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LONG READ: Your digital detox weekend starts here – Dundee and Fife fitness experts’ top tips

© Supplied by VariousLocal experts give their digital detox tips.
Local experts give their digital detox tips.

We’ve all done it – spent a full working day in front of our laptop or computer to then slouch on the couch, binge-watching whilst flicking through our phones.

The pandemic has meant a surge in our screen time and according to a recent report by Ofcom, we’re watching and streaming more than ever before.

A recent report by the watchdog stated Scots spent nearly six hours a day watching TV at the height of lockdown.

Nearly half of homes had a Netflix subscription and 59% of homes in Scotland had a TV connected to the internet through a smart TV or other device such as streaming stick.

So why not switch off and use the weekend to put down your phone and get a break from the screens?

Our local fitness and wellbeing experts share their top tips for a weekend digital detox.

Social media ‘smoke and mirrors’

Scott Hutchison-McDade, Kirkcaldy-based Yoga & Spiritual Teacher, said although self- care sounds simple, life often gets in the way.

But as with all things, practice makes perfect.

He has made a commitment to use his phone less and switch off.

Scott is a yoga and wellness practitioner.

Scott, who runs Centre for Positive Change and Wellbeing Radio says: “Things always crop up that we deem more important than looking after the most important person in the world – you!

“Over that past year or so of restrictions and limitations.

We’ve increased our screen time to fill that void of missing out and meeting friends, going on holiday…the list is endless.

“Don’t get me wrong I’m pro-technology, pro-social media, and I’m eternally grateful for the world of knowledge available with a few taps of your finger and the ability to chat to friends and family separated by oceans and mountains.

Scott has an on-air wellness station called Wellbeing Radio.

“But one thing is clear – too much time on our screens isn’t good for us – our perception of reality is thrown off its axis.

“Much of the content we browse is the glorified lights section of someone’s life, smoke, and mirrors we see what they want us to see.”

Take a screen break and take off your shoes

To escape and switch off, Scott’s solutions are simple:

  • Limit time browsing online
  • Spend time walking barefoot on the beach
  • Watch the birds in the garden

Eat, sleep, exercise, repeat

For Pamela Aitcheson from the Little White Gym in Dalgety Bay, simple routines make a big difference.

Pamela Aitcheson, owner of Little White Gym.

Her top tips include:

  • Get 8 hours sleep a night and try to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink six to eight glasses of water per day, more if exercising vigorously.
  • Get fresh air.  Aim for 30 minutes each day, even if that’s in 10 minute bursts.
  • Either sit in the sun and read a book or go for a gentle walk. But remember your sunscreen!
  • Exercise on five days out of seven. Find something you love doing and that you’ll be motivated to do regularly.
  • Spend time with friends and make time for family – walking, running, playing team sports, join a book club or sewing club, make a coffee date and just enjoy being together.

Dundee fitness guru Shelley Booth has spent more than 20 years transforming the lives of people all over the world and admits “we’re screen obsessed.”

Shelley Booth.

She said: “We take them everywhere. We get up and look at our phones. We go to bed, looking at our phones. We binge-watch TV series.

“Our kids play on tablets and phones in their prams. Then on games consoles as they get older.

“Digital distraction is making us cyber zombies! We’re not present in the real world and run the risk of losing our connections not just with reality but with people.

“We have to remember that technology is here to serve us, not rule us.

Shelley says people are obsessed with screens.

“Sitting at a desk or on a sofa staring at a screen for extended periods of time isn’t just bad for your posture, it’s bad for you mentally.

“Research from the ELSA (English Longitudinal Study of Ageing) even suggests it damages the brain and causes cognitive impairment.”

Set aside the screens

Shelley’s top tips for ditching the screens – especially at mealtimes – include:

  • Set the screens aside for a set period every day.
  • Take regular breaks from your desk – don’t just move from the PC to the TV.
  • Don’t eat in front of the TV or at your desk.
  • Don’t scroll while you’re eating.
  • Eat as a family and have a ‘no phones at the table and no TV on in the corner’ rule.

She added: “Take time to prepare the food yourself. Use the best ingredients you can afford – ideally not processed or from packets. Concentrate on the food you’re eating.

“Taste every mouthful and be thankful for it.”

What can I do instead?

And if you’re looking for inspiration on how to use your time Shelley also advises getting out into nature:

  • Go outside for a walk to feel the sun (or rain) on your face.
  • Breathe deeply, fill your lungs and limbs with fresh air to let the ‘feel good’ endorphins kick in.
  • Read a book.
  • Play a board game.
  • Move instead.
  • Talk to each other – go out for coffee and leave your phone in your bag.

She added: “Remind yourself you’re alive. You live in the real world. Be part of it.”