Have you ever felt so tired and cranky that you are just completely joyless? I used to think it was the time of year or that business was getting on top of me. It was only when I read more about the effects of being glued to my phone did I realise that I really needed to switch off from the world and take a digital detox. I found it was the best way to reconnect with my loved ones, and myself.
Believe me it was a tough call.
After all I run a business and need to be able to answer emails and calls from members. My business is based on connecting people after all.
But I found myself scrolling through my emails instead of watching my favourite TV programme.
I found myself checking my phone, even briefly, whilst at dinner with friends and family which annoyed them intensely.
That all too familiar feeling of guilt and annoyance when the messenger bubble pops up. ‘Can’t you all just leave me alone’ I wonder.
A quick scroll through social media late at night when I couldn’t sleep doesn’t seem too bad, yet I kept waking up cranky and not looking forward to my day.
I was shocked to find that smartphone addiction is a thing. We rely on our smartphones for everything, from paying bills to connecting with family and even booking social circle events. I know people who liken misplacing their phone to losing a limb.
Yet, if we are not careful we can find ourselves hunched over our screens, taking in all the drama of other people’s lives and disconnecting from our own. It is damaging to our relationships and our emotional and physical health.
So I took action.
I vowed to take a digital detox.
Ironically, I used my phone to book a holiday for me and Louise to Malaga.
I delegated any Social Circle stuff to Cathy and my team of amazing hosts. I confess at times I did cave in and I did send a few emails only to get told forcibly ‘ thought you were on holiday’.
Whilst it was hard not reaching for my phone, after 24 hours I felt less stressed and got the best nights sleep in a long time. I found myself looking up as I explored the old towns with my wife, hand in hand. We got some good quality time together and found ourselves laughing and talking over our evening meals rather than looking at our phones.
It is the best thing I have done in a long time.
If you needed convincing as to why a digital detox may be good for you, then read this article for inspiration.
In the meantime, I have had some ideas of my own as to how I can maintain this sense of calm and not let my phone rule my life.
Switch off notifications.
Your phone constantly pinging causes you to reach for it constantly. We touch our phones a minimum of 80 times per day. Half of the notifications are not even important and cause you to lose focus. Change your phone settings so you only get notifications from certain apps.
Switch off an hour before bed.
The blue light in phones and laptops can have a disruptive effect on our brains, interfering with our sleep patterns. Further, energy and happiness can be quickly zapped by getting yourself embroiled in social media drama meaning the last thing we think about before we hit the sack is Julies latest brawl with the in-laws or Pete’s political standpoints.
Use your phones flight or do not disturb mode so no one calls. Leave it in another room and buy an old fashioned alarm clock. If you must have your phone near you at least use ‘night mode’.
Have a phone free day a week.
Easier said than done but if you have a day off from your laptop and phone then you will really feel that you are getting a break. You will boost memory, creativity and concentration for switching off so put your emails on auto respond and peel yourself away from facebook.
Imagine what you can do with all that free time? Perhaps read a book, have a lie in or connect with nature by going walking or cycling.
Put your phone on flight mode when you are with friends.
The saddest thing I saw recently was a family at a restaurant all glued to their phones. There is no excuse really. You only need one photo (if any) of your food and when everyone has arrived then put your phone onto flight mode and put it away.
If you are attending one of our events, then vow to put your phone onto flight mode and put it away so you can connect with like-minded people through good old fashioned conversation.