The digital detox: how I went

So as you may know over the Christmas break I decided to have a complete break from all online life where I spend so much of my days, weeks, years. I was feeling literally sick to death from it. Before Christmas when we were so busy Rob and I would collapse onto the couch and scroll, endlessly scroll as the hours and nights went by. It was pure escapism for us both, I could sit and watch Insta stories over and over again…one into the next…people I know and so many that I don’t, but somehow ended up following over the years and the mindlessness of it was literally making me feel woozy. It was like overloading on too much sugar or carbs, the initial hit is food and then it just doesn’t satisfy, but I had become addicted and around and around I would go.

So I declared to Rob that I was having a break over Christmas when we were away. My phone was going away and I hoped that his would too. I just needed to turn it off, not go on at all and completely recharge and attempt to rewire my brain. I decided there would be nothing. No blogging. No social media. No nothing. My phone was going to be used as just that: a phone. To text or call. I allowed myself to look up the weather app (because hello I am obsessed and surely knowing when the barometric pressure is falling doesn’t hurt anyone). I put up one last Insta post, hid the apps into a separate folder on my phone rather than the usual spots that my hand went to automatically, and that was it. For 11 days.

So how did I go?

Well I have to say, it was easier than I thought. I mean I know this is hardly rocket science and how hard can it be? But for someone who makes a living from being online, and trying to keep up with it all, all the time, it was easier than I thought. I was so interested that once my hands couldn’t find the usual spots on my phone where the usual hits for Insta or Facebook were, and were hidden, it made me stop and just give up. Going off auto pilot and making our brain think “what am I doing this for?” made such a difference for me.

I used my phone as it’s meant. A talking device! Catching up with family on the phone as I drove into town to get supplies, replying to texts. I loved that some people still sent me important things like the Kardashian Christmas shots…

Or the Sandringham Christmas Day service…

Or platters that they had whipped up…

And occasionally I would text someone to ask what was going on, but honestly, the majority of the time I couldn’t find my phone and I didn’t care. Instead of snapping that or this, I just looked at it, and moved on! If I went for a run but didn’t Instagram it, did it really happen? It does. Who cares! My phone would last a few days without being charged! Can you imagine?! I spent so much time reading and with the kids and talking to Rob, and colouring in, it was just so good.

Having gone back onto my phone since I quickly got my hit and scrolled through to see what everyone had been up to…I mean it had been 11 days and usually if I go a few hours without looking, I gorge. But nothing much had happened. Christmas, summer, nothing amazing and all could be checked in not much time at all. Of course I am under no illusions that my habits will change all that much, like I said without it I have no work, but I sure as shit am not going to waste so much TIME on it. So much wasted time. SO MUCH.

Interestingly Rob hasn’t been back onto Instagram, and I’m not sure he will for a while. He has loved the break from it all too, doing a little reading, definitely spending more one on one time with the kids that have LOVED it. Me too. I have been getting less cranky (well I think so at least) as I would look over at him with his head stuck in his phone reading and getting so angry that he was so STUCK in it. Perhaps angry as I knew I did the same and I wanted things to be different for us.

Do you know what a tangle Facebook got that I hadn’t been onto it for 11 DAYS. It kept sending me emails…a couple every day asking me that it seemed I was having problems logging on (no I wasn’t) just click this email Beth and you will be back in no time! (no thank you) did you see that this person has just uploaded this photo you are missing out on (great, I’ll see it some time), honestly it was NUTS the endless harassing panicking I was done with it!

It wasn’t that long ago that smart phones and social media weren’t even a thing. Certainly not when Daisy as born and now look at us. Heads stuck in phones. Everything available ALL THE TIME. Want to know that name of that thing, look it up! Want to escape on holidays, follow that hashtag. Social media is a wonderful thing that can connect us and bring us together but boy has it changed the way our brains work and function and how we behave socially now. I’m so done with the mindless scrolling. SO done with it. I want to try to keep reading, think creatively, not get stuck in a pokies loop around and around pressing buttons waiting for something to happen. I waste so much time, perhaps under the guise of work, when really it’s just another form of junk.

I’m not going to make resolutions to lose x amount of kilos or change the way I eat for the time being, but I’d really like to stop the scrolling for a bit. Who knows how long it will last, but the break certainly showed me everything that I am missing out on (the real world where we live) and what I’m not.

And I am 100% across all weather patterns if anyone has any questions.

Have you tried to have a break over the holiday period?
Anything you are afraid of?
How did you find it?
How can we try to re-wire our brains again?

Comments

  1. YES! home with 3 children and 1 stuck on the boob alllll the time I find myself not even being able to walk into another room without the crack-box that is my phone… I can’t remember the last night I did a breastfeed without the phone in 1 hand… time to change this! For me, its contact with the outside world… another adult at the end of a message thread… I think I will slowly detox by only allowing myself facebook/insta/snapchat at the end of the day…. small steps..

    • This is me too – breastfeeding a newborn and have a toddler but just feel sick at the amount of time I am mindlessly scrolling looking at nothing useful and often buying sh*t I don’t need! It’s hard though when it feels like it’s my only link to the wider world!

