A digital detox--that is, stopping your use of some or all of your technology--holds real appeal as people become overwhelmed with modern life. Understanding the potential effects of the digital detox process might help you determine whether it's a good choice for you.
1. Relationships could blossom.
A 2015 study led by Kate Unsworth found that people who "unplugged" from technology in the Moroccan desert remembered details about each other better. The participants notedly were in an environment that didn't place as many everyday mental demands on them, but unplugging likely removed another potential source of distraction, thereby facilitating their improved recall. The lack of devices also means there's more opportunity to complete gestures--for example, smiling--that get mirror neurons firing and releasing feel-good chemicals like oxytocin. It can mean that conversations last longer, too, giving you more insights into others' thoughts and experiences.
2. Posture could improve.
It's no surprise that the use of digital devices tends to make people slouch and hunch over. Get those devices out of the way and you no longer have a barrier to good posture. Your improved stance might make you look more approachable and confident to others. It also could improve your mood and productivity. It even could address physical maladies, such as back pain. In fact, most chiropractors work based entirely on the assumptions that:
1) The body has the capability to heal itself, and
2) Proper alignment of the spine enhances virtually every biological function.
3. You might sleep better and reclaim your mental/physical health.
Blue light from screens suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that tells your body to rest. Technology also can hinder sleep if what you read or watch causes you stress as you're trying to settle down, because stress increases the production of adrenaline, a hormone that tells your body to be alert. Removing technology allows your circadian rhythm to normalize. That, in turn, can mean your brain truly rejuvenates for better cognitive function and that dozens of physiological processes, such as metabolism, are efficient.
4. You might miss important details.
Using technology to keep track of details means that the prefrontal cortex of your brain works less. If that technology disappears without a decrease in information load, though, the prefrontal cortex is forced to fire hard to handle the information your devices used to control. That uses up more glucose and oxygen, which can leave your brain with insufficient fuel to handle everyday tasks. You might suffer "inattention blindness" as a result, unable to notice new information that's important.
5. Your emotions and body might go haywire.
If your prefrontal cortex uses up a lot of your fuel for extra information handling, there might not be sufficient energy to take care of emotional regulation, too. What's more, research has shown that completing technology-based tasks stimulates the reward centers of your brain, as happens with drug and alcohol addiction. The brain can become dependent on using the technology to keep levels of chemicals such as serotonin at normal levels, with removal of the technology producing both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
One Final Click
Technology detoxes are serious business. They can do a real number on both your physiology and psychology. The potential for them to benefit you is just as strong, however. How you implement the detox makes a big difference in your result, so follow experts' recommendations: Get a support system in place first, and don't try to go cold turkey.