Hi pretty people!
If anyone follows me on twitter or instagram, first of all thank you, and second of all, you will of noticed that on Christmas eve I turned off my phone until new years eve. Five full days.
There are countless studies done and articles written about how checking your e-mails less will make you happier, how we are addicted to our phones, how we need to ‘detox from technology’ and cut back on how much we use and depend on it for the benefit of our mental health.
During my first stay in St Pats Hospital there was no wi-fi, and I thought I’d become totally detached from the world. But it turned out to be a huge eye opener. Yes it was odd for the first while, I didn’t know what to do with my newly discovered free time, and I swear, the repetitive strain injury in my thumb from ‘sliding to unlock’ healed right up!
But it also gave me a huge sense of freedom and peace. There was no panic when it came to replying to emails or texts, I didn’t jump every time it beeped, I even noticed I stopped bringing it to the table at meal times. I also began to notice how everyone else was, more often than not on their phone, and how stressed people were as a result.
Fast forward a year, and I’m feeling the stress in college at the moment and notice I’m reaching for my phone as a reflex, an outlet for my nervous energy. The irony of it is though is its probably making it worse. Ironically enough I realised how much I depended on my phone as one evening I couldn't think of anything to do when my mam was using my phone to watch a movie. I was reading an article in Vogue, which I'd had for a few weeks, but had never gotten around to looking at it. The article was about people who were becoming socially unbearable from over use of their phones, and were so busy recording their lives and tweeting their every move they forgot to actually live life.
I wanted to do some good (how cliche!) for other people's mental health, as well as my own. I'm connected with a charity Walk in my Shoes, which raises awareness of the issues surrounding young people's mental health. I asked people to make a donation as a sort of 'sponsorship' and to help raise funds and awareness.
For the first day, I kept thinking in terms of tweets rather than thoughts, which simply reinforced how much I needed the detox in my mind!I didn't actually miss it much, but I was sick with a kidney infection and panned on the couch, so I'm not sure if that counts. On Christmas Day, I was thinking about how I would fashion my photos of my presents, rather than taking the time to appreciate what I'd gotten and the wonderful family around me. It continued to strike me how much my life, even though I thought I didn't buy into social media, revolved around it. I usually sleep with my phone under my pillow to use the app Sleep Cycle, and listen to rain or something to put me to sleep, but I actually found I slept better in the silence, and don't need anything to help me drift off. Now my phone is at the other side of my room on silent with a regular alarm; and I never use it while in bed.
I was noticing other things too. My eyes didn't burn, and my folks commented on how they looked brighter. I also noticed I'd more time to, well do stuff. I read a book that I bought and left sitting on my shelf for months. I watched movies properly instead of half watching them, half watching my phone. After two days I found my concentration improved and I didn't have such stiff neck. I was more inclined to take an interest in things around me, and bought loads of books for the first time in ages:)
By the time day five was coming up, I wasn't actually looking forward to switching on my phone again. I missed my Yoga Studio app and my Head Space app, but now I don't take them for granted and use them every day.
Turning your phone off is good for your mental health!!
I have found myself slipping back to old habits, but I'm more aware of it now. I try to avoid bringing the phone around the house with me and will not bring it to the dinner table.
I would definitely definitely recommend that everyone, even just for a few evenings a week, put the phone on flight mode, or just turn it off. With more hotels, such as The Westin in Dublin, doing technology free Wellbeing Weekends, technology detoxing will become more popular and fashionable than ever! I do feel it's inevitable that you have to interact with technology and social media, but I think there's a balancing act to be done. That's something I'll be continuing to work on in 2015.
If you decide to give it a try, I'd love to know how people get on. Does anyone think they have a good balance between technology and life?
Look after yourself and each other:)
www.walkinmyshoes.ie Link to the charity 'Walk in my Shoes' where you can find out more and make a donation.