STYLE

Do You Need A Digital Diet?

30/03/2015 10:03 | Updated 29 May 2015

Never mind the Green & Blacks - have you overdone the social media this month?

woman taking selfie with cell phone

Your digital health kick starts here, with the help of health psychologist Dr Kelly McGonigal...

Step one: Is it really a problem?

Dr McGonigal has identified two key signs that technology usage is becoming addictive in nature. "The first is that being disconnected starts to feel unsafe and scary," she says. "You panic if you haven't checked your phone in the last hour. You feel anxious, uneasy, distracted. Ultimately, you need technology to relax or feel OK." The second is that you allow your devices or technology to get in the way of real life, texting one friend whilst you're meant to be having dinner with another, or being on Facebook whilst you should be working.

Step two: Adjust your settings and set yourself free

Don't beat yourself up for being unable to resist the temptation to check your emails during a movie. Instead, make kicking the habit easier on yourself. "There's no shame in setting up physical barriers to your devices," says Dr McGonigal. "Try putting your phone on Flight Mode whilst you're out for dinner, or at the cinema. This works because it takes more than a single tap to change it back; most of us need more than one step to catch ourselves in the act."

Turn Off, Tune Out, Unplug

Step three: Establish physical boundaries

"You can create device free zones in your house, or at least device-free time zones, eg no devices on the kitchen table during meals," says Dr McGonigal. "You can make your bed a phone-free zone. Make it a rule that you never check your devices before getting out of bed in the morning."

Step four: Find substitutes for technology

"Personally speaking, I need to replace my technology habit with a new habit," says Dr McGonigal. "I'm not going to get off my laptop in the evening unless I have something specific offline to do, like yoga, going for a walk, listening to a favourite radio show or reading a book. Set an alarm if you need to, after which you don't touch your laptop, or at least don't check emails."

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