Creating a sense of peace and calm: A technology detox review

Last month, I scaled back my use of technology. I wanted to create my own version of a digital detox- and it was more lovely, energizing, and happiness-boosting than I anticipated! The goal was to stay present and enjoy all the holiday season had to offer.

And so, on the evening of November 30, I deleted every social media app from my phone. I installed Cold Turkey on my computer, which blocked social media websites as well as other sites I find to be distracting- Buzzfeed, CNN, etc. I also decided to be very intentional on what I'd be watching on Netflix- I wasn't looking to cut it out completely (I LOVE watching Christmas movies throughout December) but mindlessly watching The Office for the 10th time was something that needed to change.

December 1 was a Thursday. My typical Thursday morning consisted of coffee and watching the news, while scrolling through social media, personal emails, and work emails, and then getting ready for to head into the office. But on December 1, I woke up, made coffee, and sat on my couch. In silence. While my phone was in a different room. For a full 20 minutes.

It was excrutiating.

Honestly, I had no idea how attached I was to my phone. Obviously it was somewhere on my radar, otherwise the digital detox wouldn't have been needed. However- I was shocked just how dependent I felt on it during that first morning. That 20 minutes felt like an hour. I stared at the television remote for awhile, trying to avoid turning on the morning news. My phone was in another room and my mind automatically thought about all the things I could be doing on it instead of sitting in silence. It was a rough morning!

But it got so much better- by the end of the first day, I felt like a new human being. It truly felt like I was discovering a whole new, non-tech, natural world. I moved slower throughout my day, felt less rushed, and was more productive both at home and at work. The drastic change was a bit unsettling. The best part about all of this is that it lasted through the entire month of December- goal accomplished!

Without any further ado, here are my results and takeaways from my December Digital Detox:

  1. My husband commented on how strange it was to see me reading on the couch with my phone nowhere near me. I was able to get so much reading done without any digital distractions.
  2. Life seemed so much richer! Instead of all that screen time, I got to focus on the natural beauty of life and the world around me. As cheesy as that sounds, it's completely true. Time moved slower, and I was able to soak the sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas and the New Year- which was precisely my goal.
  3. I did miss seeing pictures of family and friends- especially all their fun holiday adventures. 
  4. Mornings were SO much more calm! It was a lovely way to ease into the day, instead of rushing into technology and my to-do list. I also completed the Advent devotional reading that was part of my original plan
  5. I made it through 90% of my winter bucket list. A few things didn't happen, but they are things that can certainly be done throughout the next few months- thanks to our extra long Minnesota winters :-) 
  6. I noticed just how much my mood could be impacted by technology. Whether it was reading emails first thing in the morning or right before bed, watching the news, mindlessly binge watching something on Netflix, or scrolling through Instagram... all of it led me to feel tired, drained, and unmotivated.
  7. I learned what makes me feel good- having a clean home, starting my day intentionally, savoring a great cup of coffee, finishing books (seriously, having stacks of half-read books drives me up the wall!), having conversations without my phone in my hand. 

On New Year's Day, I remembered that I could re-install my social media apps. It felt like a chore. It felt like adding something negative back into my life- something I didn't need! And so, I decided to get back into the digital world with a few new guidelines:

  1. I deleted my personal Twitter- I'm exclusively using this counseling account now.
  2. No Facebook app on my phone, plus I've done a lot of unfollowing. That way, I'm only seeing posts from close friends and family. Less distraction from cute animal pictures and cooking videos!
  3. I unfollowed a ton of meme accounts and celebrities on Snapchat and Instagram. Turns out, I don't need to know what Chrissy Teigen is up to on a daily basis.
  4. One that is a work in progress... no phone until coffee, morning devotional, and workout are all complete! This is tough- but necessary for the right mindset each day.

So... did the technology detox do what I had hoped it would do? 100% yes. Here's the breakdown:

Potential benefits of a technology detox

1. Increased productivity and focus (source) - YES

2. Increased mindfulness (source) - YES

3. Increased creativity (source) - YES

4. Decreased stress (source) - YES x100

5. Decreased comparisons (source) - YES

I hope this experience will encourage YOU to try whatever version of a detox works. At the end of your detox, you might notice a few things coming up. This is to be expected, because we often use technology and social media to mask our true emotions and issues. Processing through these things with a counselor can be healing and transformative. Schedule your first appointment to get started today.