The Incredible Health Benefits of Doing a Weekend Tech Cleanse
Have you ever wondered how disconnecting from the outside world could benefit your health? If so, you may be in need of a tech cleanse.
Many years ago, I began to notice a trend between being stuck to technology and increasing physical and emotional symptoms—not only with my patients but also with myself.
The stress of constantly being accessible was taking its toll on everyone I knew. So, I performed my very own 48-hour tech cleanse and the results were phenomenal. They were so phenomenal, in fact, that I still do it almost every single weekend.
Want to know more about how I perform this digital detox with a demanding career and busy life? Keep reading to discover the benefits of this exercise along with some practical tips to do your very own tech cleanse.
What is a Tech Cleanse?
Simply put, a tech cleanse is a break from your technological devices. It’s a digital detox, so to speak. But what, exactly, is a digital detox, and what will it require from you?
Basically, it requires you to take a 48- to 72-hour break from your smartphone, iPad, and computer. Sounds freeing yet frightening all at the same time, doesn’t it?
Why is it so scary? Well, we’ve become conditioned to feeling that we have to respond to every email, text, and missed call ASAP. The world moves fast, and if you don’t keep your thumb on the pulse of what’s happening, you could miss out. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real, modern issue, isn’t it?
But humor me for a moment …. Think back to the time before smartphones, when things simply had to wait. The world didn’t end. And there was no FOMO because you couldn’t fear missing out on things you didn’t know were happening.
Before social media, we didn’t know every detail and event going on in other people’s lives. And we were fine! In fact, I’d argue that we enjoyed our own lives more. After all, we weren’t constantly comparing our lives to others’.
How nice would it be to take a break from that? How amazing would it feel to not be at the mercy of the constant pinging of your phone? How incredible would it be to simply experience life and be fully present for each and every moment, instead of being stuck behind your screen?
As I shared, several years ago, I tried it, and I haven’t looked back. Almost every weekend, I do my very own tech cleanse. And, to be honest, by the time Friday rolls around, I look forward to it!
So, let’s take a look at how I do it, and then we’ll discuss the health benefits of doing your very own digital cleanse.
How to Do a Digital Detox
Here are the steps I take to do a successful digital detox and emerge on Monday mornings feeling relaxed and refreshed.
1. Put the smartphone away.
This is the single most important step I take. On Friday nights, about two hours before bed, I put my smartphone in a drawer. And I don’t carry it around until I pull it out on Monday morning. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
I know what you’re thinking: “But, Dr. Pingel, I couldn’t do that. I’m simply too busy, and what if there’s an emergency?
Look, I get it. I’m a doctor, and I have patients who have emergencies that pop up. So, it requires a little planning on my part. And that leads me to the next step ….
2. Develop a plan to check in, if necessary.
OK, here’s my confession: Because I do have patients who may need me on the weekend, I do check my phone a couple of times throughout the day.
But here’s the key: I mute ALL notifications except those from my patients. That way, I can simply glance at the home screen and if there are no notifications, I know all is well and can put my phone back in the drawer without opening it or engaging further.
If you have an elderly family member or child you need to stay in touch with, I suggest doing something along these lines. Plus, you can take additional measures, like my next step below ….
3. Have an emergency plan in place.
Additionally, my team, family members, and certain contacts also have my husband’s number as well as my home phone number, so they always have a few ways to get in touch with me for urgent issues.
Many of the people in my life know that I do my own 48-hour tech cleanse each weekend, so we plan accordingly. But I also have ways for them to reach me because, hey, life happens.
How Doing a Tech Cleanse Benefits Your Health
Now that we’ve discussed how to do it, let’s take a look at how doing a tech cleanse benefits your health.
It all comes down to breaking the smartphone addiction. Don’t think you’re addicted to your phone or iPad? Take a look at some of these stats and studies.
A couple of years ago, we discussed how addicted we are to our smartphones. As you may recall, of the estimated 264 million Americans who own a smartphone, the average person checks their phone an astonishing 47 times each day! And for those ages 18 to 24 that number jumps to 86. 
Assuming you’re sleeping about eight hours each day, that means we’re checking our phones three times every hour and the younger age group is checking it more than five times an hour.
So, what’s the problem with checking your phone so often? Surveys have shown that 86 percent of Americans say they are stressed out by checking their email and social media accounts constantly. 
And many cellphone addiction studies show links between overuse of phones and mental, emotional, and physical issues.  Moreover, social media use, in particular, is known to create changes in emotion via your brain, resulting in impulsive behavior.
None of this is very surprising, considering what we know about how stress impacts our health and wellbeing.
Amazingly, a 2015 study revealed that checking your email only three times a day can reduce your stress by 25 percent! 
Another benefit of cutting back on screen time? There’s actually something called transient smartphone blindness, which is a condition linked to smartphone usage! Basically, consistent screen time is causing eye strain and other eyesight problems.
By cutting down on your smartphone usage, you can save your eyesight and ward off issues such as blurred vision, burning eyes, dry eyes, and sensitivity to light. 
Personally, I’ve found that doing a 48-hour tech cleans is just very freeing. I love not feeling chained to my phone. The pressure to constantly check in is gone, even if just for the weekend.
The result? I’m less stressed, less anxious, and less on edge. I’m able to connect more with my family and experience living in the moment, which is really what life is all about.
The only downside? I do miss having my camera when my boys are playing sports or doing something cute or funny. So, I try to make it a point to have a camera on hand for a quick snap.
But, in all, I know I’m giving my boys and my husband the best gift I can give them—quality time and memories to last a lifetime. And giving up my phone is a small price to pay for that.
So, next weekend, I want you to consider doing your own tech cleanse and see how you feel afterward. Let me know how it goes—I can’t wait to hear all about it and the benefits you personally experienced.
- A few years ago, I performed my very own 48-hour tech cleanse and the results were phenomenal. They were so phenomenal, in fact, that I still do it almost every single weekend.
- A tech cleanse, or digital detox, requires you to take a 48- to 72-hour break from your smartphone, iPad, and computer.
- The benefits of doing a tech cleanse includes: breaking a smartphone addiction, reducing your stress, saving your eyesight, and reconnecting with your family.