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Is it time for a smartphone detox?

I recently did a smartphone detox. It was only for a week, but during that time, I only checked my phone once in the morning and once again in the evening. Doesn’t sound that difficult, does it? Well, what surprised me was just how difficult it was.

It’s a habit, you might even say addiction, to check your phone regularly. I hadn’t realised just how much I do this. It was a case of every time I had a moment in my thoughts, I would reach for my phone, check my emails, every social media account and my website stats before moving on with my day. During my detox week, when the urge came, I had to stop myself and find something else to do. It’s almost like trying to give up biting your nails; a mindless habit you don’t even realise you’re doing until you try and stop it.

What did this smartphone detox do for me?

It made me aware of the habit I have for a start. The feeling was quite liberating in many ways. It was as if someone had given me permission to stop and pull back from the force that was sucking me in and making me feel as though I constantly needed to check in and keep up to date with what was going on in my social media feeds. I felt lighter, more focused and more present in my every day. Now I could spend more time concentrating on not only work-related things but also my immediate surroundings.

My relationship with social media began to change last year.

For a start, I had my Instagram accounts hacked and that put me off using that platform. I felt violated and was so disappointed I couldn’t get my accounts back after all the effort I’d put into them over the years, building up my following. Then Twitter changed and I felt and saw my engagement drop. People were leaving X left, right and centre. Suddenly, I was panic-joining Mastadon and Threads and whatever else people were talking about that was deemed to be ‘the latest thing’. I posted a few times but didn’t have the heart or energy to get into any of them.

In doing my smartphone detox, I realised I could live my life without social media.

However, I know I need a social media presence for my work, which is why I’ve kept them. One thing it did do though was to encourage me back into blogging. On my blog, I can waffle to my heart’s content knowing that what I write will hang around. People might not read it there and then, but at some point, someone will see it and it might strike a chord with them. I like the longevity of blogging compared with the super-fast throwaway pace of social media feeds. I don’t do video, reels, TikTok’s – they’re not me and they never will be, but do you know what, that’s okay. As far as my business is concerned, more people find me via my website than my social media feeds, so I think there’s a lot to be said for having a good website and making sure you’re up to date with SEO.

In 2023, my creativity took a huge dive too.

Is it any coincidence that it’s returned now I’m spending less time glued to my phone? I don’t think so. Other factors have contributed to my newly reformed creative streak, but I don’t doubt that freeing my mind from the shackles of my phone has made a huge difference.

I was on a train the other day and as I looked around the carriage, everyone was on a device. It struck me that back in the late nineties and early 2000s when I used to commute to London daily, most people, including myself, would be reading a book. How times have changed, eh? I know smartphones are here to stay and they are part of our lives now, but I can’t help feeling that they’re contributing to a dampening of our souls, or am I being dramatic?

Have you ever done a smartphone detox? did you feel it was worth it?

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