Tag Archives: relationships

How a Digital Detox let me connect with Loved Ones.

We rely on our phones for so much. But is it time you took a digital detox?

We rely on our phones for so much. But is it time you took a digital detox?

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.

Sound familiar?

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. 

Me and Louise relaxing away from our phones!

Me and Louise relaxing away from our phones!

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.

So no excuses. Switch off when you can so you can connect with those around you.

Lonely Heart? Alone does not have to mean Lonely.

 

Yes, you can be single and not get lonely.

Yes, you can be single and not get lonely.

As Love Island finishes and churns out another hot young celebrity couple, it seems that the world is obsessed with coupledom. Despite the rising numbers of singles, we are portrayed as clueless wing-men or crying into our tubs of Ben & Jerry’s night after night.  Even scientists say we are so lonely we will die young.   Thanks for all the bullsh*t. Turns out it is easy to enjoy being single without getting lonely. 

Now don’t get me wrong. I want a relationship. Many of us do. 

 It is just that I am not prepared to settle for the same toxic behaviours that led me to spending 15 years in the wrong relationship.  Feeling lonely with the supposed love of your life next to you is Hell.   Nope. It is going to take someone incredible to make me change my single status.  But let’s be honest.

Being Single does get lonely at times.

There were times after a bad day I longed to come home to someone.  I wanted someone that would listen and care about my goals. I needed to go out and talk to someone who completely respected who I was. Don’t get me started on those times where you just need to get laid. 

But as the saying goes, there is no point wasting time wishing.

The fact is that right now. You. The person reading this. Like me. Are Single AF.  It need not be a bad thing.  The last four years have been the happiest of my life. 

How?

I learned how being alone does not have to mean lonely.

Here is how I did it.

  1. Take time to Meet the new YOU.  

If you have been in a long term relationship, then you are used to running every decision past your significant other.  From what film to watch, to bigger decisions such as the impact of career moves. Over the years you will have compromised on your goals and values at times. Maybe parts of you feel watered down, weak and unloved.

Being single removes the validation that a decision is the right or wrong one.  That is scary I admit.  But it also removes any restrictions.  This is a good thing. It is a life-affirming thing.

Think about it.

You can now be unapologetically and authentically you.

You can now go for that promotion if you want.  You can go to that fancy restaurant. You can ignore the pots and go out for a walk. You can learn Italian. You can spend all day reading – or writing – that book. You can put yourself forward for the football team, or the local theatre group.   You can say no to that film and yes to that one. You can make the decisions as to whether you should invest in property, or a new business venture, or a holiday. There are endless possibilities and no one to answer to but yourself.

You call the shots,  and in doing so, you are discovering who you really are.

In building a life that makes you happy, you feel alive rather than lonely. So take time to try out new activities or work on that breaking those bad habits. Trust me, it will pave the way to a happier future whether you are single or in a relationship.

2. Adopt a furry friend.

Life never gets lonely with a furry friend.

Life never gets lonely with a furry friend.

One of the best things I did to beat loneliness was to adopt my cat, Luna. 

Even though my sofa has been wrecked and there is fur everywhere, I adore the endless loving purrs, head butts and cuddles.   There are countless animals in shelters that desperately need loving homes. It is a two way relationship that reminds you of what love is again. Even science says that having a pet around can reduce symptoms of depression and lower blood pressure.

However, maybe owning a pet just is not practical for you. Maybe you travel away a lot or you can’t have pets in your building.  Don’t worry! One of my friends signed up to Borrow My Doggy and now has a fun-loving friend to take on walks on his days off from being a GP. Another friend adores horses but her time and money is spent on her PhD currently, so she rides as often as she can at a local riding school.

Either way, animals are a fun distraction from the single life and are good for you too!

3. Expand your Social Circle.

One the biggest challenges I faced during my relationship breakdown, was seeing how small and stagnant my circle of friends were.

Now I love my friends to bits, but a break-up changes you.

You soon feel stymied by the same old routine with the same people.  I needed to meet new people who I shared my new-found interests with.  Fortunately I bumped into Stephen at a networking ‘do’. A few cocktails later I was signing up for my first free event.  

Three years later I have social life that makes my married friends turn green with envy. Just last night I was out with an amazing bunch of people  and chatting away as we sampled the exquisite menu at Tattu in Manchester. After a hard week, it was just what I needed. We still all chat about the memories from the various weekends away we have been on. More importantly, through Social Circle, I have met a great bunch of new friends who remind me how great life can be. 

Meeting new friends at Tattu in Manchester!

Meeting new friends at Tattu in Manchester!