather report, your boss calling you, your Google docs and so on. To make the most of a phone detox plan it helps to plan ahead for things like online banking, your boss and so on.
Can you manage without your phone and still access your financial accounts?
Can you negotiate with your boss regarding the need for your phone to be on?
Are there things you usually do on your phone that, if needed, you could do on your laptop or a computer instead?
Let’s get stuck into this phone detox challenge!
Try The 30 day digital detox challenge
Day 1 – delete apps you don’t use
Today is all about getting rid of the excess baggage on your screen. If you don’t use an app, get rid. It’s taking up space it doesn’t need. By all means delete the apps you want to stop using frequently. If they’re not there, you can’t be tempted.
During my digital detox I deleted Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I reinstalled Facebook afterwards but not Instagram or Twitter. And I’ve saved myself scrolling time as a result.
Day 2 – use an alarm clock instead of your phone alarm
An alarm clock wakes you up just as effectively as your phone. But what it doesn’t do is encourage you to waste time scrolling and checking notifications.
Use an alarm clock that sets off the radio so you can wake up to some great music instead. You’ll be up and out of bed that much quicker.
Day 3 – unfollow unnecessary accounts
You know the ones, accounts and pages that really aren’t part of your life yet they are still there. And worse, you get the notifications which you read and you end up scrolling through their pages. Puppy pictures and cats behaving badly are classics for wasting our time. Delete and move on.
Day 4 – do not use your phone while eating
Better still, eat dinner with your family or partner and have a conversation. Checking your phone when you are eating together is really rather rude folks!
You’re not being present with your family. Take the time to enjoy the food you are eating rather than mindlessly eating while checking your phone.
Day 5 – turn off notifications
Urgh! Notifications happen 24/7. When my younger daughter stays with us, I can hear her phone buzzing in the next room at all hours. Notifications at 3am might not wake you up but they will be disturbing your sleep.
And the same goes for daytime. Notifications make you want to pick up your phone to check what has appeared.
Take back control of your phone and turn notifications off. Then you can decide when you are going to pick up your phone. Ideally less often and when you are not in the middle of something else.
Day 6 – Clean out your inbox
How many emails do you currently have in your inbox? And why? If you haven’t actioned or read them by now then you are not likely to are you? Emails are clutter, get rid.
Going forward, when you check emails each day, make time to not just check them but read them, take any action required and delete or file them straight away. Keep your inbox for new emails and those needing your action. All others action and delete.
Day 7 – Don’t update your status today
Your friends won’t stress if you don’t update your status today. Not updating your status means you don’t need to pick up your phone, take a million pictures until you are happy with one nor think up something witty, dramatic or interesting to say about your day.
It’s okay not to update your status, it means you are too busy living life to think about your online status.
Day 8 – Do not use your phone an hour before bed
Experts say that good sleep hygiene is all about winding down your brain. Not using your phone (or laptop) an hour before bed means your brain doesn’t have to process the blue light or the hidden screen flicker from your phone.
These have been proven to make getting to sleep that bit harder. Do something else instead to wind down before bedtime. Read a book, or have a bath.
Day 9 – Go to the library
Instead of reading everything on your phone whether that’s friends status, news or fun memes. Go to the library and take out some books. Grab a couple of novels, maybe a self-care book or two and a book where you can learn something new.
As much as I love a good story, I do try to read books that can improve my knowledge or my life in some way. If your finances are not in tip top, perfect order then why not take out a couple of personal finance books?
Most finance books are DRY but these 4 are easy to read and more importantly, enable you to understand easily the lessons inside them.
Day 10 – Unsubscribe from the newsletters of your favorite stores
Stores like to grab your email so they can send you all too regular emails and newsletters. All designed with one thing in mind, to spend money at their store.
Reading through these newsletters and clicking through to check the offers not only uses up your valuable time, it costs you money! Unsubscribe from them all.
You can always go online to check out the latest offers when you are ready and in need of buying something specific.
Day 11 – visit a friend
Visiting a friend face to face takes your conversation with them to a much higher level than any amount of texts and emojis can. Invest time in visiting for a cuppa and see how much more connected you feel as a result.
Day 12 – Delete old photos you don’t need anymore
Too many photos on your phone mean they either take up storage space or you spend far too long scrolling through to find that picture you want to share with someone. You don’t need 100 pictures of your lunches over the past 3 months. Delete, delete, delete!
Day 13 – Spend a phone-free weekend
Here’s the cold turkey element of this 30 day digital detox challenge. Spend an entire weekend without your phone. Pop it in a drawer Friday night before you go to bed and don’t bring it out until Monday morning.
Don’t forget to turn it off so you can’t hear it vibrate with notifications. You might enjoy the phone-free weekend so much you’ll want to do it again next weekend!
Day 14 – Meditate for 20 minutes
Meditation is all about decluttering your mind and being present right now. You can’t turn your thoughts off completely but you can recognise them and push them away.
There are plenty of free apps that help you with guided meditations of anything from 1 minute to 30+ minutes. My favorite app is Insight Timer (I only use the free version). Try it and see.
Day 15 – Turn off your phone for 2 hours
You turned notifications off on day 5 and you’ve already achieved a phone-free weekend. Today, all you need to do is turn your phone off for 2 hours. If your boss requires you to have your phone on during working hours then turn it off when you clock off for the night.
Day 16 – Read a book instead of scrolling
On day 9 you went to the library. Hopefully you’ve already started reading the books you chose. Today is about reading one of those books instead of picking up your phone to check notifications and end up scrolling through your feed.
