THE BLOG

Phone Off: My 12-Hour Digital Detox

08/08/2017 10:43 BST | Updated 08/08/2017 10:43 BST

A busy and emotional week lay behind me and I urgently needed a break. Thus, I had decided to spend a whole Saturday doing nothing - in solitude. Nurturing myself. Taking care of the most important relationship that I have, the relationship with myself.

Saturday, 2pm. I had slept in, eaten breakfast and then slept a little more. I went on to Netflixing an animal documentary (ok, and a little 'Mad Men'). Everything should have been good. But my heart was pounding in my chest and my body just wouldn't settle into my self-proclaimed chill out day.

Ding! My friend had texted and I texted back. A few texts led to a whole conversation and by the end of the conversation, I felt even more tense. But now I knew why my heart was pounding in my chest!

There was this sense - in that moment - that I wasn't safe. The fact that my phone was on, didn't give me that solitary space I needed. I had this visceral sense, that at any moment, someone could intrude my space and disturb my chill-out day. But not only that, I noticed how the impulses to check social media and be in online contact with my friends didn't let me attend to myself. The self, that I had neglected all week. The self, that needed attention and nourishment.

I decided to turn off my phone. For 12 hours. This is what I've learned:

Back to Books

As soon as I had turned off my phone, like magic, my body started calming down. Moments later, I realised that I actually had no desire to be on Netflix. So I grabbed a book from my bookshelf and - feeling like back in the 70s - started reading. I noticed the simple letters on the paper pages. Black and white. This simplicity felt soothing. Freeing. So I read for a while. As my body calmed down more and more, I looked outside and felt a pull to get out into nature.

Off to the Park

Walking towards the park, I spotted a little bee dancing around a flower. I paused and watched it as a smile grew on my face. As I looked up, a woman came walking towards me, her gaze firmly glued onto her phone screen. I wondered whether she too had spotted a bee, as I continued walking. The park seemed brighter today as I passed by a blackberry bush. My friend's favourite berries. I grabbed for my phone to send her a picture. No phone. Just me.

Old School Entertainment

After having a swim in the Hampstead Health woman's pond, I lay down in the grass. Wondering what time it was. At this point, I'd usually check in with my phone, maybe read an article from my Facebook feed or shoot off a few texts. But here I was - just me. Since there was no online entertainment, I started listening to those two very old French ladies behind me, wondering how they had lived most of their lives without phones. It was lovely listening to them discussing the new Diana documentary, Brexit and the long dark Winter nights in Norway. I was truly entertained.

Missing out?

"It's 7:05pm!" One of the French ladies answered to my question. I decided to make my way back home. I was wondering whether my flatmate was hungry too and felt to urge to ask her out for dinner. I grabbed for my phone. No phone. I am so used to be able to reach out to my friends and family whenever I want to, that the situation felt strange. Foreign. I made my way back home - uncertain whether my flatmate would eat without me, and whether she was even at home.

Deeply Connecting with Myself

She wasn't at home, and I didn't know where she was. I had decided to keep my phone off and spend some more time just with myself. That evening, I really settled in. Reconnected with the most important person in my life. Myself. Phone off. Just me.