Week 40, the week of the digital detox.
Generally in this day and age you don't realise quite how much time you spend reliant on technology. I was lucky enough to have a childhood knowing the joys of spending time drawing and reading, getting sucked into Harry Potter books, playing in the garden, going for walks and doing crafts with my mum. I only received a secondhand sort of brick mobile as a teenager from my dad, and still the only things to entertain you were 10p texts and snake. Without technology I would not be where I am today - I honed my skills as a designer using photoshop since I was 13, I also have my long term relationships with my partner and cross continent friendships thanks to the internet. I am grateful. But sometimes being constantly connected can be a bit much, constantly checking Facebook to see what's happening, seeing if emails have come through in the evenings, doing work till the early hours when it's crunch time and checking my phone as soon as I wake up. It doesn't exactly feel healthy. We need space to breathe, to process, to connect to reality, to think and have headspace, to be bored. With boredom comes ideas, and with ideas come innovation.
That is why this task felt really relevant. To bring me back to that time of play and learning, make sure my mind feels open to experiences rather than tinted by the need to check my phone. The digital world comes with its long list of very helpful pros but not 24/7.
So what do we gain by doing a digital detox? It helps us tackle some of the addiction we feel to technology for starters. Addictions are never really good - addictions to technology impact the way we function in the world, driving can be impacted by the desire to check a message or an alert, it hinders feelings of connection in our relationships (there's nothing more rude than having dinner with someone on their phone during the meal) and mostly addictions can really interrupt our daily lives.
Being on your phone or computer before bedtime can also impact your sleep negatively. The use of the blue light on screens stop us from feeling sleepy as it inhibits the production of melatonin which regulates our sleep patterns.
Research has also shown that a healthy or reduced amount of time spent on social media can also help tackle feelings of anxiety and stress. We see these perfectly curated worlds from other people and feel the need to live up to these high standards, which isn't a full look at someone else's reality and which is just stressful. You do you, dears. You do you.
HOW DID IT GO?
This last week has been great! It was very helpful that for half of the week I was on holiday and my data didn't work at all. On Monday I stopped work at a normal time and spent time with a friend playing Tarot cards, very silly and very spooky. Tuesday was very stressful, I had a lot to finish before we left on Wednesday so that was a bit of a fail. I was up until 2am and part of that was sorting out work and sorting out emails. Day 2 fail.
On the Wednesday we left for Portugal, no internet on the flight - I read. The last time I read a book I think was January. Once we landed I discovered my data didn't work, so spent my time on the rest of the journey playing with my camera and making conversation with my partner. As soon as we had got ourselves settled we cooked a meal together and for the first time in two and a half years we ate dinner together at a dining table (we don't have space for one in our apartment). It felt a million times more luxurious than any meal we could have had out together, enjoying something we had prepared together and just being with each other without technology.
Thursday I swam in the sea and enjoyed the sun, we had dinner out and had a conversation with people next to us while eating. It was really nice to make a connection with strangers again without the need for technology. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were more of the same. Exploring, enjoying the world around us. The only times my phone or my laptop were really used were to take photos, look up directions and things to do, and look at an offline map while out and about to navigate. It was great to not want or feel the desire to be on my phone 24/7. Albeit having a holiday to distract me, I'm sure at home it would have been harder. We're still on holiday and I even feel a bit guilty writing this now, knowing I could be taking time away from my computer because I'll have more than enough time on it in London.
I've had a lot of thoughts swimming like little fish around my mind recently, I tend to get a bit swept up in the ocean that's swirling around in there and unless I get it out in some way or spend time doing my own thing, it never really starts to make sense and I feel quite calm and clear right now. I think I'll have to make sure that at least a couple of nights a week are computer and phone free from now on. It feels a bit like freedom for your brain. I can write, use the time to create things for me, to think. It'll be well worth it.