The Year of Yes, ep. 6: Yes to Digital Detoxes, part I

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This past weekend, I decided to go on a “digital detox.” But as many of us often do in life, I decided to go forth with this intention without much planning. So, it’s not surprising that I ran up against a lot of interesting hurdles.

For one, what does it really mean to digitally detox? In its purest form, it means going 100% device-free – completely switching off all smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers for a specific length of time. For others, it could mean allowing for phone calls and text messages from family and friends, but staying off devices most of the time, the internet, social media and the like. 

I had a difficult time going fully device-free. I realized the book that I’m trying to finish (and finally had time to read!) is on an app on my iPad. I also always talk to my parents and brother on the weekend, and I didn’t warn them that I’d be unavailable (lest they thought I fell of the face of the Earth). A few friends also wanted to meet up for dinner, I hadn’t planned on what I’d do about connecting with them. Finally, I didn’t set up an email auto-reply for a few pending time-sensitive work issues. 

That being said, I intentionally stayed off my devices and the internet for a good percentage of the weekend. I was able to notice when I had an impulse to grab my phone to check on something - it was most certainly a practice in mindfulness. My time felt more spacious, and yet more deliberate.

I spent hours chilling with my honey, cooking, taking photos (with my digital SLR, doh!), having good conversation + laughing, dreaming about surfing this summer, and just being quiet. I also had the bandwidth to work on a few projects that have been awaiting my attention (read: have been procrastinating on), which was amazing. And, in the end, my head did feel clearer, rested, and recharged.

 

I am going to try for a true digital detox soon, this time with the necessary pre-planning. I am hoping to make it at least 24 hours, but hopefully for more, perhaps 48 or 72 hours. I'd also like to practice the semi-digital detox I did this weekend, mindfulness of devices if you will, more often, which requires less planning. If you’d like to learn more, read this great article about digital detoxes and some of the neuroscience behind it, or this interesting piece from the New York Times. 

So, all in all, I only dipped my toe in the digital detox pond this weekend, but next time I'm going to jump into the lake. To be continued... 

Hope you have a great week! 💚

The Year of Yes is a weekly photo-and-word installment by Dr. Shah written with the purpose of evoking hope, resilience, and a gentle movement toward healthy change in all of us.