      I’ve moved FB and Insta to a separate folder and am going to look at them twice a day only.

  2. I’ve just disabled my insta account because I’m addicted and it’s not serving me well. Social media and the self help/positive affirmation movement have seen my levels of happiness and contentment with my life decline seriously. My house is grottier than ever, my reading and creating has almost stopped and I just feel shit. All the wonderful people I follow don’t know me from Jack shit and wouldn’t notice if I was liking their stuff or not. They won’t be there for me when I’m old and in need of practical help and support, but if I don’t get off my phone my friends and family won’t be there either. It’s time for me to stop the scrolling and start creating the life I want, not one I see on someone else’s feed and start connecting with my family again before it’s too late.
    Cheers Kate

  3. Same same but a little different..sort of…. I’ve stopped checking work emails. Everyone else at work is so responsive its second nature to check whenever my phone is in my hand, even on holidays. But, it is so very good and freeing to disconnect from work – so much more clear space in my head – just wonderful. Time for me to be more cognisent of boundaries and aware of the here and now.

    Bought a new book “from Chaos to Calm: on New Years’ Eve as a treat for myself, really enjoying it.

    Happy New Year Beth and here’s to summer holidays!
    x

  4. I am all for the digital detox. I think everyone should give it a go every few months or so. I know I feel more myself when I don’t use Instagram but I always end up back there, each time questioning myself more & more what’s its place in my life. I seriously think if I’m accepted into tafe next week I’ll be off again because there’s no way I can study while having distractions like Insta.

  5. Katie clews says:

    Good on you Beth.. having a break is so much easier than you anticipate.. I ditched my FB account 4 months ago and I’m not missing it one bit !! I still have Insta but my social media usage has dropped dramatically since ditching FB.. I’ve been reading heaps and actually interacting with people in person lol 😂 .. I hate that we’ve all become so attached to our phones and social media 😞

  6. Oh the social media vortex is strong! I think I got hooked when my firstborn was born (funny that) and it help to cure the being stuck on the couch with your boob out-itis. Over the break this year, I tried to reduce the grabbing of the phone and scrolling mindlessly and decided to try and use that time better. I am missing reading as much as I did pre kids yet I complained I never have time, or can’t be bovvered but can scroll on a phone for hours, go figure! I indulged in a page or two of a book while the toast cooked rather than hitting Instagram for a fix, I’ve listened to Podcasts when I would usually be scrolling when I couldn’t sleep and my brain feels better for it. It’s so nice to feel that you are doing your mental health a good thing and I’m glad you found it to be good for you too!

  7. I literally just started using Moment, an app that tracks your phone usage (and has get off your phone boot camp) and I spent 3.5 hours(!) on it yesterday. I’m back at uni this year and that would be over half my study time per day… what else am I not doing? Can’t even remember what I did with all that time which is a serious worry. The irony is that part of my psych studies were in addictive behaviors including how pokie programmers suck those gullible people over there in. Yet here I am… And the kids are clamoring for their own too. Thanks for the great post and best of luck with keeping off it.

  8. The social media thing is really out of control. I really do need to remove a few things from my phone and laptop. I have been trying desperately to work on a uni assignment the past few days, and because I am a totally despicable procrastinator, I am constantly checking FB, Insta, blogs etc., instead of just doing the blessed assignment! Meanwhile I’m telling my three littlies to leave me alone as I’m trying to ‘study’..very naughty of me.

  9. Heidi Walker says:

    I love this post! It really resonated with me and made me think about the way I am addicted to my phone as well. I scroll endlessly, I check my phone again after 5 minutes and I know nothing has happened since I last checked it but I still check it!!! Why??? I can’t stand in a queue anymore without pulling out my phone to stare at, I can’t just look around anymore and wait patiently, what is wrong with me? I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old and they see me just staring at my phone ALL-THE-TIME, even when I go to the park with them and in my head I know I don’t need to be looking at my phone but I use the excuse I’m checking my work emails and work Instagram feed but really that can wait. So today being Sunday I decided I would not look at my phone, I was only allowed to check text messages and work emails. The outcome was – IT FELT SO GOOD. It almost felt like there was less pressure on me to be constantly being with my phone, I left it on the kitchen bench and totally ignored it! And the most amazing thing happened!!! I actually felt a bit bored and I haven’t felt bored in soooo long and it’s nice on a lazy Sunday to feel bored! It made me realise how much time I waste on my phone and I always complain I don’t have time to read the Sunday papers or the cooking magazines I buy but that’s because I’m always on my damn phone! I finished reading the papers by midday and then had nothing to read, it was the best! Now all I need to do is help my husband with his phone addiction!
    Rant over!

  10. I need to do this. I have had days were the 3 of us (hubby back at work) where we all have not moved from our screens. Yes, its cheap entertainment but I literally feel like a complete sloth. I woke up this morning, went to the couch, fell asleep for another hour or so and basically haven’t moved since.

    God knows what the kids are doing, or even if they are still even here, but I gotta shake it off and get out there again.

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