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.
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.
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!
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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