Closing The Tabs In Your Brain - A Digital Detox



Today I want to write about something that I didn't realise was important until a week or so ago. Over the last few weeks, I let myself get sucked in by the numbers game over on Instagram and ended up comparing my stats to that of others (really bad idea) and wondering what I was doing so wrong.

And then, one of those unsolicited emails dropped into my inbox basically confirming what I was already thinking. They were telling me how bad I was doing with my account, they shared the stats and generally made me feel terrible about it. And they topped it off by telling me they can fix it if I pay them to buy fake likes. No thanks, I'm not going to lie to my audience. I don't usually give these types of emails, the time of day, but they caught me off guard, and because they had the stats I was instantly drawn in.

For days after that email, I found myself constantly checking my stats, constantly refreshing my feed and generally stressed myself out over it. It even got to the point that I was stressing about it before I went to bed. Daft huh? It's only an app after all. I even found sitting at my laptop also made me feel anxious because I know I can check it there too. Feeling anxious at my laptop, then led to unproductive afternoons, because I just couldn't relax or concentrate on anything for very long at all.

Image by Kyleigh's Papercuts

Then on a Friday, in the pouring rain, I packed up the car with my boyfriend and headed to Shropshire for a weekend of camping with a bunch of other small creative businesses. I grumpily hurried the tent up in the rain and was dreading getting in it that night because I had no idea if it was waterproof or if we were going to end up sleeping in the car.

Despite the fact I went to bed cold on Friday night, I woke up on Saturday morning feeling less stressed. Why? Well, not only was I surrounded by a bunch of great people, the rain had finally gone but there was no phone signal. Yes, this was a good thing. It meant that I couldn't refresh the app, I couldn't reply to messages on Facebook and I couldn't see what other people were doing online. This was the beginning of the digital detox.


But before we dive in, what exactly is a digital detox? Google describes it as this:
a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world.
Over that weekend I was present in the real world, not a fake, online, curated one. There was no numbers to watch and no disappointment or questions. Instead, I spoke to real people, I took part in activities (well, actually I spent far too long on making a dream catcher which meant I missed out on sports day style activities, but I was enjoying it), I appreciated the amazing sunset, gliding across the boating lake and failing not once, but 4 times to get the boat back into the boat house with a fellow small business owner (there was a lot of laughing). I listened to the noise the swans made as they ran across the top of the lake, the rustle of the trees in the wind and the laughter around the campsite. And do you know what? I didn't miss the online world one little bit.



For the first time in weeks I felt stress free, all the anxiety had gone and I felt happy. Why? All because I didn't connect to the Internet. I didn't use my phone. I lived in the real world. I took a few photos here and there, but that was it. It was that simple. No phone = a more chilled out Joanne. I should have also mentioned that prior to this trip I had a serious case of creative block. Nothing could shift it and I hadn't drawn anything new in months and was beginning to feel like a failure. I wanted to draw but the ideas just wasn't there and it left me feeling angry and frustrated. But, upon leaving this trip I had gained a few new ideas. Whether they will materialise into new things is another thing, but I'm just happy to be drawing again.






Image by Kyleigh's Papercuts

If you think you might be feeling the same way I did, perhaps take a look at my list below and see how many you can tick off? It might be time you took some time away from the screen (laptop, tablet and phone) and did something a bit more in the real world and see if it makes a difference to how you feel? You never know, you might enjoy it! And if you don't, you don't have to do it again.

  • You're getting stressed with social media
  • You're getting hooked up on the amounts of likes and comments you're getting or not getting
  • You're obsessively checking how well your posts are doing
  • You go on your phone to do something but your fingers automatically take you to social media and then you forget what you're supposed to be doing
  • You feel anxious when you open any of the social media apps
  • You have creative block
  • You're falling into the comparison trap
  • You're feeling like an impostor or feel like you're not good enough
  • Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc are beginning to dominate your thoughts

How can you have your own digital detox? 

  • Leave your phone or devices in another room
  • Delete the apps (for just a weekend if you know you'll be tempted)
  • Go away somewhere and try to take in the surroundings rather than the online world
  • Tell people it is what you're going to do so if they want to contact you, not to do it through social media. That way people don't think you're ignoring them and you won't be missing out on messages you think you might have.
  • Disable push notifications so that you're not constantly being told something is going on
  • Find activities and make some plans you can distract yourself with so that you're not tempted to spend hours scrolling

I'm already planning my next trip away, but this time it's going to be a working holiday. Internet for my boyfriend, so his work goes unaffected, but just a trip of drawing and designing for me. I hope this helped and I'd love to know how you get on if you decide to give it a go yourself. 

4 comments:

  1. Social Media gets to all of us sometimes, I love going away with an excuse to switch off. congratulations on finding your balance and creativity. Yeah you! Thank you also for being so honest and reminding us we are not alone as well. ;-) Lizzy x

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    1. Finding a way to switch off is so rewarding isn't it? We are not alone, we're all in the same rocky boat called social media :) x

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  2. Hi Joanne!
    Thank you for being so honest about how you felt in this blog post. There were a lot of things in it that I could relate to and in a way it was strange for me to read that you were feeling the same way I do a lot of the time because... well... this was so different from the way I see you. To me, you're very good at what you do on Instagram, very successful in general and you seem to know what you're doing and talking about. And just to be clear, I still think you are all those things (I love your work)! I guess that at the end of the day we're all in the same boat despite what our curated social media lives may lead us to believe. I am really glad that in the end you were able to relax and enjoy yourself! This is a very valuable lesson to all of us. Thanks a lot for sharing! Camille x

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    1. Hi Camille! It was something I had to be honest about because it's so easy to hide in your own little pretty curated world and not let people know the real goings on. So I do like to keep it real where I can. I'm sorry to hear that you've been feeling the same way but hopefully you'll be able to take some time away from it too and come back feeling refreshed :) x

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