Over the past ten years, checking and scrolling through social media has become increasingly popular. The majority of people’s use of technology is not problematic, but a few users become addicted to smartphones and social networking sites and engage in excessive or compulsive behaviors.
In the Jewish community there is something called the Sabbath every Friday so essentially from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown is the time for Prayers religious activities and you’re not supposed to use technology, therefore, it is the time to completely cut off and time to relax and recover. Now the question is if they can take time off why do we not do that. If it is possible for them it’s okay for them, then that should be okay for everyone else. But the thing was it’s a question of drawing the line because it was a religious thing nobody would cross at boundary and most of us in our own lives, we are unwilling to draw those hard lines we make compromises and that is why for all of us that kind of complete isolation for full recovery and rest was not possible. So, In this article, we will understand the concept of ‘Digital Fasting’, How to practice it, and what are its amazing Benefits.
Digital Fasting and its Advantages
Digital Fasting is a period of time during the day or week when you do not use certain forms of technology. This includes phones, tablets, and laptops.
The Reason we should try digital fasting right at least 12 hours ideally on Sunday which would be most convenient for most of us is that it has a couple of big advantages and big benefits.
The first thing is that today we are all so caught up in our smartphones and apps that we are in some sense we are stuck in like an infinite loop we check our phone then what happens after some time we again check our phone and we do it again and again. Now the question is if we want to just give ourselves some time to just slow down and recover what do we need to do? We need to pull back a little bit but the problem is when it comes to smartphones there is no little bit. It’s like a craving that will pull you to the phone again and again. Think about a Netflix series you watch one episode what does it do it makes you crave to watch the next one the same thing happens with your phone. Moderation is very hard you check it once you want to check again and one more time and this never ends so the only way to break this loop is to completely smash it. It’s not very easy to tone it down, and during a digital fast what we do is we completely break that loop and when we do so for 12 hours from 6 am to 6 pm. It will make us to actually feel different. The craving is totally gone so this is an amazing benefit, it’s truly life-changing.
The second reason why you should try this is when we check our phones almost always it’s a habitual action. We are not saying let me check my phone right let me check Instagram. You’re not thinking that consciously, it’s just you’re getting bored getting anxious and you pick up your phone it’s an automatic Behaviour. Now all automatic behaviors are initiated by some trigger something which reminds us to check the phone and very often what’s the trigger just the visual side of the phone is in front of us that itself is a trigger. Think about it if you have nothing else to do and there’s the phone in front of you what will most of us do? We pick up the phone open it and check some app that’s the default response also if you check one app then you’ll want to check something else so this habitual action can only be stopped if you remove the initiation, the trigger and therefore it’s very important that we take a complete break. So, that way the triggers are gone these could be literal triggers like a notification or the trigger could just be the fact that you are seeing the phone or maybe you are checking one app let’s say WhatsApp and that triggers you to also check the second app Instagram. And that habit loop we can break it through Digital Fasting.
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The third big benefit is that when you cut yourself off completely for those 12 hours. It does a reset of your reward system in your brain. Now just to simplify things let takes an analogy here let’s say if you are sitting at home and having a pile of chocolates and ice cream and candies in front of you on the table and whole day you’re munching on the chocolate candies you’ll behaving like lots of sweets. Now if someone gives you a slice of fruit like a carrot which is mildly sweet, when you eat a carrot, Will it be tasty of course not, it’s too bland because now we are used to a very heightened level of sweetness. The same thing is happening in our life there is so much beauty around us whether like the normal sunset, or the evening breeze, or looking at the trees the simple beautiful things around us we don’t really experience their beauty. Because we are used to the constant bombardment of excitement from all these apps. So, when we do this fasting, we are able to reset our reward system. If you go and take a walk without your phone you’ll actually look at the trees and the garden and the breeze and everything else in a very different manner you will start genuinely experiencing life. These are at least a couple of very powerful benefits of Digital Fasting.
How to make your Digital Fasting Easy?
After understanding the benefits now, the question is how we should go about it. There is no real magic or mystery, but you should have to follow a couple of tips that will make it easy and practical to do this exercise.
The first thing is deciding the time for the digital fast. The preferred time is Sunday morning, 6 am to 6 pm, for 12 hours. Now decide the duration keep it at least 12 hours long and Sunday would be a good day for most of us.
The second thing to prep for it, one thing we need to do is let people who depend on us know that for this duration either I’m not available or I’m available through this alternate mechanism. Ideally, if possible switch it off completely the same thing for your laptop shut it down put it away, and that for the whole day. Now you are without technology, and you can experience the physical world.
The third thing is you have 12 hours without technology so, plan for it. Things like to keep a couple of books ready that you want to read some hobby may be drawing painting, playing some games etc. Find all those things that you have been postponing for years and this would be a great time to try those things out.
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Note that once you decide all of this be fanatical about the whole thing remember if you say okay let me just check the phone once if you compromise then the thing is gone, so be rigid about it. Finally, you might wonder okay but what if this doesn’t work. So, what you should do is to try it on one Sunday just one day and if you like it keep doing it, if you don’t like it nobody’s asking don’t continue then.
If you want to take it to the next level one more thing can be added to it which is to add two hours of complete isolation which means you’re not even reading books. Because very often in fact most of the time we’re always doing stuff we are never with ourselves with our own thoughts and what that has done is it has trained our mind in such a manner that we cannot tolerate boredom. But whether we want to learn a new skill or want to do something hard our mind has to be willing to stick to something which is not super exciting so two hours of not even reading books just being with yourself can be a great way to start training our mind to experience and to be comfortable with boredom.