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Digital Detox: Why You Need One and How to Get Started

Is your iPhone attached to you at all times? Do you become anxious just thinking about how many emails are piling up in your inbox? Do you feel like everyone on Instagram has a much better life than you?

If you reach for your phone as soon as you wake up, can’t remember the last time you read a paperback book, or have a million excuses why you can’t find the time to start that breathwork practice, consider going on a digital detox to reset yourself this spring.

This season is an ideal time of year to take inventory of all of your relationships, including the one you have with digital media. While popular Ayurvedic food and self care based detoxes can be beneficial to help cleanse your system and reboot your energy, most of us need to dig deeper emotionally and address why it’s challenging to take care of ourselves the rest of the year. Similarly, with technology we all need to take an honest look at what it means to be connected to technology 24/7. When you begin to come clean about your need to be online at all times, making healthier choices in every area of your life will become easier.

Consider how it feels to have constant demands on your attention and energy. Each year we receive more emails and texts, and access greater levels of information online. As the pace of the digital world increases there is an expectation that we answer all forms communication ASAP and participate online around the clock. If this feels off balance to you, it is. Going on a digital detox will help you reprioritize your life and get back in tune with your own rhythm instead of rushing around to the beat of someone else’s drum.

Giving yourself a window of time to step back from the noise and tune into what really matters to you leads to greater productivity and longer stretches of true happiness

Staying grounded in our fast-paced world is a very healthy practice to adopt. Giving yourself a window of time to step back from the noise and tune into what really matters to you leads to greater productivity and longer stretches of true happiness. Think about the last time you traveled to a new place and the perspective you gained from the experience. A digital detox is the same. By unplugging these lines of communication you see things differently and tap into deeper wells of creativity.

Another huge benefit of a digital detox is improved relationships. Contemplate the last time you were out with friends and how often you or someone in your group had to check her phone. Each time you reach for your phone in any social situation (emergencies excluded, of course) you are checking out of the present moment rather than spending time with the actual person in front of you. Learning to be in each moment, even the uncomfortable ones, is one of the most valuable skills you can practice. Temporarily disengaging from emails, social media, and projects that keep you online is a wonderful way to recharge and gain perspective on where you head this season.

Digital Detox: How-To

  • Choose a date on which you will shut off all computers, smartphones, laptops, tablets, and any other digital devices you own.
  • Decide on a length of time for the detox. A minimum of 24-hours is highly recommended.
  • Use a digital detox to do something you’ve wanted to do like read, cook a new recipe, clean your closet, or hang with a friend.
  • Notice what comes up for you emotionally during the detox. Journal about it!
  • To close the detox set three clear intentions for yourself moving forward about how you want to engage with media.
  • Enjoy your new perspective!

If going off the grid feels too scary, try just ignoring Instagram for a few days and see how it goes. This is one of my favorite practices. I have days each week where I don’t post to Instagram and don’t even check it. Sure I have FOMO moments and other times where I feel like my business won’t do as well if I don’t follow the arbitrary rule of posting 2-3 x a day to increase followers, but the truth is I am happier when I am on social media less and that is worth everything to me.

If it feels like too much you can also make a commitment to not check your phone in social settings. Start small and feel it out.

Photo x Marielle Chua



  • Thanks for the reminder, Ashley! I already detoxed a bit, but it feels like I can do more. Friday (obviously, haha) is my social media day. This year I only post once a month and surprisingly I don’t have fewer clicks or readers. I started completely shutting down my phone in the evening and sometimes leaving it at home when I go out to be in nature. The other day internet wasn’t provided in the evening at home for almost two hours. What a strange but also great feeling! I felt a lot of silence around and the air seemed so clear somehow. Although I didn’t know what to do then, since I had planned to do online yoga, I was sad when the problem was solved and the internet started working again. But what a cool experience. Well, I have a question: How do you deal with friends and family if they check their phones non-stop during lunch or dinner conversations? I feel like I am getting more and more annoyed and concerned about that but really don’t know how to deal with it. I once thought I offer them to leave their phones right where they put their coats and shoes, but that seemed like a total party killer somehow. So how do you handle that? Corina

    • ashley

      Hello Corina,
      Thanks for sharing all of this and being part of the conversation! That is great that you are still getting the same traffic by cutting back, what inspiring news.
      I like your suggestion of asking people to check their phones with their coats at a party, I’ve been to parties like that and always appreciate it. Also, being direct with people when you are out to eat with them is very helpful. I usually keep it to how I’m feeling, “I really want to connect with you and I feel like you’re not really present with me while you are checking your phone so much at lunch.” Short, simple, honest, and direct. It’s important to keep it to your experiences and not accuse the other person. Really you just want to express whatever is true for you, how does it feel when they are constantly checking their phone? Share that. This is big work but very rewarding. Sometimes people aren’t even aware how much they are checking their phones. Sending love and keep us posted! x

      • Thank you, Ashley, you’re totally right! :-)

        • ashley

          You’re so welcome! Thinking of you this weekend! x

  • […] Digital Detox :: Why You Need One and How to Get Started […]

  • Chantelle

    Thank you so much for this!! I was looking for a way to do a digital detox since the new year just started.

    • ashley

      You’re so welcome! Happy New Year!

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