I took a 9 day break from the internet, social media and emails to experiment what it would feel like to be completely conscious, available and aware - allowing me to have more time and mental space for family, friends, beauty, reflection, creativity and gratitude.
Reasons why I chose to challenge myself to a 9 day fast from the internet:
- I was checking my emails constantly - I never kept count of how many times I checked my email, but I would guess at least a dozen times a day. I'd check my emails when I woke up in the morning, in between commercials while watching TV and when I went to the bathroom. I am sure I can think of more examples, but these 3 I wanted to change the most.
- I'd become a social media junkie - I would lay in bed at night, tired, barely keeping my eyes open scrolling though Instagram. Sometimes I would find myself in mid-conversation with a friend checking my Facebook or phone for any notifications.
- I was working too much - There were times I would go home to visit family and friends and would plan to work while I was there. Sometimes this is unavoidable but I missed moments to run errands with my sister, drink coffee and just talk with friends, take the kids to the park, paint with my nieces and go for hikes. When on vacation or even at home, the moment I read an email that required attention I'd immediately feel the weight of my work change my mood, disallowing me to relax and enjoy my time away from work. Ultimately feeling like I am constantly working. As an entrepreneur, I realize this a part of my life, but I believe there is a way to relax and enjoy life without thoughts of projects or the needs of others.
- I started reading this book - A few weeks ago I started to read Manage Your Day-to-Day. This book challenges the internet and our addiction to it. It got me thinking of my own addiction to it and how I'd like to try living without it.
After the 9 days, here is what I've learned and couldn't wait to share with you:
- It's easier than you think - There were moments I wanted to use social media to promote my husbands release shows and performance, but overall I had no problem forgetting about my phone. I turned off all push notifications, my ringer/vibrate and only used my phone for text or phone calls (which was very little being that I was in the company of most people who would contact me).
- So much beauty surrounds us - I found that omitting the need to check my phone gave me appreciation for all of the beauty that surrounds us. It's still happening right now as I type - I am gazing out the window watching the burnt orange leaves dance in the wind.
- Family and friends need us - Having more intentional conversations allowed me to be aware and listen more fully. I felt more whole and full of purpose and compassion.
- My brain felt bigger - I realize this might sound silly, but it's quite literally how it's felt since I stopped using the internet as much, especially for the 9 days without. Currently, I feel as if a dimension of my brain awoke from a long hibernation and is ready to play.
- I'm more creative - Instead of filling my downtime with my iPhone and internet, I had moments of reflection. This gave me space to find gratitude, beauty and creative thoughts. My mind was and has been exploring so many thoughts, feelings, beauty and emotions - I feel like I could invent something or really make something big happen.
- I'm more grateful - Because I had time to reflect after each conversation, each meal, each walk, each moment, I was able find and experience gratitude. Which feels so good and meaningful.
- Just because I gave up the internet, doesn't mean they will - Something I didn't expect was how much everyone else was using their iPhone or internet. I don't think anyone was overusing the internet or should feel like they need to give it up just because I did, but I was shocked at how much the internet is a part of all of our lives. We use it to look up a word, directions, a celebrities latest gossip, to reference a conversation, to play a video, to show a picture, to take a picture…Because I was removed from my phone, things seemed a little clearer and couldn't believe I was actually guilty of what I was seeing - like taking your iPhone (which is really miniature computer) to the dinner table.
- It's contagious - I am guilty of this, but never really realized how many other people to it too. The moment one person jumps on their phone, another would jump on theirs. Almost like they needed the excuse to get on theirs. Like a drug, you want it once you see someone else using it. There were moments that I would be in the company of 3 people that were all on their cell phones.
Overall the experience was eye-opening and has really got me thinking about how much I abuse this amazing technology we call the internet.
It's still too soon to say what my plan will be moving forward and what kind of efforts I want to make with everything I learned (use an alarm clock instead of my phone, maybe get rid of my iPhone or subscribe to this internet program that will kick you off the internet certain times of the day).
What I do know is that I really enjoyed the break and believe that I have grown stronger, faster, more creative and heartfelt because I wasn't on the internet - giving my brain space to explore, create and appreciate. I challenge you to something of the same.
Have any of your experienced these internet habits or addictions? Do you have any tips on how you keep the internet addiction at bay?