It’s no secret; technology is becoming more and more intertwined into our daily lives. Whether personal or professional, our phones are constantly buzzing, notifications are popping up in the corner of our computer screens, and new emails are flooding our inboxes. Sometimes this is a good thing -- a sign of a deal being made, a friend confirming a plan for Friday night, or a loved one sending a message that brings a smile to your face. At the same time, everything is best in moderation and in balance. How many times have you and a friend hung out and sat on your couch analyzing something on social media rather than having a genuine, face-to-face conversation about something that really matters? Many (okay, all) people feel anxious without their phones touching their physical bodies, because having a phone means you are never truly alone and you are also never without an instantly available distraction. We’ve all been there: you’re alone in a new social setting or in line at Starbucks, and rather than embrace your solitude, you pull out your phone to fill the void, to seem busy, to alleviate the awkwardness. Even a moment alone can be too much for many of us.
Have you ever tried leaving your house without your phone? I know…it sounds crazy. Or is it? It’s how most people lived just 20 years ago, and it’s a trend worth revisiting. If you are worried about personal safety, bring your phone along, but try turning it off, leaving it in your car, or even putting it on airplane mode for a designated amount of time. The reason I suggest leaving your phone at home is to prevent yourself the option to check it, as this has really become second nature for many of us. I promise you, whatever you choose to do without your device for that hour, day, or however long it may be, you will feel more connected to that experience than you have felt to anything in a long time. You may not be doing anything super important or meaningful, but the experience will feel different because you will BE there, fully, and not half somewhere else.
Try going on a walk with a friend, watching the sunset on the beach, or exercising, and just let the phone be for a few hours. Force yourself to sit with your thoughts, and embrace the discomfort that may follow. You will get used to it after a while, and you will start allowing yourself “me time” where you dictate what happens, instead of being governed by a notification, an email, a phone call from a friend, or another digital interruption. This space you create for yourself is a form of self care. A form that isn’t honored nearly enough. Your mind needs time to unwind, to roam free, to (gasp) even get bored. Doing a daily digital detox will help you be present and live real life in the moment you are in, rather than letting your digital life scroll or swipe you by.