Day 17 – Spend time in nature
Getting outside into nature is good for the soul, your physical and mental health. Breathing in fresh air feels good. Surrounding yourself with trees, leaves, the beach or the mountains helps you leave life’s stresses behind.
It goes without saying that while you are immersing yourself in nature, your phone does not play a part. Keep the pictures as memories in your mind.
Day 18 – exercise
Get those endorphins going with some exercise. When you exercise you are not using your phone. You are focusing on doing something good for your health. A good walk, a run, yoga or some time in the gym, all are good for feeling better in yourself.
Day 19 – Do not post on social media for a day
All day. No morning status or nightime glass of wine pictures. It’s not necessary and doing so ties you back to your phone. Detox time, take a break from social media
Day 20 – Spend time with family
Put your phone away and spend some conscious time with your family. No phone to distract you (or them). Make a plan to do something fun and enjoy being present in the moment with each of them.
Day 21 – Make a gratitude list
It’s easy to focus on the negative and forget the positive. Make a list of things you are grateful for. They can be as simple as your health, the air you breathe and waking up every morning.
Taking the time to create this list does two things. Firstly, it puts you in a positive mindset and secondly you have a list to refer back to when you are feeling low. Your gratitude list can be the perfect pick-you-up.
Day 22 – Don’t look at your phone until lunchtime
Once you start looking at your phone it’s all too easy to keep checking back. Don’t use it to wake up in the morning. Don’t check your notifications first thing.
Keep your phone in your bag or desk until lunchtime. You could try and do this every working day from now until Day 30 for an extra phone detox challenge.
Day 23 – Write a thank you note
Thank you notes seem to get rarer with every passing year. Gone are the days when you received one every time you sent or gave a gift. Receiving a thank you note is a wonderful thing.
Take the time to say thank you in a note to someone. It could be for a gift you received, it could be for helping you out. Or it could be simply a thank you to someone for being a good friend.
Day 24 – Clean out your contacts list
Have you got contacts that date back 10+ years, who you’ve never contacted or spoken to in that time? Then it’s time to trim your contacts list. Your contacts don’t need to be everyone you’ve ever been in contact with. They should be people you are still in contact with. Less is more.
Day 25 – Go for a walk, leave your phone at home
A walk is great exercise and good for your mental health, in my book anyway. Walking in the fresh air in lovely surroundings is all you need. What you don’t need is your phone and it’s barrage of notifications.
Walking without your phone means you can take the time to enjoy the time, without trying to take the perfect picture or set a smug status about being healthy!
Day 26 – Write a letter to yourself
Write a letter to yourself. It could be to your younger self, reassuring them of how life is going to be okay. It could be your future self writing to the present you. It’s your letter.
Writing a letter to yourself gives you the opportunity to open up about your dreams, hopes and aspirations. As well as your fears and worries.
Day 27 – Use a cookbook instead of looking for recipes online
It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole on Pinterest or Google trying to find the right recipe you fancy making tonight. Go traditional and use a cookbook to find that recipe. Not only will it be much quicker, it also reduces your reliance on your phone. You don’t need your phone to cook dinner.
Day 28 – Do some gardening
Gardening covers so many positive bases. It’s gentle exercise, outside in the fresh air. It’s creative and you can do as little or as much as you want or need to. It also means you are not on your phone or any other digital media while you’re in the garden.
If you’re just starting out, get yourself a few pots, some manure and your plants and pot them up. You don’t even need a garden to garden. A balcony can hold many pots of flowers and vegetables.
Day 29 – Have a phone-free night with family
Turn your phone off and enjoy a whole evening with the family. You could turn it into a totally screen free evening by turning off everyone’s phones, laptops and the TV. Play some traditional games instead, charades or a family favorite board game.
Day 30 – Make your bedroom a no-tech zone
Your bedroom is your sanctuary. Keep it tech free to help you slip into sleep that much more easily. No phones, no laptops and definitely no TV. All they do is encourage you to stay awake!
Move the TV, use an alarm clock to wake up in the morning and consign your laptop to your living space. You’ll be grateful you did.
What I’ve learned from a 30-day digital detox
I didn’t think I had a phone addiction or needed a 30 day phone detox plan. Although I did have a sneaking feeling I that checked it a little too often.
I already had most notifications off – making me think I had my phone use under control. Yet because of this I caught myself checking to see if I had any messages a little too often.
What I’ve learned from following this 30 day phone detox is:
- Keeping notifications turned off is a good thing
- Deleting most of my social media accounts is helpful – having to download the app is off-putting enough for me not to bother
- I need some sort of app to stop me from checking news sites multiple times a day
- Unfollowing accounts helps reduce the urge to scroll
- I need to do a digital challenge regarding my excessive laptop usage!
embracing digital minimalism
I’m not yet at the digital minimalist stage. This is where your phone is in the background, a tool you use but not often, not multiple times a day. Certainly not interrupting quality time.
Digital minimalism was given it’s name by Cal Newport in his book: Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World.
Cal guides you through completing a digital decluttering process which helps you reclaim your time and re-work your relationship with all the social media apps you are on.
I’m enjoying the process though of moving more towards the minimalist way of dealing with digital devices.
How long did the digital detox challenge last?
If this is your first phone detox challenge I hope it was a roaring success. I hope you can see the digital detox benefits a challenge like this gives you.
The beauty of this 30 day digital detox challenge is that each day gives you a new challenge. Nothing too difficult, but still not easy when you’ve become too reliant on your phone.
My goal with this challenge is to help you reintroduce some activities into your lifestyle that are not reliant upon technology. You don’t need a screen to enjoy time spent with family or enjoying the fresh air.
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Last Updated on 5th January 2022 by Emma