This week I challenged myself to a 3-day digital detox, cleansing my field of all things digital. No computer, phone, wi-fi, TV, emails, Netflix, Instagram, texting, Facebook, etc. ...Scary right? My phone is literally on me at all times, and for that reason a detox of this nature was such a wonderful and necessary experience.
My intention going into the digi-cleanse was to disconnect so that I could reconnect with myself! I was feeling drained and really needed a reset. It's not natural to stare a screen for hours a day. It messes with our brain, our body and our emotions.
I do LOVE social media and it's ability to spark change, inspire others, communicate ideas, recipes, and express ourselves. It's a vehicle for transformation, but it can also be a distraction. I didn't do the digi-cleanse from a place thinking that social media or watching Netflix is 'bad'. Sometimes you just have to disconnect to reconnect.
At first I was nervous about being disconnected from cyber world and social media, but it was a lot easier than I thought. I actually really enjoyed it and will absolutely be doing this again soon.
I could write a novel about my experience but I will just share the 3 main takeaways:
1. I was more present with myself and with others.
The first thing I noticed was that I was able to pay more attention to the present moment. I noticed the little things. I slowed down. I laughed more.
I felt more connected with myself and my natural state, and that felt good.
On my first day, I found myself rushing though my dinner meal, eating so fast and reminded myself that there was nothing I had to do, nowhere I need to be, no Instagram photo I had to post. I was able to slow down and be more mindful with my food, chewing more and I was able to feel when I was truly full. I'm hoping to carry that energy forward - not feeling rushed! My theme song has always been "I'm in a hurry and don't know why" by Alabama ;)
I was also more present with others. On my laundry day, I took my clothes into town and actually talked with the other people waiting for their gitchies to clean. I was also highly amused people watching at the laundry mat and at the grocery store instead of checking my phone while waiting in line. People are so interesting!
2. You’re not going to miss anything major.
Well I didn’t anyways. Guilt still tried to creep in occasionally with a lot of ‘What ifs’…
What if someone texts me an important question?
What if someone thinks I'm ignoring them?
What if someone shares one of my pictures on Instagram and I miss it and can't say thank you?
What if someone super famous shares one of my pictures on Instagram and I miss it and can't say thank you?
What if someone needs me and I can’t be there for them? …it was that question, that thought that really got me thinking. – What if someone needs me?…well... I NEEDED ME! Does that count? Yes, yes it does. I needed ME to take this time for myself in a big way. I put myself first and that isn’t always easy, but it was so worth it. I'm worth it. And you are worth it too. When I had this realization I was really able to let go of the ‘guilt’ to honour this space I had created.
Your time is so very precious and you are worth it.
3. I’m happier.
I’m more grateful for life’s simple pleasures. I think this is because I truly got to relax for the first time in ages. I spoiled myself with delicious food that was all for me and not an Instagram post. I went to the ocean without the intent of Snap-chatting it or sharing photos later to Facebook. I had baths without multi-tasking, answering emails or editing photos. (Risky, I know!) It felt great to do things just for me!
I also feel energized and ready to take action, moving forward with the projects that have been stewing about in my mind. You realize how much you actually use technology when it’s not there anymore. I was totally using it as a distraction from working on a few projects I want to do.
Also my sleep and mood are better. I went to bed earlier and woke up naturally. Not having the screen-time wear on your eyes and brain before bed is a huge bonus physically and psychologically. I even took afternoon naps…NAPS!!! I might keep those in the routine now! Haha
Doing a cleanse from technology is very similar to regular cleanses or detox programs. There are going to be temptations, but there are ways to prevent them as well. It helps to have a plan! I thought I’d share my thought process and step by step instructions if you are interested in trying a Digi-Cleanse yourself with these 6 easy steps.
How to do a Digital Cleanse
Step 1: Get Clear about the Why.
Why do you want to do a technology cleanse?
Getting clear on your intention will help you stick to the challenge. Write it out and post it somewhere to remind yourself. Whether it's creating more time for you, wanting more time to spend with your kids, your partner or with nature, more time to be creative, or pursue your passions and do what lights you up inside!
Step 2: How Long and How Much?
Do you wish to disconnect from your smartphone and social media, or do you want the full experience? No TV, Netflix, iPods, computer, smartphone, texting, tablet or e-reader. There are no rules, start where you feel comfortable, yet still pushing your comfort zone enough for some benefits.
How many days will you go? 2-3 days or a whole week if you are brave? You choose!
Step 3: Let People Know.
Send out texts, emails and write a Facebook/Instagram post letting people know that you are not ignoring them or missing! Share that you will be disconnecting from cyber world and when you will be back.
You can program an automated email response to go out if you work online.
Also, let people know how to reach you in case of an emergency – if you wish - like a landline, if you still have one of those! Or commit to checking emails only once a day for 3-5 minutes and let people know they can get a hold of you there in special circumstances.
Step 4: Plan Your Time Off.
What will you do without the distractions of social media, games, texting, pinterest?
It really helps to make a list of things you’d like to do with your time before you start. Keep the list visible to remind you in times when boredom might strike.
Take advantage of the disconnect to truly reconnect with yourself. Spend time in nature, walking, hiking, exploring. You can get in touch with your creative side with crafts and art projects, adult coloring books, or making a vision board. Sings, dance, hoola hoop, do yoga, move your body, meditate, breathe, play. Clean out the junk drawer, the fridge, the closet, de-clutter and organize if that sounds fun to you! And journal! Keep a journal of your thoughts and experiences.
Step 5: Disconnect! And Reconnect with YOU!
Unplug the wifi and turn off the phone. Hide the tablet and close the laptop. Put it out of sight. Out of sight out of mind.
Enjoy being more present with yourself. Notice the little things that bring you joy, besides how many likes your photo gets ;)
If you feel bored or anxious, journal about it.
If you feel happy and relaxed, enjoy the moment, then journal about it!
Step 6: Integration: Reflect on your experience post-cleanse.
How are you feeling?
Did you have any major insights?
Are you feeling more connected to you?
What did you enjoy?
Make a plan moving forward – Will you do another digital cleanse? Maybe you’d like to plan one day a week tech-free. Or you might like to try scheduling in three 30min sessions of internet time per day, setting a timer on your phone to let you know the time is up!
You could take a small step right now and leave your phone at home when you go out for dinner. Don't take it into the tub with you at bath time. Or challenge yourself to turn it off 1-2 hours before bed and leave it off all night.
There’s lots of ways to move forward having a healthier relationship with technology. I hope this helps and inspired you to take the challenge. You won’t regret it!
Lots of Love and Fresh Squeezed Hugs,
Ashley Clark is a Holistic Health Coach, artist, photographer and the owner/operator of Naturally Ashley Nutrition. This prairie girl from Saskatchewan Canada loves to nourish her body positive thoughts and ripe seasonal fruits! She wants to share everything she knows about holistic living to inspire others on their journey to create a happy, healthy lifestyle naturally.
Ashley received holistic health coach training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has been following a raw vegan diet for three years. She has healed many health issues such as candida, gallbladder inflammation, chronic hives and allergies, sinus problems, digestive issues, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic urinary tract infections and more. She now feels lighter and brighter with abundant energy to pursue her dreams!