The Ultimate Guide to Digital Detoxing From A – Z 
The Ultimate Guide to Digital Detox From A – Z
How many times a day do you find yourself checking your phone after putting it aside for just a few mintues? Luckily there are vacations to take where you can leave your phone behind and spend time at a digital detox resort, filled with activities that reconnect you with nature and other souls without the need for a screen.
Read on to learn more about detox retreat activities, signs that you need to digital detox, how you can spend less time online, the benefits of breaks from technology for both your mental and physical health plus so much more on this fascinating topic.
What Is a Digital Detox?
A digital detox is the act of deliberately spending time away from phones, computers, electronics, and the internet in general. It could be a complete tech detox or a social media detox. By spending less time on social media apps, you can reduce stress, improve your physical and mental health, and refresh your mind.
The term digital detox is something many people aren’t familiar with until they realize they’re spending too much time online. The constant connection from endless screen time makes it hard to concentrate, and you may find yourself struggling to concentrate on anything besides what’s happening on your phone.
From social media notifications, texts, emails, and feeds to check, there is an endless stream that can make it hard for you to spend even 30 minutes without feeling the urge to check your phone.
When you start researching “how to spend less time on my phone” or even “social media anxiety,” you’re likely to come across the suggestion to take a digital detox. Reducing the time, you spend online can be one of the best decisions you ever make! It’s not easy, though, especially if you’ve become reliant on technology for both work and leisure.
Thankfully, there are ways to make a digital detox work for your lifestyle. Before we explore ways, you can take a break from social media and the internet, let’s look more closely at the signs you need a digital detox.
Negative Effects of Too Much Technology
There are many ways that technology can harm your mental health and even physical well-being. For starters, spending a lot of time on a digital device means you’re likely sitting for extended periods throughout the day.
Without regular breaks and physical exercise, you can experience weight gain, muscle aches, back and neck pain, and even an increased risk of illness and disease. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest modern health risks people face. According to medical experts, the health risks of not getting enough exercise include obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and more.
Other negative effects of too much screen time include insomnia, poor sleep quality, depression, and anxiety. Increased stress levels are also more common among people who spend two or more hours a day on a digital device.
Social media apps in particular can be bad for your mental health. Although they do offer inspiration, healthy distraction, and connection, they are not a substitute for living a life offline. Spending too much time on social media can cause you to compare yourself to others, increasing feelings of insecurity, self-consciousness, and dissatisfaction.
People who heavily use social media report feeling more anxious and depressed than people who use it less frequently.
By committing to avoid social media for a specific period, you can give your brain a chance to rewire itself and learn how to enjoy the little things in life again. You become more conscious of the world around you and connected to the people and places you encounter.
Benefits of Digital Detox
Even a short digital detox can have major benefits. Firstly, people who take time away from screens usually feel their stress levels decrease, anxiety go down, and interest in the world around them renew.
Rather than constantly checking your phone for new content, you seek out enriching experiences around you. Instead of feeling anxious for the next notification, or worrying about missing something, live more in the present moment.
One of the biggest benefits of digital detox people notice after a week or so is renewed focus. Digital detox rewires your brain to focus more on one task at a time, rather than always instantly jumping from one topic to the next.
You may also find yourself more satisfied when you do things. Because effort is required to induce happy feelings without screens, you can find yourself requiring less instant gratification from the internet or social media.
Moreover, since there will be less time staring at a screen, you'll naturally want to get out and move more. You could start exercising inside, hit the gym, or get out in nature. For inspiration, check out our list of the best campgrounds in Florida for families.
How to Do a Digital Detox
A digital detox looks a bit different for everyone. In most cases, people today can’t afford to go completely without the internet. They use it for work, they need it to pay bills, and perform many other important tasks.
On the weekends, however, you may be able to commit an entire day to spending time offline. You can start small, then work your way up to longer periods if you find 24 hours too daunting at first.
These tips can help you enjoy time offline and experience all the amazing things life has to offer.
Monitor Your Screen Time
Think about how much time you spend online every day. Some of it may be non-negotiable, like using the internet for work. But many other hours could likely be invested somewhere healthier. Your smartphone likely already has a screen time app built into it, which you can activate to track your usage.
You can also download free screen time apps that track your digital habits. They can help highlight where you’re spending your time online, what you’re doing, and how many hours a day you’re investing in different apps.
Separate Your Tech Essentials
We know some apps are essential, like email and work-related software. But what apps are taking up space and distracting you too much? Social media apps tend to take a lot of time and energy from us, so consider removing them for a while, or adding them to a different screen so you’re not tempted to constantly check them.
