My New Year got off to a pretty poor start as I was struck down with a nasty vomitting bug. It knocked me off my feet for the best part of a week. However, two good things came out of it – number one my trousers now fit better and number two I enjoyed somewhat of a digital detox.
I’m not one for sweeping new years resolutions but I was thinking how beneficial it would be to set my phone down a bit more and stop mindlessly going from app to app and scanning the internet. I know I am over-reliant on my phone and spend far too much time staring at a computer screen (at work and in my own time). As it turned out, being sick meant I could do a digital detox quite easily. Just like I had no appetite for food, I didn’t really have an appetite for checking my social feeds or scanning ebay for bargains. I certainly didn’t wish to document my illness online or through insta-stories…because who really would give a crap?!
And so began my digital detox of 2018…in which I set my phone down, left my laptop unopened and concentrated on other things around me. It turns out, digital detoxing is good for the soul…and this is why…
Reading became about books
After a few days, as I started to feel a bit better and could stomach some food, I started reading…and not online articles or Facebook posts…but actual long-form content – books! I haven’t read a book since my holiday to Majorca in September where I read Judy Murray’s book Knowing The Score (and as much as I hate to admit it that holiday read was the first book I’d read all year). I am currently reading Seven Days of Us by Francesca Nornak after hearing reviews for it on the Simon Mayo Radio 2 Book Club. Next on my reading lists is Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe as I adored watching the brilliant Nick Nornby BBC adaption of the book on Netflix at the end of last year.
In the digital era, we’re getting caught up in reading a lot of short-form content…which can be great. But there is really nothing like getting absorbed by a book and discovering a new world. I missed the excitement of climbing into bed and getting caught up in a story. In recent years I climb into bed and mindlessly scan social media and check my emails for half an hour before going to sleep. Not quite as fulfilling as reading another chapter of a good book, I’m sure you will agree.
Movie night was special again
Another wonderful thing to come out of my digital detox was sitting and watching a film at night with my partner Phill. This was something we used to do alot of years back, but whilst Phill is always on at me to watch a film with him on the weekend I rarely do as I am either on my laptop blogging or scanning my phone and too busy to actually watch the film. But over the new year period we watched all the Harry Potter films…and I actually followed the storylines for once! Phill kept my phone out of reach so I wouldn’t be tempted to lookup information on the different actors (anyone else do that when watching a film?!).
Just like with reading, it felt so good to immerse myself in a story and not intermittently check my phone for updates. I used to love watching movies and had a far better attention span for them. But as my reliance on my phone has grown over the years, my ability to concentrate for long periods has gone out the window. Now, in future, movie nights will be a phone-free area…unless the movie is utter nonsense.
Family time got better
Once I stopped constantly looking at my phone I spent more time looking at my daugter Rose and watching her play and behave. I didn’t lift the phone to snap pictures of her. I just let us both be. I’m aware that Rose often sees me on my phone and is always gleeful when she gets her hands on my phone…probably because she thinks it’s my favourite thing and wants a piece of the action.
As a parenting and lifstyle blogger it is always so tempting to document alot of my life and put it online but sometimes you need to take a break from it all and just live in the moment. I have to say, I definitely felt better about myself when I wasn’t on my phone around her. And I know Phill also appreciated me not head down in my phone all the time. He’s definitely not as likely to scan his phone as much as me and I know he finds it rude when I am on my phone during coffee dates or when watching TV together. I will try my best to put my phone away in company and give people my undivided attention.
I felt calmer
As the days went by, I became a bit more chilled out about my digital detox. As a blogger who is actively on social media day-in, day-out you often feel you have to have a constant online presence if you are to engage people and encourage them to consume your content. I would worry that if I didn’t update my social channels at least once a day then I’ll be out of the loop and forgotten. But as the days mounted up, I found I didn’t care so much about updating people on my life. I rather enjoyed distancing myself with other activities and just being lazy at home.
I saved money
Yep, it turns out if you spend less time on your phone/tablet/laptop you spend less money! I do alot of my shopping online these days – grocery shopping, clothes shopping…buying bits and bobs on Amazon. Temptation is everywhere when you are online, and never more so with constant emails from your favourite retailers or brands. A digital detox might be just the thing you’ll want to do if you want to save yourself a few quid!
So there you have it…five ways in which I benefited from a digital detox! This year I am going to continually focus on the here and now by setting my phone down and spending less time online. Of course, I’m going to continue to blog and use social media and carry lots of tasks via digital applications because I like doing those things, but I will make a continued effort to be more mindful about when and how I get my digital fix. Is this something you want to consider in 2018? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.