Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Wellness Wednesday - Cell Free Detox

For the last little while I've been in an accidental technology detox. There was a day I came home exhausted, dehydrated, and clearly distracted when I tossed my laundry into the wash before realizing my phone was in my pocket. Yep. By the time I remembered where the phone was it was too late. We tried different things to dry out my phone but without any luck.

We decided with the imminent launch of the new iPhone why not just hold out until that comes out. I might have opted to completely wait to get a phone but being in the midst of the busiest time of the year for my job I had to have something. That something is a lovely burn phone that costs us under $30 total. It's far from glamorous and really something I'll use for emergency and to communicate with a few select people at work to ensure we can get our jobs done.

As I've been without a phone I've thought about this video I saw on my friend Amy's blog.


I didn't realize until being forced to not have a phone just how much one small device could take over my life and the lives of those around me. At first I felt left out. Like somehow my friends would think I don't like them if I wasn't liking their posts or leaving them comments. I felt disconnected like I was somehow missing the most exciting and important things that were going on in their lives. I felt like somehow I'd be so far out of the loop that I'd be some sort of social leper that people might shun because I haven't read the latest thing from Buzzfeed or Huff Post.

Of course none of this came true. I haven't had friends tell me I'm a horrible person for not liking the picture of their kids on the first day of school. No one has called to tell me they feel something is wrong with our friendship because I somehow didn't comment on something they did last weekend. I haven't felt like I've missed anything noteworthy by not reading every article to come through my news feed on Facebook. Either my 'friends' haven't noticed or it doesn't mean enough for them to reach out to talk to me about it.

I have realized not having a smart phone has been a good thing.  These are my top 3 perks in my time without a smart phone.
I actually think I sleep better because I have a mandatory buffer between the last time I'm looking at a TV or computer screen before I go to bed. I typically head up about an hour before I want to go to sleep and read a book. When my body tells me I'm tired I put my book down and go to sleep. I don't have to think about the last thing I read on Facebook or the email I opened up from someone at work.

Getting ready in the morning is a lot easier too. I don't spend a ton of time laying in bed looking at Facebook so I get up and start getting ready. Without any distractions it's easy to be efficient in getting ready and getting out the door. I thought I'd have anxiety about not seeing what's in my inbox before getting to work but honestly I have yet to have a day (knock on wood) where I got to work and wished I had seen what was in my inbox before leaving my house. There hasn't been a single thing that couldn't wait until I got to work.

I am completely present for those around me. I don't feel the need to check my phone every minute to see if I've got a new email or check social media because I don't get those things on my burn phone. I don't worry that I'm missing something huge because honestly if something huge happened I figure someone will let me know or else I'm probably not that important to them or the event in the first place. I can happily play with my son, read a book, or get in a workout and have it be just that.
And because I know there are ups and downs to most things, these are my top 3 downers for my time without a smart phone.
I miss taking pictures. My cell phone was my camera and I loved capturing the beautiful things around me including my sweet little Russell man. I'm the person who snaps dozens of pictures each day of the little things Russell does while my husband is the kind of person I have to remind to take pictures and send them to me while I'm at work. Now that I can't even receive pictures on my phone it seems like we just aren't taking that many and that makes me a little sad. Sure I could pull out our camera and take pictures but the ease of taking photos and sharing them with family from a smart phone is something I do miss.

I miss texting my friends and seeing what they're doing on social media. Sure a text isn't the same as a conversation or meeting up in person but we all lead busy lives and sometimes a quick text to say hello, a funny picture, or sharing something interesting that happened that day can be fun. I know a lot of social media can be a serious time suck but there are some very positive people I know and some long time friends that I enjoy being able to passively see what's going on in their lives. Yes, this defeats the purpose of actually having personal connections but I have learned a lot about people through social media and have received help and information quickly in a way that can't be replicated by calling people one by one.

I miss my alarm. Yep, seriously, I miss my alarm. My burn phone decided one morning that it was 2:20 a.m. on January 1, 2006. Yeah. WRONG. At the time it was 5:50 a.m. and definitely not 2006. Luckily for me Russell chose that day to wake up early so I didn't sleep in and miss work. I have a clock radio that works too but my phone alarm was always reliable and I had gotten used to the sound I chose to wake up to.
So, what does all this mean? If you've managed to stick with me to this point first I want to say bravo to you. Second I want to challenge you to a cell free detox. I'm not asking you to quit social media, email, or the internet in general. I'm asking you to do 3 simple things for at least a week (2 or more would be better) because they have made a difference for me.
  1. Put down your phone and don't look at it again starting at least 1 hour before your anticipated bed time. I'm serious, set your alarm early, get your social media fix in, and make sure you know what's on your calendar for work so you know what to wear tomorrow morning. One hour before bed PUT IT DOWN. You can read a book, talk to your spouse/friend/partner/child, get a workout in, meditate, paint, whatever you want but you can not be on your phone. Bonus points if you can shut down your TV and computer too. (For me the combination of no computer/tv/phone is what I feel makes the difference in my quality of sleep.)
  2. Don't look at your phone during a meal. It shouldn't matter if you're alone or with others. You should be able to eat in peace without distraction or to eat and be present for those around you. How in the world do you expect to feel full, realize you're eating something bad, or decide that you don't really need that cupcake if your mind is occupied by what's on your phone. Mindless eating can contribute to obesity and unhealthy habits so stop and smell the veggies and really enjoy what you're eating. Nourish your body and your mind. 
  3. Don't check your email or look at social media until you're completely ready for your day to begin. I don't know that I know a single person who feels they have a morning routine that brings them peace or prepares them for their day. Most of the people I know feel like crap when they get up, they feel rushed, or feel stressed out right from moment one. I challenge you to create a morning routine that sets you up for success. My morning isn't perfect but I have realized not checking email should become part of an ideal morning for me.
Whew! This is so much to take in but I felt like I needed to share this. I have read so much lately that strongly correlates overall happiness and life satisfaction with having strong social ties and connections to others. I'm making the choice to try and be a better friend and be open to connecting with others and I hope you will too. I know I'll have a smart phone again in the next couple of weeks but I know some of these new habits are ones I'm not willing to let go of.

Give my challenge a try and let me know how it goes. I'm also interested in how long you can continue to make these challenges a part of your daily routine. Share what changes for you as you go through the process. Don't be afraid if you honestly experience something like withdrawals for the first few days/weeks. I did, but I am still here and ok and you will be too.

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