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The art of slow living: five ways to master a tech-life balance in 2016

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2016 will be the year that Brits attempt to balance our technology use with creativity and slow living the real world, according to trends consultancy Next Big Thing. Here, we share Stylist’s tips for embarking on a digital detox… 

1) Limit your time online 

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"Start by deleting the biggest time-wasting apps from your phone"

There are hardly any of those “I just HAVE to Snapchat this” moments in January, because everyone’s skint and hibernating – and there’s nothing more depressing or pointless than scrolling through Kendall Jenner’s holiday snaps when you’re lying on the sofa on a cold Wednesday night. Start by deleting the biggest time-wasting apps from your phone (we’re looking at you, Facebook and Instagram), buy a new book with that Christmas voucher, and turn the pages when you feel like scrolling or swiping. If you don’t trust yourself to stay off your smartphone, there are apps for that. Moment tracks how much time you spend on your iPhone every day, and allows you to set daily limits on screen time, while BreakFree does much the same for Android users. Downloaded.    

2) Embrace a hands-on hobby 

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Find a tech-free hobby

We’ve all been there: you get home from work, watch something on Netflix, accidentally spend 45 minutes on Facebook, and before you know it, it’s time for bed. It’s enough to make anyone feel square-eyed and sluggish. Make the most of your spare time by pencilling after-work activities into your diary. Go swimming, join a pottery or art class, try out a new recipe, find a free lecture or talk in your area; even a simple cinema trip will make you feel more productive and upbeat. 

3) Delete your work email app from your phone

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Constant access to our work emails causes added stress

In news that will surprise no one, a new survey has found that work emails constantly popping up on your phone can increase levels of frustration and stress. A recent study by the London-based Future Work Centre found that people who automatically receive emails on their mobiles are more likely to feel stressed and frustrated, and experience greater interference between work and home. The most stressful habits were leaving email on all day and checking emails early in the morning and late at night – which leads us neatly to… 

4) No electronics in the bedroom 

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Commit to a 'no tech in the bedroom' rule

If you check your phone last thing at night and first thing in the morning, or frequently fall asleep watching TV on your laptop, it’s time to consider leaving electronics in another room. Sound like an impossible task? All the more reason to do it. Research has shown that the blue light emitted by electronics throws the body’s biological clock out of whack – so while nodding off to the latest episode of Orange is the New Black might feel like the best way to go, it just isn’t. Aim to avoid looking at bright screens from two to three hours before bed, and invest in an old-fashioned alarm clock. 

5) Make at least one real-world plan with friends every week

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Make no-technology plans with your friends

Messaging apps like WhatsApp are great for staying in constant contact with friends – but they can also kid you into feeling like they’re right there with you, when actually you haven’t seen them for months. And of course, they make it a million times easier to flake last-minute. Make plans, stick to them, and keep your phone in your bag the whole time you’re together. You can do it!

Images: Rex Features, Thinkstock

Words: Moya Crockett

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