Why Digital Health is the Hottest Health Trend of 2021
When we think about technology, particularly our digital devices, it’s incredible to see how far we’ve come. The first “smartphone” launched back in 1992, and was quickly followed by a multitude of other digital devices including the first ever Palm PDA, and the Blackberry with its famous track ball. But it wasn’t until the iPhone launched in 2007 that “smartphones” hit the masses. The proliferation of these devices into our everyday lives was something that most of us didn’t think to question, especially as more and more advancements emerged with better, more addicting features.
Cut to today and most of us have come to not only rely on our smartphones, but many of us have multiple devices that we use daily or weekly. In fact, 80 percent of Americans check their phones within the first 30 minutes of waking up, and then go on to spend an average of over 4 hours on their phones every day (which amounts to about 56 days every year). We used to think that spending time mindlessly scrolling through our phones was a good way to decompress after a long day, but in reality, we are learning that this dependency on our devices is only causing us to be more anxious and even depressed.
For many people the last thing they associate with health and wellness is our digital devices, but in fact, it’s these devices that can have a major impact on our overall health.
Shifting the Focus to Digital Health
With meditation and mindfulness practices becoming all the rage over the last few years, we are starting to see much more of an emphasis being put on improving our mental health, and yet, we don’t realize that the devices we check more than 50 times per day can oftentimes be the very thing causing stress and unhappiness.
Unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to lean even heavier into our digital devices as our life lines to the world outside of our homes. However, as “Zoom fatigue” becomes even more widespread, this increase in our screen time over the last year has made a lot of us take a step back and evaluate our digital health practices. As Catherine Price puts it, “The problem isn’t smartphones themselves. The problem is our relationships with them. Smartphones have infiltrated our lives so quickly and so thoroughly that we have never stopped to think about what we actually want our relationships with them to look like–or what effects these relationships might be having on our lives.”
As more studies and research emerge, we are starting to understand the direct link between our screen time practices and our mental health. Research shows that employing a digital detox can not only help people focus on the real priorities in their lives, but it can also have a positive impact on their mental health. The irony is that two thirds of American adults agree that the occasional digital detox would be good for their mental health, however, barely a quarter of those people have actually done it.
The problem is that our phones are actually meant and designed to addict us. With a constant barrage of notifications, they are constantly demanding our attention and then designed in a way to increase the dopamine levels in your brain which makes us feel rewarded. To make it worse, social media apps like Facebook came along that only sucked us in even further. For many app builders, the goal is to keep people glued to their screens, using neuroscience and other tools to discourage you from closing out the app.
Albeit the lure of TikTok, Instagram and other “addicting” apps are always going to be there, it’s important to take agency in our usage of these apps and step away from our devices every once in a while. Whether that’s taking a 5 minute break twice a day, or even taking a whole day to step away from your devices, there are many ways to do a digital detox, and it’s important to start making this part of your weekly routine.
How to Get Started
Although the phrase “digital detox” can sound a little dramatic, the concept is actually very simple, and best of all, it’s super easy to do and can produce very positive results! A digital detox really refers to a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers. It’s regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress and focus on social interaction in the physical world.
Taking the time to understand your personal screen time habits is the first step on the journey to better digital health. Tools that show you your screen time average each day or week is a great place to start so you can get a baseline and learn where you can start to improve. From there, you can go a step deeper to understand what apps you’re spending the most time on and why, which can help you be more mindful of how and when you’re using your phone. For example, knowing that you’re spending 30 minutes each day checking email on your phone, but in turn spending three hours each day scrolling through your social media feeds, can help you be more mindful next time you go to open up your Twitter app.
Using features like Life Mode on Palm, or even Airplane Mode, can help reduce the distractions of your smart devices. When you can silence the constant barrage of notifications, you can better focus on your tasks at hand, whether that’s getting work done, enjoying some family time, or venturing outdoors.
Life Mode Journey
If you want to take your digital decluttering to the next level, you should consider investing in a minimalist phone that was made to keep you connected, but not consumed. A small but fully functional smartphone like Palm is designed to keep you connected without all the extra distractions that usually come with bigger phones. It’s a great solution for people who want to have a healthier relationship with their digital world.
Beyond being a feature on Palm, Life Mode is all about living a better, more balanced life by employing mindful behaviors to our overall health and wellness patterns. It’s a way to not only think about our health and wellness goals, but also a way to view a holistic approach to general wellness that puts real life first, starting with our own personal health journeys.
Start your Life Mode journey today!