Chances are your smartphone is within arm’s reach right now, if you’re not already using it to read this. We’re spending more time than ever on our digital devices—anywhere from one to two hours daily, depending on which study you consult—and with the flood of incoming texts, emails, calls, and push notifications, it’s rare if our screens stay dark for more than a moment.
While there’s no doubt technology has made our lives easier in many ways (remember roadmaps?), research suggests that our addiction to it is real. “Every new notification or text triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that drives us to seek rewards, so you keep coming back for more," explains Levi Felix, co-founder of Digital Detox and Camp Grounded, which run tech-free weekend getaways for adults.
This vicious cycle is taking a toll on our health, mental wellbeing, and relationships. Surveys and studies have reported an association between various tech and depression, anxiety, and decreased marital satisfaction, to name a few.
Ending that cycle, however, doesn’t need to require an anguishing separation trial with your gadgets. With a few simple steps, you can stay plugged in and “detox” at the same time, helping you feel more fulfilled, calm, and connected—IRL, that is—to the things that really matter. “When technology no longer dictates your life, you’ll feel like you’re truly living to the fullest,” says Carson Tate, founder of Working Simply in Charlotte, NC, who helps clients establish a better work-life balance.