Cleanse Your Day With A Digital Detox

Increased screen time as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on our lifestyle. During a staycation at Civil Service Club @ Changi, Challenge guest writer Woo Hong Hao from the Singapore Police Force took the opportunity to embark on a digital detox.
Learn how increased screen time has affected our lives.

Singaporeans are spending almost seven hours a day on the Internet, according to a 2020 report by creative agency We Are Social.

In the US, adults logged equally long hours in 2020 on the Internet across devices. The hours have increased to nearly eight hours in 2021 and will likely exceed eight hours by the end of 2022, according to research company eMarketer.

As we stay indoors to curb the spread of COVID-19, screen time has replaced the hours spent doing social activities. In addition to leisurely activities, we now use our devices for work, such as telecommuting and home-based learning.

Studies have shown that excessive screen time can lead to poor sleep quality and eye strain.

A digital detox may be one way to reduce our reliance on devices and make better use of our free time.

Though some researchers are sceptical, believing that simply removing technology does not improve our wellbeing, for others it can be an opportunity to evaluate our device usage and engage in deeper self-reflection.

Preparing and Planning for a Digital Detox

I decided to try a digital detox during a family staycation at the Civil Service Club @ Changi, with attractions like the Changi Point Coastal Walk and Changi Village nearby.

The view of nature from our suite was a welcome sight. We could hear the sound of the sea waves with the cruising bumboats, and enjoyed a vast sea view from the balcony. The sumptuous food selections available within a five-minute walk from our suite made it a convenient one-stop staycation.

With these amenities, I was able to set aside my digital devices to reconnect with myself and nature amid peaceful surroundings.

I set a six-hour detox between 3pm to 9pm. To get the most benefits from the experience, here are some tips on what to prepare beforehand:

Notify Others

Set an “out of office” reply for email and inform your colleagues of delayed responses during this period to avoid the expectation of immediate replies.

Leave Your Phone On

We cannot escape the fact that this is a digital world, and that a phone is the fastest way to reach someone. We can make exceptions during our digital detox, such as using the phone to answer urgent calls, use SafeEntry or take photos. I hid the contents of text message notifications to avoid getting distracted by them when the phone pings.

Plan Ahead

Plan the activities you want to do during the detox to avoid having the urge to pick up your device out of boredom. It is also good to have a wet weather plan as a backup.

Planning an itinerary allowed me to fully optimise the time spent away from my devices. My wet weather plan left me with many activities such as bowling and exercising in the gym.

The Civil Service Club’s Staycation Playbook recommends activities and places to visit to help you enjoy your stay. You can also visit the Chek Jawa Wetlands and try your luck at spotting sea hares, octopuses and more. Early birds can catch a breathtaking view of the sunrise or sunset at Sunset Walk, which is part of the Changi Point Coastal Walk.

Ensure that you plan your day before you commence on a digital detox

A Break From Screens

From this experience, I realised that being disconnected caused me to worry about missing out on any crucial information – even when I’m simply reading magazines on the couch. I had the constant urge to reach for my phone, thinking that I would miss an urgent call or message.

Basking in the sea breeze while jogging along the coast, however, put those fears aside and allowed me to focus on the scenic view in front of me. Keeping my phone switched on for necessary activities helped to relieve some of the anxiety I felt. Despite not being able to use the other features on my phone, I felt more secure just having it with me.

Photos taken with my phone of the view and on walks by the coast.
Photos taken with my phone of the view and on walks by the coast.

Does a Digital Detox Work?

I ended my digital detox 15 minutes later than planned, after chats with my mother and sister over dinner and taking a walk along the coast. In addition to enjoying the good company, my eyes got a well-deserved break and the scenery allowed me to empty my mind.

Although I still have the habit of scrambling to reply to messages on my phone and check emails on my laptop, the digital detox has made me more aware of what I was able to do during those six hours of “me time”.

The benefits of a digital detox will not appear after a day, nor will it fully rid us of the urge to use our devices. However, it is important to take it one step at a time and understand how we can set boundaries when using our devices – even though we cannot completely put them aside.

Reflecting on my digital detox activities during the staycation, I have since set a time limit for my commonly used applications to minimise my screen time on my device.

This staycation was spent with my mother and sister.
This staycation was spent with my mother and sister.

Despite my family members being unable to commit to the full six hours of a digital detox, I am glad to say that they are at least able to welcome its purpose. We learnt to live in the moment, during a simple meal at the table and on a walk along the coast for a casual talk without any digital distractions.

Will a digital detox work for you? My advice is that if you never try, you will never know. The benefits of a digital detox are yours to explore.

Check out the full list of Civil Service Club Chalet FAQs and priority codes for public officers here.

    Nov 10, 2021
    Woo Hong Hao
    Woo Hong Hao
    Liew Xinyi
  • link facebook
  • link twitter
  • link whatsapp
  • link email