Digital detoxes leave people feeling more free and more productive.
Greenfield Plantation’s Angie Reeves needed a break from social media and technology.
She was tired of getting news notifications on her phone. She was overwhelmed with all the information she was getting while mindlessly scrolling through social media. She felt unproductive as she would pick up her phone any time she had a free moment.
Throughout the pandemic, Reeves saw herself and her family get more attached to their screens, and she wanted to make a change.
When the Reeves family rang in the new year, Reeves decided to stop the news notifications, eliminate social media — especially Facebook — and restrict her screen time.
“I wanted our whole family to take a step back from screens, and if I was going to ask my children and my husband to be more mindful of their screen time and reduce their screen time, then I needed to do it myself,” Reeves said.
Digital detoxes limit the amount of screen time as well as social media usage. They are becoming more popular as people feel more attached to their screens and find themselves constantly scrolling through social media, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic has kept everyone indoors.
Reeves spent four months detached from social media and only used her phone when absolutely necessary.
“I did not look at one piece of news, one piece of social media, one piece of anything that does not relate to my work or my children for four whole months,” Reeves said.
Lakewood Ranch’s Samantha Hertzog did a digital detox for a week where she cut herself off from social media and limited the time spent on her phone. Hertzog realized she was spending every free moment on her phone and wanted to use her time more wisely, such as spending more time with her children.
When the pandemic started, University Park’s Kristin Gustafson, an avid painter, found herself watching videos on different painting techniques and different artists.
“All of a sudden I was feeling that was where my creativity was going instead of me doing it,” Gustafson.
Gustafson found herself getting addicted to the videos rather than focusing on her own art. She said it resulted in her not wanting to paint anymore.
Now, Gustafson limits herself to two hours of TV during the week and limits her internet usage.
Both Reeves and Hertzog struggled with the detox at first.
“It was hard the first day or so because it’s a habit to pick up my phone constantly, but it got a lot easier, and I realized how much extra time I had,” Hertzog said.
Every time Reeves found herself reaching for her phone, she said she would say a prayer, meditate or do breathing exercises. Reeves said the detox could make her feel disconnected from people because she’s not seeing updates from people on social media, but the benefits of the detox were worth it.
“When I was able to step away from it, only then did I realize how much unneeded anxiety and stress it caused,” Reeves said.
After going through the detox, Reeves, Gustafson and Hertzog said they felt free.
“Being able to step away from it was very peaceful,” Reeves said.
Reeves no longer felt the pressure to take a photo while on vacation and post it on her social media to share with others.
Instead of being on their phones, Reeves and Hertzog spent time reading books, spending time with their children or doing things around the house. They felt their time was being better served.
When Reeves finished her detox May 1 and started using social media again, she found it easy to go back to old habits and was on her phone constantly again.
After feeling the freedom of a digital detox, Reeves and Hertzog are planning to do another detox but have yet to determine the length.
“I think it’s good and healthy to do it regularly, especially if you have children,” Hertzog said. “My kids want to see my face, not my face with a phone in front of it.”
Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.