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A Digital Detox and What I Learned From Breaking Up With My Phone

July 15, 2016

Lately, the universe has been sending me some not-so-subtle messages. Namely, that my relationship with technology, and specifically my phone is in need of some work.

I think most of us can admit to being addicted to our phones –except those weirdos who don’t use smartphones– though awareness and doing something about it is a different story.

But apparently the universe was fed up with my lack of action and decided to take matters into it’s own hands. In the past few weeks I’ve lost my phone twice (not just in the black hole of my purse but legitimately left it on an airplane and in a restaurant) and then when that didn’t stop me from getting my phone back, I quite literally washed my phone.

A digital Detox and what I learned from breaking up with my phone. Lessons learned from when I said adios to technology and disconnected for a week.Yes, my phone went through a full cycle in the washing machine and came out squeaky clean though not at all functioning. Let’s just say my phone and I had a messy break-up.

I could have freaked out. But I didn’t. Perspective always manages to remind me that stuff is just stuff.

Thanks to the generosity of my sister I was able to replace my phone, but the message became overwhelmingly clear, a digital detox was urgent and necessary. I was determined to not let this new phone take over my life.

So I did what I thought the universe had been wanting from me all this time, I turned my phone off. For four days. And didn’t even attempt to get online.

A digital Detox and what I learned from breaking up with my phone. Lessons learned from when I said adios to technology and disconnected for a week.I should probably add that the circumstances in which I found myself (a cabin in the boundary waters of Minnesota) didn’t exactly make staying connected easy, but that certainly hasn’t stopped me in the past.

I can think of 2 other occasions since starting the blog that I actually went offline. Once was in Yosemite, where I didn’t bring any technology with me (and it was glorious) and Costa Rica, where one of my biggest regrets is spending way too much time trying to connect to wifi instead of just embracing the experience.

That’s actually crazy. In my 3.5 years of writing this blog, 1278 days and god only knows how many hours, I’ve only taken 8.5 days tech-free. No matter how much green juice I drink, HIIT workouts I complete and minutes of meditation I experience, a life glued to your phone is far from healthy.

So I went off the grid. I said adios to the internet, to Instagram and to checking the weather app 15 times a day. And here’s what I learned:

1. Saying goodbye was hard

After the fact, it made me sad how challenging I found it to turn off my phone. A part of me felt the need to announce it to the world, as though I owe it to anyone to explain my whereabouts and every move. I don’t and yet I still needed to declare on snapchat that I was saying goodbye to my phone. I have no other comments other than to say that this is totally fucked up and I hope I learned from this experience.

2. The internet didn’t break

Literally nothing happened while I was offline. At least nothing that required me to pay attention. Granted it was a holiday weekend so most people were off enjoying themselves, but when I signed back on, all I discovered was that about 15 people got engaged (thank you newsfeed-no I wasn’t one of them), everyone is still posting pictures of their meals on Instagram and The Healthy Maven seemed to be doing just fine. Just because I wasn’t on it, didn’t mean the entire operation stopped functioning.

3. I FINALLY had space to think

Remember the days when we didn’t have a smartphone and we actually had to use our minds to entertain ourselves? Nowadays, the concept of bored doesn’t mean much because we always have an app to entertain us. Anytime I feel my mind floating out of control, I can distract myself with technology and I rarely give myself the space to think and sort through these thoughts. I fully admit that this is unhealthy.

During my time offline, I went on a run. Without Spotify for music or podcasts to listen to, I was forced to start digging through some of my mind mess. And honestly, it felt amazing. It’s harder to use your brain than to have an endless stream of pictures to like and distract you, but sometimes the hard work needs to be done. I’m learning to turn off that instinct to reach for my phone and focus on my thoughts instead.

4. I’ve been completely overwhelmed since checking back in

I’m learning, but I’m far from totally reformed. While I didn’t immediately hop on my phone as soon as I got wifi, I did fall back into some bad patterns pretty quickly. And since then I’ve found less clarity, far too much stimulation and more stress. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I prefer to be less connected, but that doesn’t help the fact that I run an online business. I’m trying to sort through how to balance my personal wants and needs from those of my business but I recognize it will take some time. In the meantime, I’m trying not to feel tech guilt.

5. Our phones are smart but not smarter than us

I think we oftentimes give too much power to our phones (and technology in general) to control us. A car is a very powerful machine on it’s own, but we control the brakes to determine when to keep going and when to stop. If we took our foot of the break, we’d keep going and going until we crashed. I think the same thing happens with our phones. We forget that we control the brakes and we let ourselves keep going until we’re over-stimulated and over-connected. We need to remember that we call the shots and to recognize the signs when a break is needed. Don’t trust your phone to turn off. You control the throttle.

I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this post other than trying to encourage you to evaluate your relationship with your phone and technology. Health goes so far beyond our kitchen and gyms and while there are certainly some benefits to reap from our tech connections, we could all use a break every now and then.

I urge you to try out a digital detox and see how it feels. Maybe you’ll discover some points to add to this list. In the meantime, I’ll be on “Do Not Disturb”. Adios!A digital Detox and what I learned from breaking up with my phone. Lessons learned from when I said adios to technology and disconnected for a week.

Have you ever taken a digital detox? Do you think we’re too connected to our technology?

