Do you need a digital detox? The signs are there of being burned out

Need A Break? How Digital Life Is Burning Us Out

Even before 2020 happened, I was very much aware that I needed to make more time for me.

As a digital marketer, my life is lived in front of a laptop screen and I’m often on my phone in downtime answering emails, checking social media and responding to a never-ending wall of messages (both business related and personal).

So the signs of burn out would often pop up and I would think to myself, “Man, I need a break. Maybe even a digital detox.”

And in 2021, I strongly get the impression that the whole world is saying this. During 2020, we found ourselves forced to focus our attention more online thanks to numerous lockdowns. Even the best intentioned of us, maybe aiming to learn guitar, do Joe Wicks workouts or read more books, has found ourselves glued to our digital devices more than ever.

Now in 2019, before the pandemic hit, the average internet user spent 6 hours and 42 minutes online each day! That’s nuts. That’s a sizeable chunk of our waking hours spent online.

In 2020 and 2021, that average is undoubtedly pushed up even higher.

If you feel like you’re burning out from information overload, or too much digital, you probably are.

So what are the warning signs?

You instinctively reach for your phone for no reason

Sitting down waiting for someone? Phone. Drinking a coffee? Phone. Walking to the shops? Phone. Sat in traffic? Phone.

Sounds familiar?

When you take a mindful look at your phone use, by which I mean you take a moment to just watch yourself, how often are you staring at your phone screen?

We often just pick up our phones and start idly checking social media, flicking through the news or even playing a game.

We don’t make time to be bored any more and this is a bad thing.

Boredom is good. Boredom is productive and can even be healthy for your mind.

Take a moment to be bored, and leave your phone alone if you want to avoid feeling burned out.

World events are affecting you personally

There is always something going on out here in the world. From social injustice to political bullshit, or whatever. And as we are more connected than ever, we often feel like these world events have a huge bearing on our lives.

Brexit, Trump, covid, global warming, political corruption… All of these horribly impactful events are generally beyond the control of our day to day lives.

But we become so involved in them thanks to social media and online news, that we feel like they matter way more than they do.

Many of us were feeling burn out with Brexit, and the end of Trump’s reign was a sigh of relief for many.

Take a break from the news, from the social feeds of hysterical people who seem to give too much of a shit about these events and feel your mind ease.

Insecurity about your life amplified

People have always looked at their neighbours and peers and wanted what they have. It’s human nature. Again, with access to digital, we have this crazy world of social media which contributes massively to our sense of feeling burned out and helpless.

People carefully curate their lives into pristine images for their social feeds, and we gobble this up eagerly.

So it looks to anyone watching the feeds that they have this picture perfect life. It might be body image, lifestyle, money.. Whatever… There is always someone somewhere in your feed doing better than you, looking better than you and with a better body than you.

Who cares?

Well, honestly? Only you.

If you looked at yourself in the mirror, both your physical self and your life, you’re probably doing alright? Right?

Even if you have some challenging shit going on, and honestly, don’t we all… You’re probably still living your life as well as you can and things will most likely be fine in the long run.

Put it in persepective and drop the comparisons to avoid feeling burned out.

Taking a break during covid

If you feel like you need a break, make plans to do a digital detox. This might sound like a hard thing to do, but actually it’s pretty simple.

Here’s how.

Tell everyone that you’re going to be doing a digital detox for a specified time from a set date. So, say “next week I’m going to do 3 days digital detox – meaning no social, no messages and no phone”. And then…

Do the digital detox!

Put your phone away, and leave it away. How can you do this effectively?

  • Read a book.
  • Watch films.
  • Go for long walks in the country.
  • Focus on fitness.
  • Spend real time with friends and family.
  • Do something creative such as play music or create art.
  • Go camping or somewhere that you can’t use a digital device.
  • Learn to meditate or any other form of mindfulness.

These are just a few ideas of what you can do to digital detox and avoid feeling burned out.

Personally, over Christmas 2020, I managed a 3 day digital detox but still occasionally took pictures with my phone and used Netflix. Other than that, no social media, no web information.

And it felt great.

I can highly recommend it!

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