In this article Cottagely's content team collaborated with Dr. Irfan Siddique to give expert advice on the benefits of digital detox.
In today's fast-paced digital world, staying connected at all times has become second nature.
Our smartphones, laptops, tablets, and smartwatches keep us plugged in and up to date, even when we're on the move. But the constant bombardment of information can have a toll on our mental health, leading to stress, anxiety, and even insomnia.
That's where a digital detox comes in.
Dr. Irfan commented: "The overuse of digital devices causes many detrimental impacts on human behaviors, interactions, and cognition. Consequently, a significant rise in stress, anxiety, depression, decreased self-esteem, and other mental health concerns can be observed in clinical settings."
Understanding Digital Detox: A Potential Solution
A digital detox involves setting aside time to reduce or completely eliminate the use of electronic devices. By limiting our screen time, we can break free from the relentless cycle of emails, notifications, and social media updates. Not only does this offer an opportunity to engage in more mindful, present activities, but it can also have significant health benefits.
Dr. Irfan said: "Unplug–Don’t drug because reducing screen time can decrease the risk and symptoms of many physical and mental illnesses. For example, a study has revealed that limiting screen time can help prevent type-2 diabetes ."
The Process and Challenges of Undertaking a Digital Detox
While it may be challenging to disconnect completely, especially for those who rely on technology for work or staying in touch with loved ones, setting boundaries can be a useful first step. This could mean no screens after a certain hour, leaving your phone out of the bedroom, or designating specific times to check emails and social media.
Taking a vacation is an excellent time to begin this process, and for example a rural retreat can offer the perfect environment for a successful digital detox. The calm and quiet ambiance, coupled with the natural surroundings, encourage more outdoor activities and less screen time.
"Connecting with the natural surroundings can help digital detox as it provides an opportunity for ditching the addiction to digital devices. It can motivate an individual through social bonding, relaxation, and mindfulness", Dr. Irfan said.
Clinical Observations: Success Stories from Digital Detox
Indeed, medical professionals are noting an increase in patients who have benefited from digital detox. From improved sleep patterns to reduced anxiety levels and better interpersonal relationships, the benefits are wide-ranging.
Dr. Irfan has seen the effect with his patients:
"Recently, an 11-year-old adolescent boy came to my clinic complaining of excessive agitation, increased sensitivity to criticism, and restlessness. A provisional diagnosis of anxiety was made. On further exploration, the patient was found to have 16-hour daily screen time. Instead of starting anti-anxiety medications, digital detox was recommended. Surprisingly, his symptoms start resolving within two weeks of the appointment."
The Doctor's Perspective: Advocating for Balanced Screen Time
In conclusion, taking the time to disconnect and enjoy a simpler, more mindful existence, even if just for a short period, can greatly enhance our well-being. Your mind and body will thank you.
"I, as a practicing doctor, recommend digital detox to those with a screen of more than 2 hours outside of work. It can help preserve their global mental and physical health" Dr. Irfan said.
Remember, the goal is not to eliminate digital devices from our lives entirely, but to create a healthy balance. As with any lifestyle change, small, manageable steps are key. And who knows? You might find that a little disconnection makes room for a lot more connection.
Dr. Irfan Siddique
Dr. Irfan Siddique is a GMC-registered Medical Doctor with more than four years of post-graduation experience in child and adolescent healthcare. He has done his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from the University of Health and Sciences, Lahore. Afterward, he was positioned at Children's Hospital, Faisalabad, where he ran Outpatient Department for four years. Currently, he is performing his duties as Medical Doctor at St. Barts Health NHS Trust, London.