With the holiday season coming to an end and the New Years resolutions picking up speed, the word coming out of everyone’s mouth will be detox. For the most part everyone will be talking about a detox in relation to losing weight, but I propose you try a different type of detox for 2018; a digital detox. A digital detox is an electronic detox; no phone or iPad/tablet (disclaimer: computer is allowed for work purposes) No, I’m not losing my mind and I can tell you several reasons why you should give it a try.
The first time I tried this craziness was in October. I realized I started to get consumed in constantly checking Instagram/ Snapchat/Facebook, and seeing what everyone else was doing. I would then get into this spiral thinking of how much more exciting everyone else’s life was, and this would put me in a not so good place. So on a whim.. As most of my genius decisions come about… I messaged my best friend told her not to worry (as she’s a bit paranoid) all was good, and that I would talk to her in a week: just like that I turned off my phone.
What happened next?? The world ended and there was nothing but darkness. LOL just kidding. Actually nothing happened, I made this decision at 10 pm on the Thanksgiving Sunday so I was tired and went to bed. (Glamorous I know)
Oddly enough as the first day progressed I was enjoying my new found freedom. Look at me go, not attached to any electronics- “I am amazing, a wonder women of this generation”.. Yes maybe a little much. The point is it felt great, I felt good about the decision.
Then day two kicked in and I was back into my regular routine. And my regular routine consists of hitting on the snooze button a couple of times, rolling over and checking emails. So as always I grab my phone out of habit but the screen is black and I remember the deal I made to myself: disconnect for 1 week. So out of bed I get to start my day. At this point the morning is going great, I had more time to get ready and I made it to the train station with 10 minutes to spare. Typically I’m the frantic , short bag lady getting in my morning cardio as I run for the train before it leaves the station, so that I can make it into work on time (ish). Now I hit the dilemma of how to spend my commute. Usually this hour is dedicated to browsing my emails, social media and news while listening to a podcast; I had to figure something else out. I decided to pick up the book I had been carrying in my purse for the last month, back and forth from home to work (and back) with the intention to read it, but never “finding the time”. You know that book; the added weight to my morning cardio session to the train. I’ve always enjoyed reading, but it’s never a priority and usually takes the back burner when deciding between: (1) aimless browse social media or (2)read. What can I say , it’s hard to resist scrolling through that IG news-feed. But I did it I choose the book over the news-feed, another win for me! Life was good!
As I strolled into work in my bliss of the no technology bubble I realized that there were TTC delays (anyone working, living or commuting into Toronto knows the struggle, especially on the Monday morning rush) and my team get’s a hold of me through my phone. At that moment I had to make a choice: turn it on in the name of work, or keep it off. This could have been it, the time I could end this craziness and turn it on in the name of work (a very legitimate and noble reason that anyone would understand). But the verdict was in: I choose ‘off’ – let me explain why- this is a boundary I set for myself, this is a personal phone and I had no obligation to use it for work. However technology is how we communicate and it gets intertwined; if I had to let me team know I was running late I’d use it just like we all do. But I decided ‘off’ and in doing so I said yes to me and my needs. I know this may seem inconsequential and mundane, but think about all the little instances, you said “okay, I will stay 20 minutes to finish up”, or “this needs to be done let me work through my lunch/break”. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do this, or that there is anything wrong with it, I’m just saying we all need some balance and need to choose “off” sometimes . I enjoy my work, and I take pride in doing a great job but it does come at a price, just like everything. In this case, when I said off I chose myself and the boundaries I set. It didn’t make me any less of good employee, or a hard worker, it was just a time I decided to put myself first, which is okay!! (Again the world didn’t end! And everyone got into work safely)
As the days proceeded at work, I noticed my productivity increased. I will admit to this, and I’m sure many people do it too : when a notification pops up on your home screen, you glance over and depending on what it is you either pick up that phone or return back to work. Come on admit it!! you know this is what you do, we are in a society full of distraction- it’s time to admit it. I did this ALL the time, and until this week of my e detox I just didn’t realize how much I did it! As well, as much as we don’t think that the 1 second glance over doesn’t disrupt our concentration, it does! You could be in the zone and that quick “ding” or “vibrant” grabs your attention. You get back into it sure, but that’s something that pulls you out of that zone that takes time to get back into it, and as good as we all think we are at multi-tasking we really aren’t!
Now, I need to touch upon the topic of sleep: If you have read my previous post, or talked to me you know how much I love my sleep. I take pride in needing to get 7-8 hours every night, and I can go on and on about how important sleep quality is. My stance on that has not changed, but I noticed how much using my phone effected my sleep quality. Prior to my e detox, I would get cozy under my blankets, and continue my conversation with someone or scroll through my social media news-feed until I could feel sleep coming on (for the unfortunate people on the other side of this, it’s when my sentences start to make no sense what so ever- even more so than usual), so I would put that sucker on airplane mode and go to bed (we have enough radiation and EMFs, I don’t need the additional from my phone while I sleep, but we will save this topic for another day). When I had my phone off, my bedtime routine changed. For one I had more time in the evening so I started to do a mini yin yoga bedtime routine, 10-15 minutes. When I finally got cozy in my covers I gave myself sometime to reflect on my day, and list off three things I was grateful for. This really helped to quiet my mind into a relaxed state so that I could go to bed. And Guess What?! in the morning I felt more rested than before. I wasn’t getting any more hours of sleep than what I use to, but I changed what I was doing prior to bed. This relaxation time, and the elimination of the bright screen helped to get the melatonin pumping so I could get the much needed -zzz to rest and recuperate.
So don’t get me wrong there were many wins along the week (you know the moments I felt like “I am amazing, a wonder women of my generation” sort of deal), but there were a lot of uncomfortable moments too.
Have you ever noticed how if you are in an uncomfortable situation you tend to have your phone in hand and you start looking through it, like it a security blanket or something? Because you know, if you aren’t talking to someone you can scroll through your phone, until you find someone to talk to.. But news flash, to talk to someone you need to make a connection in person not on your phone…
Or you have some free time to yourself, and think “great what do I do now?” and your immediate thought is to go to your phone? (you may not even have this thought, you may just start aimlessly scrolling through your phone)
Or “Oh, crap I need directions” (queue the the terrifying music and vision of being completely lost and never finding you way back home- yes a tad much but my mind is a dramatic place)…
but I think because of these uncomfortable moments it made it a successful digital detox. I learned to walk into a room without starring at my phone, and starting a conversation with people, instead of resorting to my digital security blanket. Oh, and when I was bored, I actually had to think of something to do, like practice lighting techniques with my camera, or spend time catching up with a friend…in person (crazy I know!) And guess what you can ask someone for directions and shockingly people are really nice, they will help you out (I know even more crazy!) – but seriously all sarcasm aside, the point is that it pushed me to do things differently, and in doing so I got to experience situations that have been lost to many of us because of our constant reliance to our phone.
In all I don’t think technology is evil and we should go back to the Middle Ages, but I do think our reliance on it has made us lose touch with key social interactions.
So if you are ready may I suggestion you try it? You don’t even have to do a week- even though I do suggest you try a week at least once. Maybe pick one day a week to unplug, or implement a rule of ‘no phone/electronics after 7 pm’ or next time you go somewhere don’t take your phone (I promise you, your followers on Insta or Snapchat will survive not knowing what you are doing for a few hours). Honestly have fun with it because the bottom line is: this is all for you, and putting yourself first 🙂