A table full of electronic devices with people ready to practice digital minimalism.

Embracing Digital Minimalism For Mental Health

Trevor Conrod
May 2, 2024
April 26, 2024

The commanding rise of prominent social media apps like TikTok, Instagram, & Facebook is no secret. A 2024 stat from Backlinko shows TikTok has been downloaded over 4.1 billion times. And whether the content being shared on these platforms is good or bad, or whether these platforms have a place in our society or not, is not what we will be discussing today. But rather, how we can control the inevitable urge to constantly interact with these attention grabbers, especially when our mental health deserves otherwise.

The link between social media and mental health has been openly and widely studied with platforms like Instagram and Snapchat coming out as the most detrimental to young people’s mental health and wellbeing in a RSPH report. However, even with this knowledge, implementing change to correlate with these findings is something that has been a much less traveled path. In today's blog, I will be sharing with you my journey of fighting back against attention-seeking algorithms and how I've felt after sticking to the changes.

Fighting Back Against An Endless Feed

It's not far-fetched to say that if you are reading this blog, you've watched a YouTube video before. Maybe more than a few in a row? Maybe for more than an hour? I personally struggled with this. YouTube, filled with both entertaining and educational content, was a place I found myself losing precious working hours on a near-weekly basis.

I knew I needed to get things under control, but self-control is easier preached than practiced. This is where I discovered two extremely useful tools: Freedom and Cold Turkey Blocker. Both tools are website and application blockers that allow you to set specific schedules for apps and websites, deciding when certain things should be allowed and when they should be completely blocked. Using these tools, I have been able to plan out an ideal schedule and adhere to it without trying to force self-control into the equation.

Let's say, for example,  you want to indulge in some social apps in the morning before your work begins. Make the most by allowing YouTube and other social apps during breakfast, then easily block them as you focus on your workday. These apps give you the flexibility to transition from leisure to productivity seamlessly. So go ahead, enjoy your morning routine, and conquer the day with ease.

Digital vs. Physical

Slowly moving away from relying on an app for each part of my life is something that came with my digital minimalism overhaul. Needing to check a website or app for each and every event, task, or schedule was inevitably a part of the problem that needed some readjusting. This is where Rocketbook came to the rescue. Rocketbook is a reusable and customizable notebook that can be tailored for virtually any need. For myself, my Rocketbook holds all of my daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. Along with a monthly calendar with important events to keep track of.

Transitioning to using a physical notebook has been a game-changer in my quest for digital minimalism. Not only does it help me stay organized without relying on multiple apps, but it also gives me a break from constantly staring at a screen. Not to mention, there is an undeniable satisfaction of physically crossing off tasks once they are completed. This tangible sense of accomplishment is something that I missed when relying solely on digital tools.

Flip It Open

Phones undoubtedly take the lead when it comes to digital addiction devices. According to reports, worldwide screen time is approximately 6 hours and 40 minutes. That's a staggering total of over 40 hours per week spent glued to our screens. It's no wonder we often find ourselves wishing for an extra day in the week to get things done. If anything else, this statistic alone should serve as a stark reminder that there is so much more we could accomplish if we use our time wisely.

I was no exception to this statistic. Making any excuse to use my phone for "important purposes" or "work". This addiction to my phone was hurting my personal relationships and starting to affect my work output. Something needed to change. That's where the Light Phone 2 came into the picture. Think of your most basic flip phone, updated to work in the modern era. That's what you get. "Not much," you may be thinking. And that's exactly right.

The purpose of the Light Phone is not to be a 1-1 replacement of your current device but rather a lifestyle change. You will miss some apps, you will crave those endless feeds, and you will reach for the phone to see what notifications have since popped up. All with the peaceful surprise of nothing. For those who may be thinking "I couldn't do that with my life!" Chances are, with some creative changes, you could. 

As a business owner, monitoring social media and messaging apps was a significant aspect of my job. But I have since used helpful autoresponders, which now allow me to efficiently inform clients that messages will be checked once daily when I am mindfully focused on my computer. This once essential part of my job has become a quick ten-minute segment of my day. And it is just one of the many ways I have been able to fully embrace digital minimalism and enjoy the present.

Next On The Calendar

To cut back on call tags and long message chains, I’ve started utilizing scheduling links for those who want to talk and meet with me to do so with ease. The issue? How do I keep track of all these appointments without constantly checking an online calendar or looking out for a notification? This is where my final mindful change came in. A digital calendar, ironic right? As part of my push towards eliminating unnecessary app usage, I did find this solution to be a perfect fit for my digital minimalism toolkit. 

Skylight calendar is a connected calendar that takes events from all of your favorite tools and displays them in a sharp and easy-to-read 15" display. For myself, my skylight calendar is mounted right above my nightstand, ready to display my day when I wake up, ensuring that I'm prepared for classes and meetings ahead.

Is Digital Minimalism Sustainable?

Throughout this blog, there's one thing you may be thinking: "There's no way I could do that!" It's important to remember that the art of any kind of minimalism is to start small and move slowly. Similar to building healthy habits at a gym, we start with one workout a week and progress slowly from there until it becomes a lifestyle.

Start by setting small goals for yourself, such as designating specific times of the day to check social media or limiting the number of apps on your phone. Gradually decrease your screen time and focus on being present in the moment. Just like with any lifestyle change, consistency is key. Over time, you may find that the benefits of digital minimalism far outweigh the initial discomfort of making those changes. Remember, progress is progress, no matter how small. So, take it one step at a time and embrace the journey towards a more intentional and mindful digital life.

Trevor Conrod
Trevor Conrod
Trevor Conrod is the founder and small business owner of LWStrength and a content creator for Nivati. Designed to serve members in-person and online, this facility offers an intuitive and exciting take on the traditional group fitness experience. His primary purpose is to help others find their strength, both physically and mentally, as stated in the company's slogan, “Find Your Strength.”