Benefits of Tech Detox for Mental Well-Being

December 18, 2023   •  Posted in: 

How much time do you spend looking at screens? This could include scrolling social media before bedtime, playing video games, checking work emails, and more.

If you’re like most people, it’s probably more time than you’d like to admit. Reports show people, on average, spend a third of their waking hours on mobile apps – and that doesn’t include the hours we spend looking at screens for work[1].

A tech detox could be what you need to temporarily disconnect from your devices and remember to be present in your real life. Read on to learn more about the mental health benefits of a tech detox and how to get started.

What is a technology detox?

A technology detox, also called a digital detox or a tech cleanse, is a period of time in which you intentionally stop using your digital devices (or use them less). During a tech detox, you reduce or eliminate time spent on social media, emails, online games, and other digital platforms.

The goal of a tech detox isn’t to completely remove technology from your life forever. For better or worse, we live in a digital age; most need technology for work and daily activities. The idea behind doing a tech detox is to build a more balanced relationship with technology and allow you to reconnect with yourself, your relationships, and the world around you.

People have different ways of doing a tech detox. For example, some people may stay off all electronic devices for a few days, while others may limit the time they spend on their devices daily (such as turning off screens a few hours before bedtime).

Signs you need a digital detox

We all use technology in our work and personal lives. Not everyone may have a problem with it – so how can you tell if you need a digital detox from your devices?

In short, you could benefit from a digital detox if technology is negatively impacting your mental health. Here are some more specific signs you need a tech detox:

  • Constant urge to check devices: You impulsively reach for your phone or other digital devices, even when there’s no specific notification or reason to check them.
  • Difficulty disconnecting: You feel anxious or uneasy at the thought of being away from your phone or the internet, which leads to constant connectivity.
  • Sleep disturbances: You experience difficulty falling or staying asleep due to late-night scrolling or excessive screen time before bedtime.
  • A decline in real-life relationships: You’ve noticed decreased face-to-face interactions with family and friends because digital distractions take precedence.
  • Reduced productivity: You’re struggling to concentrate on your work or school tasks due to interruptions from social media and other digital distractions.
  • Neglecting self-care: You find yourself putting off important self-care activities, like exercise, healthy meals, and relaxation, in favor of spending time online.
  • Comparison and envy: You’re constantly comparing your life to others’ highlight reels on social media, which leads to feelings of inadequacy or envy.
  • Increased anxiety and stress: You feel overwhelmed by the constant influx of information and social pressure from digital platforms.
  • Physical symptoms: You’re experiencing eye strain, headaches, and neck pain from too much screen use.
  • Decreased attention span: You must check your phone to focus on tasks or conversations for extended periods.
  • Neglected hobbies and interests: You’ve abandoned previously enjoyable hobbies or interests to spend more time online.
  • Ignoring real-world experiences: You’re starting to prefer to document experiences solely for social media rather than simply immersing yourself in the moment.
  • Escapism: You use digital devices excessively to avoid dealing with real-life challenges.
  • Neglected responsibilities: You’ve failed to fulfill work, school, or family obligations due to excessive time spent on digital platforms.

Even if these signs don’t describe you, this doesn’t mean you wouldn’t benefit from a digital detox. As long as it doesn’t get in the way of your responsibilities, anyone who feels they’re using their devices too much can benefit from taking a break.

Benefits of a digital detox

Many mental health benefits could come with doing a digital detox.

Better sleep

Excessive screen time has been linked with insomnia and poor sleep quality. One study found people who use their electronic devices in bed were more likely to experience insomnia, anxiety, and short sleep duration (waking up before it’s time to). A tech detox, especially if you eliminate screen time in bed, could help you get better quality sleep[2].

Improved relationships

A tech detox can also allow you to refocus on your real-life relationships. Our devices can often become distracting, and paying attention to the people around you can be challenging.

By doing a tech detox, you can be present with the important people in your life and rebuild these relationships. Research has found that taking social media breaks can improve social connectedness[3].

Less stress, anxiety, and depression

Although technology has made certain aspects of life more accessible, it’s also increased our stress levels. For some people, this leads to mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Social media, in particular, is associated with poor mental health; in one review, people who were addicted to social media were more likely to experience depression[4].

Improved self-esteem

One of the main activities we do on our screens is to scroll through social media. Comparing yourself to others on social media can negatively impact your self-esteem. Disconnecting from social platforms can provide a healthier perspective on your self-worth and accomplishments.

How do I do a tech detox?

If you’re ready for a tech detox, you can start by setting clear intentions and goals. What is the purpose of your tech detox? What are you hoping to gain from this digital cleanse? Clarifying your hopes and intentions can make it easier to stick to your goal.

In addition, what is the scope of your detox? For example, will you stay off of all electronic devices, or will you allow yourself to use devices for work purposes only? Are there some apps that are allowed? Will you stay away from technology all weekend and resume activity on Monday, or will you reduce your time on screens over the long term?

Setting specific time limits and parameters for your digital detox can make it easier to measure your success.

Before you begin your detox, create a tech-free space in your home. For example, you might put your phone away in a cabinet or turn your television around. This will make it easier to resist mindlessly engaging in screen time.

Let friends and family members know you will undergo a digital detox. Letting people know about your detox will help manage expectations and minimize unnecessary contact during your detox period. Consider explaining your intentions and the benefits you hope to gain from the detox – this could help them support you. Some of your loved ones may even offer to be accountability partners.

Some other tips for your tech detox include:

  • Limit screen time gradually: If a complete tech detox feels overwhelming, gradually reduce your screen time. Begin with small periods of time each day, like an hour or two, and gradually increase the duration.
  • Plan alternate activities: Replace screen time with other meaningful and enjoyable activities during your tech detox. Engage in hobbies, spend quality time with loved ones, immerse yourself in nature, read a book, or practice mindfulness exercises.
  • Engage in mindful screen use: If you can only partially avoid technology due to work or other commitments, practice prudent screen use. Be intentional about the content you consume and set time limits for each digital activity.
  • Be patient with yourself: Be patient with yourself during the detox process. It’s normal to experience discomfort, especially if technology has become a significant part of your routine. Allow yourself the time and space to adjust to the changes, and be kind to yourself throughout this journey.

If you’d like holistic mental health support to improve your relationship with technology, our team at The Center • A Place of HOPE can help.

Our unique Whole Person Care approach ensures your treatment will address your life’s physical, emotional, intellectual, relational, and spiritual elements. Technology is a part of your well-being, and addressing this aspect is essential. Digital addiction is a serious issue, and you may need to detox in a safe environment just like you would from a drug or alcohol addiction.

We can help you find ways to manage your technology use, feel more confident in your true self, and heal from mental health conditions like depression and digital addiction.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you and your family.


1 – https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-59952557
2 – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2352721817302371?via%3Dihub
3 – https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/12/4566/htm
4 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7364393/

Dr. Gregory Jantz

Pioneering Whole Person Care over thirty years ago, Dr. Gregory Jantz is an innovator in the treatment of mental health. He is a best-selling author of over 45 books, and a go-to media authority on behavioral health afflictions, appearing on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN. Dr. Jantz leads a team of world-class, licensed, and...

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