Personal Development

Unplugging from the world with a Digital Detox

Recently I have had an increased awareness of the reliance I have on the Internet, in so many parts of my life. Now… as an online entrepreneur I recognise the huge benefit’s of the information era. Without it this blog wouldn’t reach a global audience, nor could I run a part-time online business around my full-time job, and I wouldn’t be able to connect with my international friends … the list can continue on and on.

However, I have a feeling that the technology revolution is being abused by using it for literally everything! Let’s think… how many times have you said or done the following in the last two weeks.

  • ‘Oh I don’t know… I’ll just Google it’
  • Scrolling mindlessly through Facebook
  • Watching cat videos for a quick giggle
  • ‘I wonder how many likes I’ve got’
  • Spying on celebrities lives
  • Pinning every home DIY idea on Pinterest
  • The list of unhealthy habits can continue

So the first step is awareness, the second is doing something about it! As we had a holiday to Fuerteventura booked I thought this would be the perfect time to do a digital detox, escape from being constantly connected in order to break the habit and create a healthy relationship to WiFi.

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As I arrived at Manchester airport, the aeroplane mode was switched on and stayed on for a whole 7 days. I guess I best tell you what I found.

The time. How many of us go to look at our phone purely for the time? But then get distracted by the numerous notifications on our home screen, which you just ‘have’ to read. To then 10 minutes later forget you only actually meant to check the time. The old school invention of the watch… literally is timeless. Putting my beautiful Olivia Burton watch on this holiday (a gift from my best friend Hannah) helped me not reach for my smart phone when all I needed was the time.

Often there are times on holiday when you simply are doing nothing. This is a rarity in our hectic corporate lives where there is a need to be doing something every second of every day in order to get everything done, in the limited 24 hours a day we have. So I found the time I was most likely to pick up my phone was in times of nothing-ness (I don’t want to use the word boredom as that word has negative connotations which are holiday was not). My replacement for surfing the internet was reading. I took away with me two books The Compassionate Mind and Personality Plus which I thoroughly enjoyed. Sometimes I chose not to read and instead engaged in simple deep breathing mindfulness exercises to appreciate my surroundings.

With tired eyes on the plane journeys the mister leant me his Beatz headphones to listen to the audio books I had downloaded on my iPod (and to drown out the sound of screaming children). In 8 hours of travelling I listened to ‘How to stop worrying and start living‘ by Dale Carnegie and an inspiration talk by¬†Nick Vujicic named ‘No arms no legs’ all without opening my eyes. Great time leverage there!

I was listening to a Ted Talk by Tania Mulry named ‘Need a digital detox?‘ who said it’s been discovered that the feeling you get when you feel your phone vibrating in your pocket and it’s not even there is the same feeling amputee’s get when they lose a limb. The Phantom Limb Syndrome we experience shows how we see our phones as an extension to our body!

Since returning the UK and plugging back into the world, I have questioned myself much more and noticed the technology addiction all around me. There is genuinely nothing worse than looking around in a restaurant to see a family of four at the table with children being kept quiet with over stimulating iPad apps and the parents sat staring mindlessly at the phone probably posting about the ‘incredible time’ there having not talking to one another.

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I have always been known as the ‘difficult to get hold of’ person with phrases such as ‘what’s the point in having a phone if you don’t answer it’ being thrown at me. But I like it that way… I tend not to drop everything in that instant moment to pick up a call as I value the task I’m doing more. If it’s an emergency a text will follow to say ‘ring me asap’ to which I can prioritise that over my task. Often people are offended if you don’t reply instantly when you are ‘Online’ or ‘Active’ however, these streams are used for my business and I’m technically working.

I worry about people behind closed doors. Your own lives and your 800 Facebook ‘friends’ lives look so perfect only highlighting the best bits. However, this gives a distorted view of what life is like, after all without the occasional low you wouldn’t notice the highs. Although I definitely do not want to be exposed to negative moaning status’ I just worry about those who are having a rainy day when everyone else is enjoying the sunshine. We can often feel so alone, like digital hermits, holding out for so many ‘Likes’ to increase your confidence and self-esteem – it can be so dangerous to our mental health. I find it interesting that even Steve Jobs set strict limits on his children’s gadget time. The creator himself obviously see’s the hidden dangers too.

So what can you do to get the most out of technology without it taking over your life:

  • Use social media to organise seeing your friends and family in person – embrace face to face, belly to belly connections
  • Take the time to appreciate the small moments around you
  • Turn off your notifications so you’re not constantly interrupted – Multi-tasking is a myth!
  • Have a purpose for your phone visit – get in and get out!
  • Set limits for checking in with your social media streams so you don’t get trapped scrolling for hours.
  • Leave your phone in your handbag, another room or leave it behind – give it a go!
  • Wear your watch so you don’t have extra temptations when looking at your phone purely for the time.
  • Try a filter free one shot only instagram picture
  • Unplug an hour before bedtime to help you get a better nights sleep
  • Use aeroplane mode when you need time to focus
  • Create a self-care ideas list to work your way through when your bored
  • When you are posting and commenting add value to people’s lives

‘Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you’ – Anne Lamott

Go the Distance

Chloe