Each year I take some time on New Years Day to savor the year that has passed and reflect upon what I want to create in the year ahead. This year I started January 1st by taking a full day to do spa treatments and to “unplug” so I could do some serious reflecting without all the distractions. I turned off the TV, my computer and my Smartphone to quiet the hum that they create, not necessarily audibly, but definitely with where my attention goes.
It was a wonderful day. I woke up and instead of grabbing my phone to see what the weather was like and to do Facebook for 20-30 minutes before my feet hit the floor, I put on my socks, turned on the heater and made myself a cup of tea. I opened the door to see what the weather was like versus hitting my App repeatedly to predict the future temps and humidity. Remember those days, when we looked to the sky to guess what the weather might be?
Around midmorning I was Jonesing to check Facebook to see what was going on that I was “missing.” Were people out there asking me questions wondering where I was, were recipes floating by in my feed not to be found again, did anyone “like” the last photo I posted? This part actually became uncomfortable as my own realization hit home that I spend way more time on Facebook than I would ever like to admit. A book became a new option originally to quiet and focus myself. Later that book felt like a calm oasis as for the first time in many months I sat down and got absorbed in a good read.
I read. I went for a walk. I visited my sweet granddaughter. I cleaned my house. I then took some time for a luxurious soak in the tub, a facial mask and a pedicure. I enjoy pampering, and I always mean to do it more often, so this was a real treat. I had time to plan out my meals, to enjoy the sensuality of cutting and chopping fresh veggies and to chew and enjoy each bite.
In the evening once again I went from peace to a little pain as I longed to turn on the TV to watch some reality TV shows as my way to escape. Alas, there was no escape in sight, as I really wanted to go for the whole unplugged experience. So I did some journaling and read some old entries from a while back and gradually those “cravings” ceased.
The next morning I woke up feeling more refreshed than normal. I noticed I was referencing my phone and computer less that before my digital detox. Spending downtime for a day did me a world of good. Even though it had its pain points, the good far exceeded them. In fact I am now doing a digital detox one day a week most weeks. I call it “Tech-Free Tuesdays” to help friends and family remember I am unplugging that day.
Some of the Benefits of a Digital Detox:
- More Focused. I think multitasking is way over rated as single tasks make me feel so much more grounded and a part of my experience.
- More Productive. Because I was more focused, I was more productive and felt more satisfied about the flow of my day.
- More time. I had more time to do the things that mattered to me.
- More connected. Today at lunch as I am laughing with my daughter and granddaughter, I looked over to see three women out enjoying a meal. Their ages appeared to range from their mid-forties to mid-sixties and they all have their head down focusing on their phones. I smile and wipe the avocado off of baby Ava’s lip as I am reminded to Look Up.
- Cleaner home. My home is cleaner since my time and energy that usually dwindles away online was put to the task of spiffing up my own environment. This added to my sense of peace and being grounded.
- More reading. I actually hadn’t read a book in quite some time, so this was a real plus. I have now read about 12 books this year alone, which is probably a 400% increase over last year. Remember all those books you’ve been meaning to read?
- Better perspective. I was able to take time to organize my day and my life. I was in charge, not my Facebook feed. (You can insert Twitter, Instagram, Email, or whatever is your favorite technology addiction here).
- Deeper Relaxation. It is not easy to describe, but I was able to decompress at a deeper level. I felt less anxiety even though I usually am a pretty calm person.
Myths of Social Media, Computers and Television:
- I need to post so others know who I am and what I am up to. This has become such a big deal, they even have a phrase and acronym for it; FoMO (Fear of Missing Out).
- I only check my phone or computer a few times a day. Many people are checking their Smartphones every 6 minutes or up to 150 times a day.
- I am less alone Click on the link to see a 4 minute video on the effects of social media on our relationships and life.
- My television helps me unwind. We can unwind in so many more healthy ways. Go for a walk. Talk with a friend or loved one about our day. Make a whole food meal. Tidy up your home and get prepared for tomorrow.
Breakaway For A Day – Tips for your own Digital Detox:
- Pick a day to Detox. Decide if the weekend or a weekday is best. Put it on your calendar and set a reminder for the day before.
- Notify your friends and family. My family and close friends now know I take “Tech-Free Tuesdays.” I post a message on Facebook and turn on my out of office on my computer so others know the plan.
- Create a way to deal with emergencies. I usually will accept calls just so I don’t worry that someone needed me and couldn’t reach me.
- Reduce your need to react and respond! Turn off alerts on your phone. Put away your computer. Unplug your TV.
- Decide what you want to do for your day. Have other things to do such as go for a walk, journal, organize a closet, read through that stack of papers you’ve been putting off, get a massage, pull weeds or plant seeds, draw or doodle, take a nap, cook up a great new dish or get together with a friend or loved one.
- Go for learning versus perfection. When we aim for perfection we rarely have fun. Keep it light by going for the learning. Take a shorter period of time if a full day feels daunting to you.
- Notice your response. Take time to journal. Notice any cravings and how you responded. Notice how you feel that day and the next day.
I know Michael Pollan said we shouldn’t eat anything our great-grandmothers wouldn’t recognize as food. I am starting to think we need to live a life more like our great-grandmothers did at least occasionally. A digital detox is one step in that direction.
Reprinted from an abbreviated article in Swell Magazine. Kathy is a registered nurse who retired at age 55 and is now exploring the adventures in life after work. Her interests in health, photography, travel, being green and minimalism led her to create her blog The 3rd Chapter. She is presently writing an eBook about Raw Cleansing as a Pathway to Health.
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I stop sitting with people whom I’m supposed to meet for coffee, when they turn to their phones and turn off their minds. Have coffee with your phone.
I also don’t have a cell phone on the weekends….and the world keeps spinning without me being connected. Amazing….
I like that cell-free weekend idea and hope to be able to try that sometime soon! Thanks for sharing Tom.
What a brilliant idea. I really need to try a digital detox. Sundays are probably best for me. I resisted getting a smart phone for so long and finally caved last year. Now I’m completely addicted and almost need an intervention. I finally turned off some of the notifications last week on the thing. It was constantly beeping, dinging and chiming. It’s enough to trigger adult ADD.
I hope your digital detox goes well. I continue to learn new things from simplifying my life and for that I am grateful.
Thank you. I need it. I have lots of room for improvement on the simplification path!
It’s a challenge, for for a day or two without smartphone or computer. Anyway, I really like your Tech-free topic.
Thanks River, It is all about balance and I am still trying to find my own balance between addictive online stuff and being present in the here and now.