Technology has become so deeply ingrained in our lives that often we barely notice its impact. There have also been some studies showing the negative impact of the artificial light (aka blue light) generated from screens that can affect our moods and sleep cycles.
All these things got me thinking about my own dependence on technology and its impact on my own health. So, earlier this year I challenged myself to spend a full Saturday ‘screen-free ’. I assumed this would be a simple challenge to prepare for and I would wake up on Sunday feeling refreshed and like a new person after this digital detox.
I started Friday night by turning my phone and laptop completely off before bed. When I woke up the next morning I instinctively reached for my phone to check the time but remembered it was put away and it didn't really matter what time it was since I had no plans. I went for my regular walk but started looking for my phone again to listen to my audiobook then remembered that wasn't allowed. I spent the day reading (physical books), relaxing and running some errands and didn't miss my screens too much but it does show you how attached we are to them
I wanted to listen to music but since we don't have a cd player or radio (does anyone anymore?) and Spotify went against my rules for myself, that meant I either had to sit in silence or sing to myself. By dinner time I was ready to order from my takeout place but again that wasn't allowed! I had to *GASP* walk to the restaurant! Which ended up being (obviously), just fine.
Although the digital detox wasn't as much of a ‘life-altering spiritual experience’ as I had initially hoped it was refreshing and enlightening. I did realize how reliant on technology I was, especially my smartphone. I didn't realize how inconvenient it would be not to have it. I often don't buy data plans when I travel so I thought it would be as easy as that. So overall I would say that my experience was a success even with my minor ‘setbacks’. It’s also something I will be doing hopefully on a monthly basis so I came up with a few things to make it a bit smoother the next time around.
This outline should help you ease into a successful tech-free day (or full digital detox weekend if you're up for a challenge!)
Come up with a plan for your day
One mistake I made was not fully knowing what I wanted to do on my special ‘screen-free’ day. So whether you decide to take your family to the museum or art gallery, or you want to curl up in front of the fire or by the pool with a book you’ve been meaning to get to come up with an idea so that you don't end up alphabetizing your spices all day just to keep yourself occupied.
Let people know what you are doing and let them know they can call you in an absolute emergency
Most phones come with the ability to have a ‘do not disturb mode’ where you can ensure you won't be bothered but you can set it so that certain numbers can call through or if a number calls more than once it will ring through. This will help ease any tensions about emergencies. Letting people know avoids the issue of them worrying about you when you don't text or call back right away. We live in an age where everyone is contactable 24/7 and we seem to always expect immediate responses.
Prepare everything the night before
Set your phone up for the do not disturb setting and set yourself up for the day. If you plan to read, take a visit to the library or choose some books off your shelf. If you need directions somewhere, look them up and either write them down or print them out (who else remembers printing map quest directions!?). This way you won't feel like you need to use your phone or laptop ‘for just one little thing!”
Embrace the unknown
We are so used to looking things up the second we aren't sure about. Whether it's what a word means or the date of a significant event. Not knowing can be freeing and if you are really curious you can always write it down and look it up later
It's ok to surrender
Like any ‘challenge’ this is supposed to be fun and expand your outlook or way of thinking, however, if you feel yourself getting anxious or not enjoying yourself or you just really need to watch a movie to wind down its ok! As long as you tried maybe in a few weeks you can give it another go. Don't be too hard on yourself
So we are curious to hear! Have you tried going tech-free? What did you think? Share your stories in the comments section below.