How to Plan for Digital Fatigue Before It Drains You

It might be hard to plan for a lot of things this year, considering how unpredictable the world has become, but one thing you can predict is that you will be spending a lot of time on screens and digital devices.

You can also predict that too much time on devices will drain you – mentally, emotionally and, surprisingly, physically. Digital fatigue causes problems with concentration and mood, along with headaches, and even a feeling of detachment from reality.

But although it is predictable, digital fatigue is also preventable. With the right planning and management, you can reduce the impact of digital overload. Here is how:

1. Take charge of your tech time

While a full digital detox might seem out of reach, you can reserve no-screen time throughout your week. Create times each day when you put your phone or device away, such as an hour before bed, and carve out a good few hours on the weekend to go screen-free.

Two studies were conducted to explore the effects of unplugging from social media for just 24 hours.

The participants reported experiencing positive emotions including happiness, carefree feelings, satisfaction, relaxation, and peace, while their negative emotions involved feelings of isolation and loneliness.

2. Apply digital mindfulness.

Ever gone to use your calculator on your smartphone, or to send a message, only to be distracted by apps? And then lose minutes or even hours mindlessly scrolling? It is a common problem, but one that can be solved with a simple action: use mindfulness.

Become aware of when and how you use devices, just as mindfulness meditation encourages you to become aware of your mind chatter.

You can use technology to help you manage technology. A number of mindful tech apps are on the market, including One Sec, an app that gets you to take a deep breath before you open social media apps.

3. Choose off-line options.

If you need to chat to a colleague in your workplace, consider going to see them face-to-face.

An Austrian study published in Nature in 2023 researched the mental health of more than 400 participants over a four-week period during the pandemic lockdown. They found that people who had more face-to-face communication in their day felt better than those who had little.