Stepping away from smart phones, screens and digital tools is no longer just a social trend for health gurus. Practicing digital wellness and taking "digital detox" time is vital for your mental, emotional and even physical health. Prolonged exposure to screens and tech impacts us in many ways, including: Eye strain Bad posture Difficulty sleeping and insomnia Depression Low self esteem Sedentary lifestyles Headaches Why digital detox? Taking purposeful time away from digital technologies—or doing a "digital detox"—can: Improve attention span Regulate your emotions Help you sleep Reduct stress Encourage interpersonal relationship Boost creativity Its important to note that this practice isn't about swapping one screen for another. It's about stepping away from computers, phones, tablets and TVs entirely. Some other stats to think about... According Straight Talk, the average American checks his or her phone every 12 minutes per day and spends nearly three hours on his or her mobile device On average, a person looks at screens for about 7 hours every day. That number is going up every year. Studies also show that excessive phone use can affect one’s mood. According to Mobile App Daily, people who use their smartphones for hours each day are more prone to depression, anxiety, insomnia, and lack of focus. Whether you can relate to any of that or not, you can probably agree that a little less time spent on your phone wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Types of digital detoxes You can do a long-term detox for a few weeks, or shorter times during the days or weeks. Long term detoxes may not be possible if you work on a screen all day (like most of us do!) If long term detoxes aren't possible, try to put your phone away for a few hours at the end of the day, or spend one day a week (maybe on the weekend) outside, playing games, reading, talking with friends, going for walks or other non-tech activities. 6 Tips to practice partial digital detox So much of our world revolves around technology now. Your employer expects you to respond to messages and emails quickly. Your friends and family expect you to respond to texts in minutes or less. You even rely on your phone to wake you up in the morning. You can’t just...ditch it. True, you can’t ditch it altogether, but you can distance yourself from it - at least temporarily. To successfully complete a digital detox, consider the following actions: Buy a traditional alarm clock - This will eliminate having to rely on your phone to wake up. You can also use the “Do Not Disturb” feature (if you have an iPhone), but just make sure to put your phone back on the nightstand or wherever you keep it once the alarm is off. (No email checking, social media surfing, etc.) Put that “Do Not Disturb” feature to use - Speaking of that feature, if you have it, try using it on a daily basis. You can customize the settings, so you can choose to do it for an hour per day, two hours per day...it’s completely up to you. (And who knows, that could be your most productive hour - or hours - of the day!) Commit to a specific screen time allowance - Parents often do this with children, but really, it could be beneficial for adults too. Give yourself an allowance of time to spend on your phone - two hours per day, for example. Maybe you choose to spend 30 minutes checking social media in the morning, 30 minutes checking it during lunch, and an hour going through everything in the evening. How you break it up is entirely up to you, but knowing you have a limit will (hopefully) drive you to be more cautious of the time you’re spending on your device. Turn off “non-urgent” notifications - You likely have notifications turned on for most, if not all, of the apps on your phone. But that can be distracting and can make you feel like you HAVE to check the app right then and there (to get the notification off your phone, at the very least). To minimize that, try turning off those non-urgent notifications. You know, the Facebook friend requests and non-breaking news updates. Be more present - We all say we want to be more present, but doing it is actually surprising tough. (I say this from experience.) Whenever you’re actually doing something - watching TV, eating dinner, hanging out with family and friends, etc. - make a commitment to NOT check your phone. Focus on that one activity solely. You’ll notice when you’re doing some of those things, you’ll have the urge to check your phone (for no particular reason), but after time, it will get easier. Set a cut-off time - If you’re one of those people that pretty much lies in bed until you go to sleep, you’re not alone. But that can not only keep you up longer, but actually affect how well you sleep. Set a cut-off time for phone usage and stick to it. Now one final, important note here: Don’t expect to just master the digital detox right off the bat. Chances are, you’ll try to do some of these, but slip up a little. Habits take time to break, so just be easy on yourself and keep going. Cutting out excessive screen time will actually give you a little more free time - even at work! So what can you do in that free time, even if it is just an extra 30 minutes or hour? Play around with some new member engagement ideas (fun social media posts, for example) or freshen up your website a tad.