Dear Future Pinkster!
Am I the only one that has noticed that the theme song for our current generation is: Let’s get digital?
I have been to several group gatherings where most of the people are paying more attention to their phones than they are to the people in the room.
Shopping during the holidays? I saw more people staring at their phones when they were walking through the mall than I did that weren’t. If one of them was you, I won’t judge. I miss the days when ‘eye-contact’ was more prevalent than ‘i-phone’ contact. Please tell me I am not alone.
I suffer from seasonal depression. I have suffered for most of my adult life. The months from November through March are the worst! December can be especially depressing now that my husband and I are empty-nesters and all three of our boys live far, far away. This year two of them were home for Thanksgiving-which usually makes Christmas more difficult for both of us emotionally.
How many of you have heard warnings like these to turn off your phone or other electronic devices?
“Just turn off your phone!”
“Why can’t you just switch it off?”
“Can’t we just talk to each other?”
If you are a professional at rolling your eyes when you these phrases, you probably can’t imagine what living your life without technology is like. Digital devices certainly opens up possibilities for communicating that past generations would have never dreamed possible.
You are probably wondering if it is really that dangerous to stay connected to our devices, aren’t you?
The answer is a resounding YES!
Simon Sinek has an excellent video that drives this message home.Check it out by clicking here.
What are some of the Effects Of Always Being On Our Electronic Devices?
Electronics make our lives better in many ways, including keeping us in touch with friends and family around the world. But being connected to others constantly can wear on our well-being. It can cut into our long-term happiness and reduce our overall satisfaction with life. For more information on this topic, click here.
The benefits of taking a digital detox for a little while are far-reaching. People who have taken a break from technology report a sense of feeling more closely connected to those around them. (Dinner is on the table shortly after my husband gets home from work versus two hours later and he has eaten most of my walnuts before it is ready…)
When we are attached to our technological devices, our priorities shift from spending time with our loved ones in person. This can easily disrupt our well-being. Stress can easily increase. For example, the people that you love who are not on their devices might say: I’M STARVING! Log-off already! Or put away your phone and nobody will get hurt!
We may feel more depressed and more alone in general when we spend an excessive amount of time using electronics to communicate with others, rather than communicating face to face. I didn’t realize how bad I was feeling until I took a break from my favorite social media platform at the end of 2018.
I took my own digital detox from social media for ten days. Before I did this, a typical day would look like this:
First thing every morning, I log on. After I eat breakfast, I log on. I take an afternoon break for an hour or so. I log on to procrastinate exercising until I have to pick my husband up from work. As soon as we get home, I log on before I cook dinner. After dinner, I log on for two or three hours, watch a movie with my husband, and then log on before I go to bed. Then I have trouble falling asleep. On a good night, I sleep for six hours.
If this is you, it might be time for you to ‘try on’ a digital detox.
When I began my digital detox, I truly felt like I had an addiction. I wondered what I was going to do with ALL of my free time. The first day, I had withdrawal symptoms. My heart raced. I felt anxious. I was afraid I would fail. I was accountable to my husband and the people I promised on social media. What would they think if they saw me on it when I was supposed to be ”digitally-detoxing?’
Thankfully, one of my closest friends called me on the morning of my first full day just as those thoughts were racing through my mind. When we hung up, I felt like I could make it through the rest of the day. My friend truly was and IS a lifeline. She has been like a second mother to me for many years.
How You CAN DO A Digital Detox Without Going Crazy
A digital detox doesn’t have to mean you cut out technology altogether. You can choose to take a few small steps toward using your devices less and listening to your body and mind more.
(I chose to go completely without. I have tried cutting back before. It never worked for me.) I would like to encourage you to ‘try on’ a few of these tips to figure out what works for you.
Here are a few guidelines to create your own digital detox.
Plan for it. Decide how long you are going to digitally detox. Set a date. Write it on your calendar. Make a commitment.
I love the following quote from Kenneth H. Blanchard about the definition of commitment. I have used it several times over the last thirty years when I made the decision to accomplish something big.
There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you are interested in doing something, you do it only when its convenient. When you are committed to doing something, you accept no excuses, only results!
Then purge yourself of unnecessary electronic equipment. This approach can apply to entire devices all the way down to the apps on your phone. Take time to be critical about which electronics you use on a regular basis. Even eliminating half the apps on your phone narrows down your electronic clutter. It can lighten your mental load, even if you don’t stop using your phone entirely.
Identify the things or projects you can do to replace the time while you are detoxing. Make a list of things that you could spend your time working on while you are ‘disconnected from your digital devices.’ Write them down in a journal or on a notepad. Some ideas are: You could read or write a book, exercise, work on your family history, de-clutter your living space, finish a craft or complete a home-improvement project. Discuss your goals with your family. Find someone to serve. Visit a friend. The possibilities are endless.
I read two books in ten days. How to Live a Happy Life by Jonathan Fields and
The Library of Fates. I will be re-telling the latter in a future Toastmasters speech. I got back on my exercise program and generally felt better emotionally than I had in a long time-even with my seasonal depression.
Nix your excuses. Create some life-lines for yourself. This is why planning for you digital detox is so important. Phone a friend. Write a positive affirmation. Read it when you start feeling a need to connect digitally.
I believe one of the reasons why most of us are addicted to our digital devices is because we want instant gratification. We love feeling validated when we receive immediate responses about something we share.
Here is one example of an affirmation you can use:
The number of likes, comments, and knowing everything that is going on with everybody I know is NOT as validating as connecting with people that I love face to face or hearing their voice right now.
Keep it simple and have fun! Give yourself “breaks” for a day or two.. You don’t have to give up your electronics for a very long time if you’re not ready to do so. Just take the weekend off, or put them away at a certain time after you get off work. Ask some friends to join you. This way you can hold each other accountable.Then celebrate your success together when you complete it. In time, you may even discover that these breaks ARE addictive!
Taking a break from technology on Sunday has been a rule in my house for many years. It is one of the ways our family honors the Sabbath day.
I succeeded at staying off social media for ten days. I felt incredible! I felt true joy when I accomplished this incredibly difficult goal.
I was afraid to get back on social media when my digital detox was over. After ten days of being ‘disconnected,’ I didn’t want to fall back into my my old habits. I didn’t want my depression to come back or get worse.
When I got back online, did I fall back into my old habits? That is a topic for another time. Stay tuned! I hope you will try a digital detox as you pursue your path to living your life…in the pink this year.
Have you ever attempted a digital detox or a social media fast? How did it go? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Enjoy your day!