Time to reboot with a digital detox

In Guest Blog by Elena Langtry

Carly Mason is a Freelance Business Developer and writer based in Ely Cambridgeshire. She has a passion for community enterprise which led to her becoming a volunteer for Happy Cafe Ely and the Director of Operations for Talking FreELY, two Ely-based mental health and wellbeing organisations.

We’re connected all the time, 24/7. It’s easy to let it take over your life. You never stop working when your phone notifies you every time someone emails you and with so many ways to contact people online, it’s difficult to switch off.

 A mobile phone is no longer a just a mobile phone. It’s work, a way to keep up with news, a window into the lives of your friends, colleagues and celebrities, your personal assistant and even your alarm clock.

 I’m not saying this is a bad thing, it’s incredible really. But it’s a source of stress for many people worldwide, myself included.

 I found myself answering emails late into the night, seeing life through social media, and not living in the moment, catching up with friends through Facebook posts rather than a phone call. It took me a while to realise that this was the source of a lot of my stress. Once I did, it felt like a weight lifted from my shoulders.

I decided that things needed to change, so a digital detox seemed like the answer. The rules I set for myself were simple: no social media, no emails, for 3 weeks. I switched off mobile data and all notifications, set an out of office on my email accounts and logged off of my computer.

 Like many people, I use these tools for work, so I chose to have a digital detox while on holiday. I’m not lucky enough to have a three week holiday every year (I wish!) so when I do this again, which I certainly will, I will try it over a weekend or perhaps limit myself to work-related use within office hours only, for a longer period of time. 

Week 1

This was difficult. A sense of panic set in quite quickly. Was I missing something? I had a nagging feeling that I was forgetting something and found myself picking up my phone and just looking at it. After just a couple of days, this feeling had passed and it became easier.

Week 2

It was like emerging from a dense fog. I found a sense of clarity and perspective. The world would still be there when I got back, as would my friends. Thinking ‘this would make a great Facebook post’ was replaced by thinking, my friend would really like this, I must tell her about it when I see her next.

Living in the moment became easier. I found I had more time for simple things like watching a bird out of the window, fascinating conversations with my husband and time to think.

I realised that I had to disconnect from my digital life to reboot and reconnect with myself. I found that I was able to connect with others more fully too. My mind wasn’t racing ahead, I could be present and listen.

Week 3

I slept really well. I didn’t even realise that by using my phone as an alarm clock I was inadvertently seeing notifications as soon as I woke, or even in the night when getting up to get a glass of water. With no notifications to worry about, even subconsciously, I found it easier to de-clutter my mind and drift off into a restful sleep.

Toward the end of the last week, anxiety slipped in. How full would my inbox be? How will I catch-up? But because of my newfound clarity, I was easily able to dispel those fears. My inbox had waited three weeks, another couple of days would make little difference.

What’s next

I’m glad I took the opportunity to do this, it has made a huge difference to my wellbeing. I’ve made some changes that I hope will stop me becoming overwhelmed in the future and so far, so good. I don’t use the internet after 9 pm to give myself time to relax my mind. No emails or social media for me on a Sunday, well, most weeks! I’ve also treated myself to an alarm clock so I don’t see my phone as soon as I wake up.

Being connected to the world is amazing, but it should not be at the expense of your wellbeing.

Connect with Carly on Twitter and Facebook

“My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in weakness”

“My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in weakness”