Do you really need to be alerted the minute someone you follow posts a new tweet? Probably not. Turning off notifications from social media can instantly give you some much-needed peace and quiet. Enjoy the tranquility of a less hectic lock screen.
Set Specific Times to Go Screen-Free Each Day
Maybe it’s when you’re going to bed, or during the first hour of each morning. Have times each day that you go without digital devices, so you engage in some tech-free activities like reading, journaling, gardening, or anything else that comes to mind!
Set a Goal
You may need to start small. For example, try to go a full 30 minutes without looking at your phone, or spend at least an hour on the weekend without using social media. For those who have made tech the center of their socialization and entertainment, it takes time to reconnect with the outside world. Remember, small steps lead to long-term progress.
If you check their settings, many social media apps offer the ability to set reminders when you’ve been scrolling for an hour or more. You can also schedule reminders on your phone to pop up every 30 minutes to an hour. Enable them when you’re using an app, so you’ll be given a friendly nudge to log off and take a break.
Even if you aren’t on a full digital detox, you can still practice healthy technology habits. This includes taking breaks from screens when you’re using them throughout the day. Every 30 minutes, take time away from technology to reduce eye strain and give your mind a chance to recharge. It’s important to look up and see the world around you!
Have Tech-Free Zones in the House
Make your bedroom a meditative oasis or turn the living room into a peaceful space for relaxation. Wherever you find yourself using technology the most, consider setting limits that allow you to mentally “switch off” from the digital world. In fact, getting rid of phones, tablets, and computers from your most used spaces can drastically reduce the amount of time you spend online.
Have a List of Digital Detox Activities on Hand
Get an old-fashioned pen and paper to write down a list of fun things to do without technology. Whether it’s reading, crafting, playing sports, or heading outside, you’ll feel better about logging off when you know you have plenty of awesome activities waiting for you.
Connect With Friends Face to Face
That’s right — get together IRL and share a smile that isn’t an emoji! We may find it more convenient to talk through text or video chat, but nothing beats getting to really interact with each other. Host a potluck, head out to a coffee shop, or find fun things to do in your area and invite your friends.
Yes, really, go that extra mile and delete social media apps from your phone. Here’s why it’s beneficial; you can still access the platforms through your web browser, but you won’t be able to be on them virtually 24/7. Instead of getting an endless series of notifications, you’ll just see what’s new whenever you consciously decide to log in.
Digital Detoxing for Kids
Did you know children should only spend a maximum of 2 hours per day online? According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, parents should limit children’s exposure to screens, especially during their formative years. For kids 2-5, screen time should be 1 hour a day on weekdays and no more than 3 on weekends.
For older kids, it’s important to set healthy boundaries and teach them the importance of taking regular breaks. Because of the way apps are designed, and how impressionable young minds are, there is a greater risk for dependency among children who heavily use the internet.
It doesn’t have to be social media, either. Too much of YouTube, Netflix, games, or even educational apps can have equally negative impacts. For parents with small children, especially those under 5, too much screen time can even lead to developmental delays.
Just like adults, children need time away from screens to recharge. In addition to combating physical problems, like eye strain, a digital detox for kids can help them build important skills. Whether it’s playing outside, building with blocks, drawing, or spending time with family, children should have days filled with a variety of activities that don’t require a screen.
Remember that it’s also important to lead by example; spend time with your kids without checking your phone. Have screen-free Saturdays, and always eat your meals together without watching TV, checking your phone, or letting the kids use tablets.
Places to Go for a Digital Detox
Let’s say that you’ve already tried detoxing at home, but you want something more restorative. In that case, you can look into a resort or retreat that will naturally help you reduce screen time.
Anywhere you can get in touch with nature is ideal for a digital detox. Being present with the natural world helps you feel more refreshed, and it reduces the likelihood you’ll start scrolling again out of sheer boredom.
Visit a Ranch
One of the best places you can go is a dude ranch. These horse resorts are ideal for anyone who wants to “get away from it all” and really reconnect with nature. For some people, a trip to the dude ranch is their first time ever learning how to immerse themselves in the outdoors.
From bull riding songs to rodeo fashion, there’s a lot to know when it comes to knowing what to do at a dude ranch. Start your day with a morning horse ride, go for a hike, and enjoy spending time in the great outdoors. At night, you can catch a rodeo or toast marshmallows over an open campfire.
A spa retreat is a great way to disconnect from screens for a while as you tend to your mental and physical health. From deep tissue massage to pampering skin treatments, you can give yourself some extra TLC as you unwind in peaceful surroundings.
