I’m sure you have noticed on your Instagram feed that many of your favourite content creators have been taking time off from their accounts for a digital detox.
It’s rather ironic that we find out about these digital detoxes on social media, but maybe it’s a sign that we all need to be peeling ourselves away from our phones more often.
I had my first digital detox experience in October last year when my partner and I took a holiday to Crete. We’d both had a non-stop few months, and the Greek island was the perfect spot to recharge in the last of the Summer sun.
It wasn’t until we arrived that I decided to disconnect from my phone (aka the rest of the world!) and truly enjoy myself on holiday. From that point on, I left my phone in the hotel room.
One thing I learnt from this time offline is that it absolutely wasn’t the end of the world – my Instagram stayed as it was, friends and family were patient, and emails could wait. I’ll admit that at first it was tough – I would find myself subconsciously going to grab my phone whenever I had a quiet 5 minutes to mindlessly scroll through Instagram, but then I would remember that that was against the rules!
I have always felt like I have a good work/life balance, and that I can easily put my phone away when it isn’t necessary. But the digital detox was so eye opening and made me realise I was more reliant on my phone to keep my mind occupied than I thought. Yet by the second afternoon, I felt totally at ease.
As part of my job, and like us all, I take a lot of photos on my phone. But rediscovering the fun and creativity in using my camera was a real highlight. I spent hours lost in great books, met some great people, or simply sat, taking in the beautiful scenery. I felt like I was truly present.
It made me wonder, had I really been using my phone to mindlessly pass time whenever I had a spare moment? Had my attention span diminished to so little, that my phone was the only thing that entertained me? That I couldn’t just ‘be’ and had to ‘be online’? If so, this concerned me and reinforced the idea that digital detoxes are vital.
Most people will be checking their social feeds, email, messages or the news throughout the day. I have built a career on social media, so of course I think these platforms are brilliant at connecting people, allowing individuals to express their creativity and inspire a wider audience. However, we can all agree it can’t be heathy to be looking down at our screens all day every day.
I deleted Instagram for a week and this is how it made me feel
Taking week-long (or even longer) digital detoxes are worthwhile to reset and recharge, and to have a dramatic change in your mindset over that particular period. But this isn’t always achievable and if we really want to make a difference in the long run the true benefit will be in making small changes throughout your day-to-day life. Mini-Digital-Detoxes, if you like.
My advice on becoming more present is to put your phone away whenever you are in a social environment. Having a phone on the table while you’re out for dinner with friends is too tempting – put it in your handbag or coat pocket so you don’t even consider picking it up.
Similarly, it is important to disconnect from your phone as much as possible while you are at home. Home is a place to relax, quiet your mind and feel comfortable, so keep your devices in a drawer, or at least in a different room.
Find some moments throughout the week to block out some time to go without, and be wary of those moments, be it on the bus, an uber or cafes where you just know you’re going to reach for your phone. The Screen Time feature on an iPhone can be helpful to record how much time you are spending on your phone – and likely spark a motivation to use it less. And for my last piece of advice, it’s good to understand that emails can wait. Of course it’s important to respond and be efficient, but it’s unlikely you’ll need to respond to emails past your working hours.
So, try it out this week! Put your phone away when you know it isn’t necessary, get your head up and take in everything around you. You never know what you might see.