The Christmas holidays are when many of us will be prioritising spending time with our families and friends. With our lives becoming increasingly hectic, Christmas is the ideal time for us to refocus our attention on our loved ones and to take a break from the demands of working life. While some of us will have taken days off to recuperate from our responsibilities, we may still struggle to unwind. This is often because of our personal devices distracting us constantly which can get in the way of some much-needed relaxation time.
Whether you want to stop using your phone completely or simply cut down, we’ll give you our top tips for making the most of your holiday by having what we like to call a ‘digital detox’, so that you can reconnect with what’s most important this Christmas.
Firstly, How Much Do You Actually Need to Use Your Phone?
Before we tell you to throw your phone into a water fountain in the name of Yuletide festivities, you may want to establish just how much time you can realistically spend without your phone to hand. If you’re expecting important phone calls at any point during your time off for instance, or you want to take some photos and videos for the sake of memories, it may not be realistic for you to leave your phone switched off all day. However, if you’re determined to do a serious detox, there are some more hard-line approaches that we can recommend. But before we get into that, let’s start with the basics:
Using Your Phone
If you want to take a break from social media, why not use our 'Gone Offline' image below? It's a polite way to let your followers know why you aren't replying at the moment. To share this image on your phone, simply hold down the image, then you should get an option to add it to your photos. From here, you can easily share it on the social media accounts of your choice.
If you plan to not completely abandon your phone this Christmas season, you might want to consider disabling email notifications, setting restrictions on your apps, turning off push notifications, enabling Do Not Disturb or simply deleting apps from your device. Here's how to do each measure:
Disabling Email Notifications
To disable email notifications on your iPhone, go to Settings > Notifications > Mail > Disable 'Allow Notifications'.
To disable email notifications on your Android: go to the Gmail app > Menu > Settings > Select your account > Notifications > None.
To set restrictions on your iPhone, go to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > then enter a four-digit passcode and confirm it > tap the switch next to Content & Privacy > tap Allowed apps > tap the switch or switches next to the app or apps that you want to temporarily disable.
On Android devices, you can use app timers which can limit the amount of time that you can spend in an app. You’ll get a warning when you’re reaching the limit that you’ve set, and then eventually you’ll run out of time and you’ll be temporarily blocked from using the app (you can later go back and change this). To set restrictions on your Android, go to the Digital Wellbeing page > tap Dashboard > tap the arrow next to the words 'No Timer' and set a limit for the app that you want to limit.
Turn Off Push Notifications
Push notifications are alerts from apps that are designed to notify you of something that you wouldn’t otherwise see unless you were to go into the app. Some push notifications are useful, such as a reminder to do something important, while others are simply distracting.
To turn off push notifications on your iPhone, simply go to Settings > Notifications > Swipe up to see a list of apps > Tap on the app you want to stop sending you notifications.
To turn off push notifications on your Android: Go to Settings > tap Apps & Notifications > Notifications. From here, you can turn off notifications for the apps that you don’t want to notify you.
Do Not Disturb
Do Not Disturb allows you to temporarily stop alerts, notifications and calls from making sounds or flashing up on your screen.
To enable Do Not Disturb on your iPhone: Go to Settings > Do Not Disturb. From here, you will be able to turn on Do Not Disturb or you can set a schedule. Alternatively, you can go to the Control Centre and hold down the crescent moon button to adjust your Do Not Disturb settings. You can also tap the crescent moon button to turn it on or off.
To enable Do Not Disturb on Android: Simply swipe down from the top of the screen to open notifications, then select the Do Not Disturb icon to go to the Settings menu. You can also do this by going to the Settings gear icon then go to Settings > Do Not Disturb.
Don't forget that you can delete the distracting apps from your phone to reinstall later, meaning that if you get tempted to check certain accounts, you will have to login via the internet on your device. This is much more time consuming and might deter you from wasting more time on them.
Not Using Your Phone
If you want to take a more hard-line approach as we mentioned earlier, then why use your phone at all? You could leave your phone in another room to where the festivities are happening, so you aren’t as tempted to check it. Another option is if you’re going out for the day, you could leave your phone at home completely so checking it isn’t an option. We would recommend this if you still want to check your phone for anything important but not urgent later in the day. You could also switch it off completely, if you aren’t expecting any important phone calls at all.
If you want some suggestions of some fun tech-free activities that you can do with your family this Christmas, take a look at our top ten list below. Remember, your presence is a present, so unplug from the digital world and live in the moment this Christmas.