The top spa resorts to go to for a digital detox are in nature. Whether you want to be on a beach or surrounded by lush forests, you can find a spot that’s perfect for your tech-free getaway.
Imagine allowing all your worries to drift away as you coast down the slope of a snowy mountain. Riding above the trails, you can find yourself in a winter wonderland that encourages you to get out and be active.
Ski resorts aren’t just for thrill seekers, though. There is plenty of R&R to be found tucked into a cozy mountainside lodge, from hot springs to spas. Just sitting by a crackling fireplace as you watch skiers tackle the slopes is relaxing in and of itself.
America has some of the most beautiful national parks in the world. From Yellowstone and Yosemite to Acadia and the Grand Canyon, consider taking a trip to one of these natural wonders.
Because they are protected by the government, natural parks are a great place to find inner peace without screens. You won’t have great cell signal either, so even if you wanted to sit and scroll through social media, you wouldn’t be able to!
It can sound extreme, but for many people, going far out in nature and camping at a national park (or glamping at a resort makes their digital detox the most rewarding experience. You can explore camping in style rentals if you’d like to get outdoors but still enjoy modern comforts.
Renting an RV for the weekend can be a great way to see more nature and keep yourself occupied. You’ll have to learn how to drive the RV, where to park, and plan a fun road trip that helps you see some amazing sights while enjoying tech-free time on the road.
The peaceful rhythm of the ocean, the salty air, and the warm sand make the beach one of the best digital detox destinations. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the Florida coastline or driving along Big Sur in California, beaches can help you find freedom in being immersed in nature while offering entertainment through water sports.
Consider taking a surf lesson or riding a bike along the boardwalk. Go for a sunrise or sunset walk or bring a sketchbook and draw the landscape. There are also plenty of restaurants and boutiques tucked around beaches, so you’ll be able to have a fun day enjoying the sun and sand while discovering local treasures at your destination.
What to Do Before Taking a Digital Detox
Some people find it helpful to tell family and friends that they’re going to be offline. This can help you avoid the feeling of missing out on anyone texting or calling while you're "unavailable." You may even decide to arrange some social outings ahead of time, then meet up with your loved ones for some fun in-person activities that don’t require a screen.
You should also make some practical allowances, like using your phone to message a friend or sending an email. While the best time to have a total digital detox is the weekend, you can still carry on your tech-free activities during the week, too. Just commit to using technology solely for necessary tasks rather than using it as a passive form of entertainment.
Remember to be patient with yourself, too! It’s completely normal to feel bored and even anxious right after you stop using social media apps. It will take several days for your brain to adjust to a life without constant connection. Although it can be a challenge at first, persevere! The benefits are more than worth it.
Consider making digital detoxes part of your routine. Set aside 30 minutes to an hour each day to stretch and refresh your mind and body!
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Reflect and Reevaluate
After your digital detox, it’s important to consider what you learned about yourself. Do you feel more or less stressed without technology? Have you been using excessive screen time to deal with negative emotions? The more you know about yourself, the easier it is to make healthy changes that have long-lasting results.
We don’t think you need to eliminate tech from your life entirely. The ability to share, connect, and discover online is a gift, but it’s one we need to handle in moderation.
When you take a trip somewhere new, like Westgate River Ranch Resort, you have the opportunity to really take inventory of your social media habits and find out what matters most to you.
A lot of people are surprised to find that what they really love is the excitement and discovery of the internet, not the apps themselves. Once they start focusing on non-tech hobbies, they naturally crave the internet less and less.
Even if you decide to keep using social media regularly, you can learn to set healthier habits, boundaries, and limits that make your time online more meaningful. Remember, it’s about the big picture! What is technology doing for you instead of to you?
Consider Going Off-the-Grid to Go Offline
Imagine going on a vacation and not documenting it online. Shocker, right? But it’s possible! A digital detox retreat not only encourages but invites you to step away from your screen and get out into the real world.
Whether you head to a campground or stay in a luxe teepee at Westgate River Ranch Resort, you’ll be able to truly embrace nature and all the fun that still exists in the offline world. Saddle up on a horse, prepare to fire your first arrow in an archery lesson, and enjoy watching the sun rise and set every evening without the glow of blue light from a screen obscuring your view.
For more ways to disconnect from technology and reconnect on vacation, visit our Westgate Resorts Travel Blog.
*Westgate Resorts is in no way affiliated with the attractions featured in this article. Items or places listed are current as of the publishing date of this article. Please call or visit the respective website for the most up-to-date offerings and details.
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