In Need of a Digtial Detox?


I don't always have the healthiest relationship with technology. Endlessly scanning social media sites. Incessantly checking emails. Texting, calling, Face-timing. Using the laptop in bed. Constantly connected, and not on a personal level. Harvard Medical School scientists have found that switching off from technology every so often can offer a myriad of health benefits from physical to mental health. I decided to embark on a "digital detox" and exploring what else I could do if I 'powered down' for a day.

No TV.

No iPad.

No laptop.

No iPhone....the real killer...and yes I broke this one, just a little!

It reminded me of 'Earth Hour' where you light candles and switch off all technology including lights. Or one of those TV shows where they live like Colonial times.

For a while, I couldn't STOP thinking about IT. That is, who was calling me, which TV show I was missing, what people were doing on Facebook!

But, then I reminded myself that fifteen years ago no one had a mobile phone and it was surely possible to unplug for a day. Wasn't it?

And, this is what I discovered...

Time. Glorious time. Lots of available time to do all the things I actually really enjoy, like...

  • A more meaningful catch-up with my girlfriend. I wasn't checking my iPhone every two minutes for a message or work email. Instead, I was engaged in our conversation and what she had to say. And I learned more things about her. Things I never knew. Things I wouldn't have learned if I had my iPhone on me. From now on I am going to remember when I am with my friends to tuck my phone away.

  • Swimming in the ocean for as long as I wanted without worrying about how many emails I had banked up, or if I had missed an important call. And what did I realise? It can WAIT! It doesn't have to be actioned immediately, all the time. The world isn't going to end if I miss a few emails!

  • Reading a book that I had put off for a while. And without any distractions! Just bliss. I questioned why I didn't read all the time, and I made a pact with myself to do it much more often.

  • Meditation, a re-connection to the earth...okay perhaps that's going to deep, but I did become less task oriented and more people oriented. I sat and drank coffee without answering emails. I exercised, and then lay on the couch doing nothing. I slowed down and allowed myself to get bored. It was so very relaxing...just doing nothing...

It also got me thinking. In what other ways could I lower my digital footprint?

I switched my email and calendar alerts off. I usually leave it on so that while I am working I am alerted to every new email. I flick between the windows on the screen about 30 times every hour - and I am always on a permanent 'high alert' state, complete with an unnatural heart rate.

I booked a remote holiday destination for our next break. I enjoy hitting a 'dead zone' when I am on holidays, with low or no connectivity. My husband Brad on the other hand can't help himself. "I'm just going to get a drink honey, would you like one?" 20 minutes later when I am baking hot and in desperate need of a water I find my husband crouched behind a couch doing a work email.

The key, I think, it is to find a remote holiday destination with no phone or Internet coverage.

I am going to try and commit to a "digital Detox" one day a week. From my experience, nothing terrible happens when I disconnect for a day. At worst, I missed a couple of social invites, and at best I missed a couple of tele sales calls.

The trade off is a better quality of time with those people I do socialise with on that day.

Would you be willing to disconnect to reconnect? What do you have to lose? I'd love to hear about your experience.