Digital detox – Give your brain a little rest


Tired of being online all day? Time for a little less Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other digital temptations. Let’s get started quickly to give your brain a little rest.

Tip 01: Get insight

To find out how much, how often and for how long you use your smartphone in a day, both iOS and android a handy tool. On your iPhone, this is called Screen Time. Go to Institutions and tap screen time. If you haven’t activated this feature yet, tap Continue and then on This is my iPhone. Your iPhone will now register the number of minutes you spend per app on your smartphone. You can also set limits so that your smartphone use does not get out of hand. To do that, tap App Limits and choose Add limit. iOS categorizes all your apps. For example, you can set a limit for all social media apps on your smartphone. To select a single app, tap the triangle on the right and choose an app. Choose Next one and switch the number of minutes you can spend on the app per day. Tap on Adjust days to create a different app limit per day. Tap on add to set the app limit. If you are over the set time, you will receive a message when you open that you have reached your limit. You can still go on Ignore limit to tap.

In Android, there is the Digital Wellbeing app from Android 10. For this you go to Settings / Digital Wellbeing & Parental Controls. Here too you can set app limits by selecting Dashboard / View all apps tapping an app and for App timer to choose.

Tip 01 Create app limits for certain apps.
Screen Time and Digital Wellbeing let you set limits to limit your app usage

Tip 02: Notifications

Tip 02 Specify in the settings whether and how notifications may be displayed.

A major problem is that we receive an enormous amount of information stimuli during the day because the smartphone is constantly on. Every few minutes you will receive a notification: a WhatsApp message, a new email, a response to one of your Facebook messages, etc. If you are bothered by this, you can reduce the notifications of certain apps. Of course you want to get important messages, but viewing a like on your Instagram message can wait a few hours. In Android go to Settings / Apps & Notifications / Notifications. For example, you can indicate here that you do not want to see a notification dot when a new message arrives or that notifications should no longer be shown on the lock screen. To determine per app whether a notification may be given, tap an app and turn off the slider under Notifications. In iOS, go to Settings / Notifications. You can choose how notifications are displayed per app. Tap the name of the app and turn off the notification completely by sliding the back Allow reporting to turn off. If you want to receive notifications, choose under notifications exactly what these should look like. You can choose not to play sound, not to show badges (those red circles in the corner of an app icon) on new messages or not to show the preview on your home screen and Show before display the option Never to choose.

WhatsApp on silent

Work and private life can get mixed up, a WhatsApp group with colleagues may also be about work in your spare time or vice versa. If you don’t want to receive these kinds of conversations in your free time, or just watch on your own time, know that you can temporarily silence certain WhatsApp groups and conversations. In the app, go to a chat, tap the name of the group or contact and choose Mute. Then choose how long the chat should be muted.

Tip 03: Do Not Disturb

What you can also do is to have your smartphone stop displaying notifications at all between certain times. This can be done in iOS with the Do Not Disturb option. You turn on the function at Settings / Do Not Disturb. You can turn it on and off manually, but it’s smarter to turn the slider at the back Planned turn on. Choose behind By the start time and choose back On the time when your smartphone is allowed to receive messages again. Of course you want to be able to be called in case of an emergency, so please indicate Allow calls from for the option Favorites. Then when someone calls whom you have marked as favourite, this call will simply be displayed. You can select favorites in the app Contacts. It is also useful to have the option Repeated calls to leave it on. For example, a person who calls twice within three minutes will now not be muted. In Android, swipe from top to bottom and tap the dashed circle to turn on the do not disturb feature. You configure the function at Settings / Sound / Do Not Disturb.

Tip 03 Make sure that you cannot be disturbed at times you set yourself.
Don’t let your smartphone show notifications at all between certain times

Tip 04: Less blue

Tip 04 Turn on the night mode if you still want to watch on your smartphone in the evening.

Of course it seems like a no-brainer, but you can also gain a lot of peace of mind by agreeing with yourself or your partner to turn off the smartphone at set times. For example, agree that you both turn off the smartphone after eight o’clock in the evening and only switch it on again in the morning after you have had breakfast. This small change makes going to bed or waking up much less stressed. In any case, do not take your smartphone with you to bed, this is disastrous to be able to sleep well. The blue light emitted from your smartphone causes your body to produce less melatonin, making it harder for you to fall asleep. If you still need to be working with your smartphone in the evening, make sure that your screen produces less blue light. In iOS you activate the option Night Shift Bee Settings / Display and brightness. In Android you can set the night lighting, whether or not automatically, via Settings / Display.

Vacation is vacation

Going on vacation means you don’t have to be busy with work. Yet many Dutch people open their work email during the holidays. Just don’t do that, and let your colleagues know about your vacation well in advance and appoint a replacement if possible for urgent matters. Should something very important happen during your holiday, agree on a fixed day and time that you will read your work email. An auto reply along the lines of: ‘I’m on vacation and emails are not read until after the vacation.’ is much more accepted today than it was a few years ago.

Set up an auto-reply so that no one can expect you to read your work email every day during your vacation.
This small change will make you go to bed or wake up much less stressed

Tip 05: Social media

One of the causes of mental health problems can be the use of social media. You don’t have to close your Facebook and Instagram accounts right away, there are other ways to reduce FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Once you open Facebook, it will display all kinds of messages from your contacts. You are then quickly inclined to scroll further and further. If you want to limit that flow of messages, but still want to read something from a friend every now and then, you can choose to unfollow all your contacts. This is not the same as removing them as a friend! Open Facebook and click on your account name at the top. Choose friends and hover over a contact’s name (if you’re doing this on a PC). click on friends and choose the middle option: Unfollow. You won’t delete the friendship, but this person’s posts and likes will no longer appear on your timeline. It is also nice to know that your friend will not see this.

You can also apply the same principle to Instagram, you have to do this from the app. Go to a contact’s story and tap the three dots in the top right. Choose Switch off. Choose Turn off story or Mute Story and Messages. With the latter option, messages will no longer appear in your timeline. Your contact will not find out that you have done this.

Tip 05 Rest on your timeline: unfollow all your friends and only check their profiles if you want to.
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