The average American spends 60 hours each week surfing the Web and currently owns, not one, but four digital devices, according to a recent Nielsen report. Naturally, this tech overload leaves many of us wanting an escape. Instead, try a digital detox.

Ideally, a digital detox consists of a complete shutdown of all things electronic for, at the very least, 24 hours. This would include your cell phone, your laptop, your computer, smartwatch, your laptop, and any other electronic gadgets you might possess or simply look at from time to time. And well-done you if you find yourself able to stretch the withdrawal period for longer than a day.

The major point of this mass unplugging is to free yourself so you can become available to other experiences, such as uninterrupted human contact or nature. Yet, an electronic withdrawal also liberates you from the stress of being on call to anyone who might want to ping you. Though most likely you can and do handle it, stress eventually leads to burn out as various scientifiic studies have shown. The benefits gained whenever you disconnect from devices and reconnect with both yourself and other people may be invaluable.

Why You Need a Digital Detox

De-stress

No one needs to tell you the electronic prod is real. No matter where you are, if you hear your phone buzz (or feel it vibrate), your attention immediately jerks toward it. Who’s that?  Here’s a startling thought: Most calls and messages don’t require your immediate attention.

As for social media, do you really need to witness, 24/7, the stellar insights, righteous complaints, shining new purchases, mouth-watering meals, perfected putdowns, charming dates, and occupational triumphs of each and every one of your acquaintances? Didn’t think so. Scientific studies have linked social media to anxiety, depression, narcissism, and poor self-image. Whether honestly communicated or gloriously falsified, a post is never intended for you personally, but as a broadcast to the world. They’re commercials, essentially. Do you like advertising?

Peaceful hours beyond the grasp of others and far from the social treadmill are balm to a weary mind and drained heart. Give yourself the greatest luxury of all: time.

Refocus

With all our digital devices, we end up multitasking, often moving from one task to another before fully completing, fully perfecting the first. To do anything well — even those jobs we tell ourselves we can "do in our sleep" — requires focus and an attention to detail. Though we live in ADHD nation, each of us can feel when true effort has been made. You have a choice. You can perform half-heartedly or you can delve. By taking a break from the electronic onslaught, we can re-train ourselves to concentrate more and pay greater attention.

Realign

Screen time is also bad posture time for most of us. According to the experts, posture follows vision. Think about: Do you slump as you read your tablet, resting on your lap? Lying on your bed as you watch YouTube, is your neck positioned in some weird way? Are you at work right now, hunched and leaning toward a computer screen? Checking your email on your phone, do you pause on the sidewalk head bent? 

All these things are bad for your posture, especially when you do them for long stretches of time. A digital detox means less weird body positions and increased physical awareness … it just happens.

Reflect

“I loaf and invite my soul.” Walt Whitman’s simple guidance seems impossible to fulfill today. Is loafing possible or (more importantly) desirable when we are constantly tethered to the digital world? What you currently think of as loafing — say, swimming from site to site on the web — never really feels like an escape. Somehow the net is still calling all the shots by drawing your attention to issues that might not naturally interest you and setting the parameters of your pursuit. All of us have modified our behavior to fit the web. To change your thoughts and shift your actions, step away, turn inward, and do nothing.

Absolute worse case here? You’ll be thrilled to return to all the noise.