My 10 Day Digital Detox was just the thing i needed
I read the book “Deep Work” by Cal Newport sometime back. It raises an interesting point about human attention. “To focus more, you don’t need to add more things to your routine, instead, it’s the distractions you need to cut.”
The word distraction reminds me of my mom’s advice on all my problems. “Switch off your damn phone and everything will be okay!!” (And I give her back the same advice when she spends hours on what “Miss happy said on her office group chat” :p )
But, she is right! (and so is Cal)
On phone, the majority of our time goes on social media. You might counter that it is impossible to completely quit it. ( 4.20 billion users is proof)
And I agree!
But what we can do is take breaks. “Digital detox” as you might call it (and that makes us addicts :P)
Digital detox is like your “me time” in a relationship. It’s not like you don’t like spending time with your partner but sometimes you need to be with yourself.
And it has its positive impacts. A 2018 University of Pennsylvania study found that the lesser time people spend on social media, the fewer symptoms of depression and loneliness they feel.
At a personal level, I was having trouble making a few decisions in my professional life. So to clear my head I decided to take a 10-day digital detox
Below are the 5 things that I experienced during this time, it might help you to see if this is something you want to try out too.
Initial Days won’t be easy (and that’s okay)
I had to go to Udaipur for 10 days (not like a trip, more like a yearly ritual to visit my dad’s place). But on my way, on the flight, I vowed that for the next 10 days it’s a “bye-bye” to Instagram, Facebook, Youtube even Tumblr.
On day 1, it was as if my hands were in autopilot mode. The moment I used to unlock my screen, by default I used to end up on my Instagram login page. (my mind — “Remember you are on a detox”)
Or sometimes I would stare at the login page, with a battle in my head to continue it or not.
I still had not decided to go off Whatsapp,( job things, you know) so Whatsapp stories were like my cheat meal.
But by day 3–4, the instinct to check my phone became calmer and that is when the change began to happen.
I was more in present (than stalking someone else’s life)
With no social media account active I did not have much to look on my phone. I naturally started paying more attention to people around me.
Small changes like paying more attention while listening, completing my office work faster. (also, chewing my food more :P)
I could also observe others glued to their screen.
We pick up our phone to reply to that one text but soon it’s like a chain that continues, without us even realizing it.
Studies have shown that looking at electronic screens suppresses the production of melatonin. A natural hormone released in the evening to help you feel tired and ready for sleep.
Usually, right before sleeping, I have had a habit of checking my phone. During the detox period, I kept my phone aside early. (at least 30 minutes before sleeping)
In the successive days, I could see that I fell asleep a lot more easily than usual.
Eventually, instead of checking my phone, I started reading a few pages every night before going to bed.
It also made me feel good about myself that I was devoting time to something that is a lot more productive.
I could find myself getting unstuck
How sometimes we enter a crowded train and it just feels that our personal space is evaded and we can’t breathe! The moment we step out of the train you finally feel free. Our mind needs that breathing space too.
I was serving my notice period and I was getting worked up thinking about what to do next. Looking at my phone only worsened the situation as it felt like everyone has their shit sorted. (except me)
With no more stalking happening, I could analyze my problems without the additional pressure of “who is doing what.”
It allowed me to think without stress and I could form a to-do plan for the set of actions I can take.
Writing this blog is one of those plans
Escaping the need to click zillion photos
Going to a new place and not caring about getting a perfect click is an underrated pleasure.
We do things to be able to post about them or
We want to post something and that’s why we do them
I hung around at some of the most beautiful lakes and I hardly clicked any photo. It felt better to just be in that moment.
Oftentimes, we also evaluate “how cool” is our experience from likes, shares, and comments we get.
But this just felt free. Just doing things without the purpose of recording them. :)
Social Media is a lot like driving a car, perks and risks run parallelly. While detox felt so calming, it just can't be long-term.
The only middle way out of this is to have a personal schedule of using it. Or maybe picking a day of your week where you completely shut yourself out of it.
You know, like stepping out of that crowded compartment of the train more often:) (or at least as and when you can)