*All images by the incredible Bettina Bogar!

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  • Reply
    Danielle
    July 15, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Most recently, when we were in Alaska it was definitely a digital detox! No cell service out on the ocean! It was pretty nice – and I found I just forgot about it. The only challenging part was finding my parents on the massive boat – we spent a lot of time wandering around since we couldn’t just text them for their whereabouts! Haha. Usually when I go hiking on the weekends, I also am without service for awhile! The only bad part about that is safety – getting lost – but it does feel like a nice reprieve from the digital world.
    Danielle recently posted…My Vancouver #2: Eating my way through the city

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      July 15, 2016 at 11:32 am

      Yeah they’re are definitely ways it can be unsafe. When I went out on a run without anything I realized that if I got lost I’d be screwed eeeeek. All went well but the safety side of tech cannot be argued with!

  • Reply
    dixya @food, pleasure, and health
    July 15, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    oh dear..while i have not gone completely off the digital world, im definitely scaling back from the blogging world in general. instead of feeling the need to post and participate in million threads, im just focusing on connecting with readers, building relationship, and just concentrating on quality…and it feels good. like you said, the world is still the same, nth really changed and made no difference to my traffic.
    dixya @food, pleasure, and health recently posted…10 Fun Staycation Ideas in DFW

  • Reply
    ACKTIVE LIFE
    July 15, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    This is AMAZING! I love how sometimes I read your posts and they really resonate with me and get me to thinking that it is TIME to break a break from exercising, or technology, and just LIVE LIFE! Grateful for this reminder and so glad you learned some lessons from it…I know that this is exactly how I would feel too. I need to do this ASAP and enjoy this beautiful summer on Nantucket!
    ACKTIVE LIFE recently posted…EverlyWell #OwnYourHealth

  • Reply
    Hillary
    July 15, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    This post was refreshing and inspiring and great reminder to all.

    I LOVE the photos in this post too!!

  • Reply
    Sue
    July 15, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Great article! I did not grow up in the digital age but you’d never know it haha
    Talk about withdrawal??? Oh my, I’ll have to give this a try. I do find that
    sometimes I’m on information overload. Maybe it’s worse for me b/c I’m older, not sure.
    When my 3 boys were little I had
    a similar experience only there was no technology involved 😀

  • Reply
    Dronile
    July 15, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Davida, I totally agree with you! There are times when I have gone on “social media detoxes” and after coming back have thought “wow… I literally didn’t miss anything…” and it makes you realize how much better personal interactions are. I am trying to teach myself how to run a blog, and create a community without getting sucked in longer than I want to. It’s so difficult because of how attached to technology we have become!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      July 19, 2016 at 9:29 am

      I completely agree. Especially when you have a blog it’s incredibly challenging to set those boundaries!

  • Reply
    Cassie
    July 16, 2016 at 12:40 am

    I’ve found that at least one or two hours a day without my phone and looking at any digital screen is so liberating. I spend those hours walking, reading, hanging out with family and friends or just exploring the city by myself!
    Cassie recently posted…Pea Turkey Bed (high protein + gluten free)

  • Reply
    Beverley @ Born to Sweat
    July 18, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Loved this Davida, and how real you are with us and with yourself.
    I was up in Northern BC last week and had NO wifi/data for 2 days straight. Strangely enough I didn’t mind it at all, and almost preferred it. When I got back to civilization and full service, I was so overwhelmed with Instagram, blog comments, Snapchat stories, etc. Breaks are always good, but it also almost made it more terrifying when it had to end hah.
    Beverley @ Born to Sweat recently posted…The Lazy Girls Lower Ab Workout

  • Reply
    @linleyshands
    July 18, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    PREACH it, girl. When I start feeling like a zombie, that means it’s time to get rid of my screens for a while. <3
    @linleyshands recently posted…VIDEO: Chocolate Peanut Butter Brown Rice Crispy Treats

  • Reply
    Ange // Cowgirl Runs
    July 19, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    I’m such an all-or-nothing person. I’m either 100% ON THE INTERNET, or I go visit family and don’t check my email for 3 days.
    It’s good for a detox, but also isn’t entirely balanced.
    Truthfully, when my blog hosting hit the fan last week, I really appreciated the break. I didn’t have comments to check on or reply to, or posts to write, since it was broken and I just needed to wait. As much as I hate to admit it, it was kind of nice…
    Ange // Cowgirl Runs recently posted…How to Switch Blog Hosts

  • Reply
    Rick N
    December 28, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Davida – I totally agree with point 3 – I think it may be the most important overall. When I needed to spend time being creative I found myself constantly checking my instagram, AdSense, Amazon and Analytics stats – useless! I was losing sight of what I had started on (a health and stretching blog).

    I now force myself to put my phone away while writing and researching.

    One thing you didn’t mention which I think is worth noting. Aside from the detox time it is very important to keep the phone away from you at night! Don’t keep it on your bed stand – keep it plugged in in the kitchen, foyer – anywhere but the bedside. There is no need for our phones to be interrupting our precious sleep!
    Rick N recently posted…Ultimate Guide to Taro Bubble Tea

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 28, 2016 at 12:53 pm

      Such a good point! It’s definitely something I’m working on. I also need to get an alarm clock so I don’t use my phone as an alarm!

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