What I Learned from My Digital Detox

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I’ll admit it: I’ve done things with my iPhone that I shouldn’t have!

 

No, not bad, dirty things. How could your mind even go there? I am an Upstanding Woman!

 

I’m talking about those other things. Like taking my phone into the bathroom with me. Or sleeping with it under my pillow. Or turning it on the moment I woke up. Or checking it often for notifications, after posting a new Facebook status update. Or aimlessly searching the web whenever I had a free moment.

 

At one point or another, I’ve been guilty of all those — and more!

 

So when the teacher of the mandala painting class I’m in suggested that all the students try a “digital detox” —  the better to create our art with more clarity, energy, and focus — I scrunched up my face and shook my head.

 

I was like: No way. Nu-uh. In your dreams, woman. Impossible!

 

In brief, she wanted us to refrain from using our computers and smartphones for an amount of time that would constitute a stretch for us.

 

So it could be the weekend; it could be a day; it could be three hours, two hours, 20 minutes, or what have you!

 

The digital detox was to be reasonable, but at the same time, it was to challenge you and give you ample, unclouded head-space. As opposed to being Plugged. In. Every. Damn. Moment.

 

Right away, I used my expert analytical skills to determine that this assignment sucked. It was not only unrealistic, pointless, cruel, and unnecessary — it was also RIDICULOUS!

 

And yet, a little voice inside of me whispered: Do it.

 

Because I knew (felt) deep down inside that my relationship with my phone was indeed becoming a little more intimate than I was comfortable with! 

 

Not like it was taking over my life or anything. I wasn’t that over-the-top with it!

 

But I noticed that I thought about my phone a lot. Like, always wondering if I had any new emails or notifications. And that kinda started to creep me out a bit.

 

You know that Buddha quote, “We become what we think”?

 

Well, one day, I was out at a restaurant with my husband. I pointed out to him that every single person there was on their phone — either talking, texting, or surfing the web. And even though there was something amusing about it, it was also a little depressing. 

 

These people were all there with others — children, friends, family, co-workers. 

 

Yet they were all so pre-occupied, so hypnotized, by these tiny glowing screens within their hands.

 

Anyway, my husband started joking that everyone was going to disappear into their phones one of these days. Like, just get sucked in and never heard from again. (Become what we think.)

 

We’d wake up — or, rather, the insects and animals would wake up — to find a quiet, barren world with plenty of phones, but no people.

 

Anyway, back to the detox:

 

I took the challenge. Yes, I was downright disgusted by it, but I took it. I like challenges, and I’m always one to try and poke some fun at the status quo, so I went for it.

 

I decided that I would only check email and social media TWICE a day. Once at the beginning and once at the end.

 

On the first day, I often had a strong urge to reach for my phone, but I took lots of deep breaths. I checked a few more times than I was supposed to, but it was still 70 percent less than before!

 

On the second day, I checked maybe three times. Without question, the urge was still there, as if a wild animal were scratching away at my insides, dying to break free.

 

But on the third and fourth day, something happened. Something strange. Bewildering. Delicious.

 

I — just — didn’t — care — anymore.

 

That feeling of wanting to keep on top of all my friends and family and clients, of not wanting to miss out on anything, was gone. No more itch. No more urge.

 

And it felt pretty damn good.

 

Liberating, actually. Energizing. Wildly exciting, even.

 

I got more done. Moved with more purpose. Created with greater joy. Felt different parts of my brain being woken up.

 

Nowadays, during those times when I have a free minute or two, instead of picking up my phone to do some aimless reading, I simply pick up a good book.

 

Nowadays, instead of picking up new emails every 40 minutes and responding to them right-that-second, I pick them up twice a day and efficiently blast out responses within more relaxed windows of time.

We need to stop dividing our attention. Instead of looking at our phones when we’re having conversations or spending time with the people we love, we MUST put them away.

Seriously: It can ALL wait.

 

Because when it comes right down to it, at the end of your life, are you going to regret that you didn’t spend as much time checking your email and social media accounts as you would’ve liked?! Probably not.

 

However, you will most certainly regret the time you neglected to truly look into the eyes of and be present with your loved ones because you were too busy staring at your phone.   

 

And although I know full well that the assignment was supposed to be a temporary digital detox, just to give us an extra jolt of energy and creativity, you know what? I’m gonna try to stick with it.

 

Sure, days might arise when I’m working with others on a project and I need to respond to emails right away, but that’s okay.

 

As long as I’m gentle with myself, and I understand that things will come up to disrupt my plans from time to time, I won’t freak out about it. Interruptions to my sustained “detox” will always occur. Exceptions, off days, chaotic times.

 

And that’s fine. Despite that reality, I intend to press onward like a stubborn lunatic.

 

A stubborn, relaxed, healthy, joyful lunatic!

 

***

 

If any of the above resonated with you, please leave me a comment below!

 

Let me know if you’re a constant email/social media checker like I was. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try out a digital detox for yourself. You don’t have to commit to doing it forever. Just pick a goal that challenges you, and go for it.

 

Fair Warning, though: Once you try this detox, you might get addicted to all the Clarity, Peace, Electricity, and Happiness that floods your way. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

 

6 Comments
  • Evan
    Posted at 23:42h, 16 October

    Love the idea Rhoda. I’m about to go on Fall Break from my school and I plan to try it. Now it may be a bit easier, because I’ll be at the beach, but I look forward to the idea of just spending two parts of my day in the screen during break, and three (because I’ll need a lunch time check-in) when I get back to school. Thanks for this much needed detox idea. The world can wait; Especially the digital one. I have a feeling it’s not going to go anywhere when I’m not checking it.

    • Rhoda Jordan
      Posted at 06:39h, 22 October

      Have a great Fall Break! So happy you’re going to try the digital detox. I hope it’s easy to implement when you get back to school too! I’m still keeping at it, and I feel GREAT. Enjoy the beach! xo

  • Gothbunny
    Posted at 16:25h, 17 October

    I have been doing that as much as possible over this last month, I am just bored with it and felt like it has been draining my life away. I still have soooo much I have to do online like work and school but other then that I don’t get on there every few minutes to check Facebook or my personal email. I check in once or twice a day and see what is happening and try to move on from there. If I want to be plugged in I can go play a video game with one of my boys or even just sit with them while they play, I have books I can read for me and to my kids not including all of the great things like laundry and dishes that need to be done daily. I don’t have the best of energy levels yet to get all the things done that I need to do and if I waste some of it on FB or surfing the web then what kind of example am I setting for my kids? I love that you are doing this Rhoda and getting the conscious thought out there for others to realize as well!!!

    • Rhoda Jordan
      Posted at 06:43h, 22 October

      YES. And I love how you mentioned the whole example you’d be setting for your kids!! It’s SO true. Also, I want to be as available and present as I can for my little one. That’s so great you’ve been staying away for the past month. Keep it up!!! xo

  • Denise Dare
    Posted at 01:20h, 02 November

    You are reading my mind, friend!

    I’ve been endeavoring to set aside specific times to check in digitally rather than allow it to dominate my attention…

    You’ve inspired me and encouraged me to keep focusing on what’s really important: being present and really in the now with the people I love.

    Thank you for this radical reminder! We all need it! 🙂

    • Rhoda Jordan
      Posted at 05:13h, 03 November

      That’s great Denise!! You’re so welcome. I love how we are on the same page. Xo