Your Life: Detoxing from your digital devices

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A digital detox may be sound frightening or impossible for some people, but Erin O'Hearn shows how you can disengage from technology without feeling disconnected. (WPVI)

A digital detox may be sound frightening or impossible for some people, but experts say you CAN disengage from technology without feeling disconnected.

"I was possibly on my email until midnight, going over things and working on projects," said Melissa Morral.

But last month Morral transferred to the Philadelphia-based consulting company, Vynamic. And at this company a policy called Zmail is strict: no emails on weekends or between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

"Waking up in the morning you really do feel more refreshed and kind of excited to go to work," said Morral.

Company founder and CEO Dan Calista came up with the idea about four years ago in an effort to further promote a healthier work-and-life balance for his team.

He drew inspiration from professional athletes.

"They have an active recharge period, a chance to recharge and refuel," he said. "Doesn't it make sense that as people in companies we have a recharge period as well?"

Vynamic has grown 15 percent every year over the last four years.

Calista practices what he preaches, by making a personal decision to take email off his phone completely.

"When I checked my email on my phone and we'd be out doing something as a family I was noticeably distracted," he told Action News. "I was still processing what I just read."

Family Therapist Shadeen Francis says setting structured time for turn-offs is equally beneficial for personal growth, especially children.

Adding that you don't have to feel disconnected during the detox, she says you can have interactions the old fashion way: in person.

"Make those digital conversations tangible," she said. "They can still be connected but they can connect to faces not screens."

Francis says a digital detox doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. At first limit the detox to after 7 p.m. or during work breaks.

"For younger people it's the kind of content," she said. "Maybe I'll decide I won't text anyone today but I'll still watch some videos."

Both Francis and Calista agree: agreeing to a digital detox with a group from work or family members is helpful for support purposes and may ease that fear that you're missing out on something.
The first few days may feel uncomfortable, which is natural when trying to break or change any habit. But they say that feeling will likely pass.

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