Why One Washington, D.C. Woman Is Going on a ‘Digital Detox’ for 365 Days

(ABC News) — Could you give up Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or SnapChat for 24 hours? How about for an entire week? A year, anyone?

One woman in Washington, D.C., with hundreds of Facebook and SnapChat friends, over 1,300 Instagram followers and more than 4,000 Twitter followers, is giving up social media for 365 days.

After deleting those apps for 30 days last September, Darla Bunting said that the mini-digital detox wasn’t enough.

“I went right back to my old habits,” the education advocate told ABC News. “I fell victim to posting and scrolling all the time. I didn’t unplug enough to develop new habits.

“By living in a connected world our mind doesn’t get an opportunity to rest,” Bunting, 30, said. “We don’t get an opportunity to focus on one particular thing at at time. As humans that’s how we learn. We learn through in-depth studies and spending months, even years sometimes to master our craft. In the digital age, that becomes harder because we acquire a lot of information, but we lose our ability to focus.”

So she decided last month to detox for an entire year, starting Jan. 1. Bunting, 30, announced the news to family, friends and coworkers in a blog post.

“I was laying in bed and the idea popped into my head,” she recalled. “At that time I didn’t understand why, but the more that I thought about it, I remembered how much I learned from my first detox. I learned how much time I spent on social media and once I eliminated it, I realized it freed me up to do other things.”

Bunting also said her initial detox helped her “gain a certain peace of mind.”

“I was able to really get a good night’s sleep and my weekends finally felt like enough,” she detailed. “Normally, my weekends felt too short, but I felt like I had enough time to recharge and get all of the things done that I needed to do to prepare for the upcoming week.”

Bunting said she hopes to spend the year reallocating her time in productive and meaningful ways such as saving to buy her first home and going to the gym.

“I look forward to getting back to basics and getting back to things that are most important to me,” she said. “I hope to feel a sense of accomplishment because I’ve had this time to commit to areas that I’ve neglected.”

Still, she realized that there will be some drawbacks from logging off, especially when it comes to keeping up-to-date on family and friends.

“One of my friends got engaged yesterday and I wouldn’t have known if another one of my friends didn’t text me the photos and videos,” she said. “So it’s going to force me to get out of my comfort zone to stay in contact with folks.”

Bunting added that when it comes to her job as a Regional Manager at Enriched Schools, where she uses social media for certain initiatives, she has a plan.

“I can write tweets that I can then pass on to my teammates so they can schedule and post,” she said.

Levi Felix, founder of Digital Detox, which holds retreats to help people go off of the grid for four days, said everyone can work to unplug daily even if they don’t want to take an entire year, month or week off.

“Buy an alarm clock,” he suggested. “Because most people use their phone as their alarm clock. Then when they wake up, they see all of those push notifications and then it’s like bam! I’m back on the grid.”

Felix, 31, also recommended having device-free meals. He added, “Carry a journal with you. If you need to jot down an idea, write directions or if you’re bored at a doctor’s office, you can pull out your journal and draw.”

Lastly, Felix said to “set up a digital safety net.”

“When detoxing, post how people can get a hold of you or use email away messages,” he said. “Those simple things can relieve a bunch of stress.”

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