I’ve been talking with some of my friends recently about a retreat I’m planning for next year and telling them how I’d like part of the retreat experience to be a detox from technology. Mmmmm yes, even the thought of it can make some people a little anxious!
Well, only hours after the words were out of my mouth our internet went down! It all began with a power cut, which the power company told us would happen and to be honest I was quite looking forward to. It gave me a good excuse to spend the day doing some gardening and catching up on all those things that needed doing away from the office. Hooray!
The next part I hadn’t bargained for and when the power returned but the internet didn’t, it wasn’t so much fun anymore.
At the time I was at my desk following up inquiries about classes and courses, sending emails, researching venues for a workshop and paying bills when everything ground to a halt.
Once I’d assured myself that the world wouldn’t come to an end if I was out of contact for a while I began to settle into a simpler existence. With phones and laptops, it’s always possible to do what you need to do, but it was obvious the Universe was testing me out, “practice what you preach and take this technology detox idea seriously.” After learning that our internet wouldn’t be restored for at least 4 days I set myself the challenge of keeping away from everything except urgent phone calls.
It’s not too hard to have a break from technology when you’re on holiday but it’s a little different in your own home. No Netflix, ouch that hurt, I’ve got some very good shows on the go! No social media, no emails, no browsing the web or flicking through FB on the phone. I think I missed the TV the most but I noticed over the next few days how my whole system began to relax and slow down. I’m not an avid phone browser nor do I watch a lot of TVs but to begin with I did find myself looking for something to distract me, there seemed to be a lot of emptiness and quiet that habitually I would have filled with technology that was now not available to me.
Then, about halfway through the second day, I began to enjoy it. I could feel my whole system, mentally, emotionally and physically recalibrating to this new reality and it felt fantastic! My day seemed to slow down, I felt more focused and relaxed as if I could literally feel my body and mind resetting and restoring.
So, why am I telling you this? Because I have always thought of myself as a disciplined and sensible use of technology, someone who doesn’t waste hours on Facebook and is happy to sit in a café waiting for my friend without browsing on my phone; so, I was very surprised at the mental, emotional and physical relief and regeneration I felt without technology stimulating my system. This suggests to me that what I thought was ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’ technological stimulation is way too much. It seems that our physiological systems are ramped up even though we think they are not.
On the first day of my detox, my hunger for distraction and entertainment was palpable. Our devices provide constant entertainment and can hinder our attention span and our ability to be happy with our own company.
As my whole system seemed to slow down, I noticed that my level of acceptance of things as they were and patience to trust and wait and see what happened increased. I enjoyed having less interference in the unfolding of my day and focussing on one or two things rather than many. Technology gives us instant information and means we can organize our lives, run our businesses and arrange social events anytime anywhere. This, of course, has huge benefits and unchecked can turn into impatience, distraction, and frustration.
Don’t get me wrong. Technology is a wonderful thing, it’s opened our world up in ways we could not have imagined thirty years ago, there are huge benefits to living in this technological age and as always it pays to keep things in balance.
Nurture your mental, emotional and physical health by giving yourself a regular technology detox
Our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual bodies are constantly trying to come back to equilibrium. To a place of balance, health and wholeness and sometimes 21st-century living makes it difficult to know when we have tipped the scales. Our ongoing health is dependent on us being mindful of our lifestyle habits. So, I’ve come up with some ways for you to gently detox from technology and enable your nervous system some soothing relief without disrupting your life.
15 Easy ways to gently detox from technology
- Carry a book with you so when you’re prone to grab the phone for some entertainment you have something more calming to amuse you.
- Turn off background noise (radio and tv) unless you are actively listening to it and enjoying it.
- If you’re going out for lunch or dinner turn your phone off as you enter the restaurant and put it away.
- Give yourself an hour each morning (minimum 30 minutes) before you turn your phone on.
- Be selective about the movies and programs you want to watch on television so you’re minimizing sitting in front of a screen for no good reason.
- Turn all screens off half an hour before you go to bed.
- If you walk or jog for exercise, leave your phone behind and enjoy being outside in nature.
- Go to bed without your devices!!! Studies have shown that even having a turned off phone next to your bed makes it harder for you to switch off and get a good night’s sleep.
- Pick the most convenient time of the week to have a totally technology free period.
- Set an alarm on your computer to remind you to move your body and take your eyes away from the screen every hour. You can find some very nice chime alarms online for a gentle reminder.
- Manage your emails in one or two hits rather than dipping into them randomly during the day.
- Limit what you have open on your computer to two things at any one time.
- Every week have a social media free day. Research has shown that browsing social media sights can contribute to anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. Give yourself a break.
- If you’re awake in the night, instead of reaching for your phone take some long slow deep breaths and relax.
- Be conscious of times when you are distracted by your phone rather than fully engaging with family or friends. Those moments will not come around again!
Thank goodness for technology it’s changed our world for the better in many, many ways and will continue to do so. And as you enjoy it’s many benefits remember to nurture yourself back to balance on a regular basis.
If you’d like to download the 15 Ways to do a gentle technology detox list here it is –