Yes, I admit it: social media and my smartphone occupy a big place in my life. I record my videos for social media through my smartphone, I post my content online, I check your comments on instagram and facebook daily, and I’m aware that without social media, you probably would never have found me. But that doesn’t mean that I let it take over my life. In my work with clients, removing excessive stimuli is a very important part that not only creates more peace but also a sea of time and because there are a lot less stressors I also see weight loss and significant improvement in health time after time. So I thought it was important to write a blog about it in my absence from the digital world. I know I can do you a favor with it, too 😉 .
Are you glued to your phone or computer?
Some people these days seem to be glued to their smartphone, tablet or laptop. How often do I hear customers say that they had a panic attack or at least a very unpleasant, unsafe feeling when they go for a walk without their phone in their pocket, for example. When I was little, there were no smartphones and we could not be reached everywhere. A telephone was still an unwieldy thing with a dial and push buttons. And it sometimes happened that it just didn’t work. Well, that’s just the way it was. My mom also made it a habit to unplug the phone during family movie nights or when we watched our weekly episode of Twin Peaks. Because recording a series back then wasn’t as simple as it is now (remember the video tapes that got stuck in your camera?) pressing pause was definitely not an option. It was wonderful! We would sit on the couch with lemonade and crisps and watch something from beginning to end. And then looking forward to the next week for the next episode, because binge-watching didn’t exist back then.
And then now: instant gratifications, everything now, everything immediately, everything at once, never rest, constant stimuli, sounds of incoming messages, vibrating devices, the FOMO fear of missing out, … I see with regret how this is causing the necessary damage in our society.
How are you doing?
How often do you look at your phone? According to studies we look at our phone about 5 times an hour on average but in my practice I see much higher numbers that this. No wonder we are all over-stimulated and burnout has become the disease of the age alongside sedentariness. Through the standard app in your phone, on my Apple devices that is ios screen time but you can also install other apps such as Social Fever, Freedom, Space, Off The Grid, … If you have no idea how it is with your screen time then it is sometimes a good idea to measure it. It may sound crazy to do that through your devices and go digital again but measuring is knowing and then you already know a bit more about how bad your digital addiction is.
If you don’t want to install an app then you can just turn off your device completely and note how fast you miss it and want to reach for it… Quicker than you think.
Take a digital detox vacation.
One of the assignments that clients get from me is to do a digital detox. That can go from a full day without, a weekend without or even a whole vacation without that smartphone or laptop. Quite a tough assignment for most. And it is for me too, mind you. But it is a very powerful exercise that also teaches you that your happiness does not depend on that thing in your hand. A whole world opens up for many when they let go of it and it has numerous benefits that I list below to motivate you to give a digital detox a chance.
The benefits of digital detox
While you are on your phone you forget to use your time to live. Arguing that you don’t have time to exercise, go for a walk, cook healthy meals, go out for a drink with your family or friends, read a book, finish a project… No more of those excuses. Make time to create real memories in the real world.
I know: for many who go through life alone without a partner or who just feel lonely, that digital world is often a way to pass your time and feel less lonely. I have every sympathy for that. But I also see that being glued to your screen alone on the couch leads to being more and more lonely. That’s why I tell clients to make an appointment with someone in a café for a good pint or a cup of coffee, to go for a walk with someone, to sign up for a new hobby or a club, … going outside is what you need to get out of that lonely spiral. And I know, that’s not always so easy. I had to deal with it after my divorce too, and a good, then new friend of mine pointed it out to me at the time and literally took me out at a bar. I am still grateful to her for that. Café therapy for everyone!
If you have read my books then you know that in all of them I talk about stress hormones and their impact on your health and also your weight. Well, your phone is also a source of stress because the constant disturbance by all those sounds makes you feel stressed all the time. The effects of that are really much greater than you think. So without a phone you are taking away a very important source of stimuli and that is just what you need.
Better sleep and the solution to sleep problems
Do you struggle like many with sleep problems? Then a digital detox in addition to a generally healthier, more active lifestyle is a very important factor in the solution. Don’t immediately reach for medication and a quick fix but tackle your life thoroughly. In order to fall asleep properly, your body must produce the hormone melatonin. This hormone is produced when it gets dusk in the evening and this is how you naturally become sleepy. As I post this blog I am camping and I go to sleep when it gets dark. There is nothing more blissful than sitting outside in the twilight and spontaneously starting to yawn and then crawling into your tent at an hour when you would still be at home scrolling on your phone way past your natural bedtime. Why not do the same when we’re not traveling? You can take melatonin in a bedtime supplement and I often prescribe it to clients as an alternative to sleeping pills but first and foremost you need to address your lifestyle. One of the supplements I work with is Melatonin Complex from Natural Energy, you can read more about it here and with your discount code TAKEYOUTIME you get a nice discount on their site.
Yes, weight loss is also one of the effects of a digital detox. Less production of stress hormones has a beneficial effect on your weight, especially belly fat. In addition, you immediately have a lot of extra time for exercise. A nice bonus, right?
More creativity and productivity at work
I used to brag about the fact that I could multitask well. I’ve completely come back from that thought. One thing at a time and when I’m working on something I turn off all stimuli and thus very often my phone and my mailbox. Clients who tell me they can’t finish their tasks at work and have to work through them in the evening? Almost always it has to do with the fact that they are not working with full focus and without stimuli during the day. These are the clients who have their mailbox, whatsapp, messenger,… open all the time. Those sounds alone bring you out of your concentration so you take much longer to complete a task and your margin for error is also much higher. And above all: it makes you extremely stressed and you come home completely exhausted.
Family time? Out with friends? TURN OFF THAT PHONE! If you make time for each other, make time for each other. Agree to turn off your phone completely. I also often take off my smartwatch from Apple to really be in the moment. And do you really need to share a selfie or what you’re eating? Do you need to share where you are on vacation? Complete waste of time. Be there for each other and LISTEN with all your energy. You will see that this has a very positive effect on family relationships and creates more depth in your circle of friends.
How do you start a digital detox?
Social moments: the digibox
When you are with family or friends, have everyone turn off their phones completely and put them away in a nice box, for example. A nice gesture of true friendship.
Start your day without
Start your day with your cup of coffee but without your phone. I usually don’t switch my phone on until 8 a.m. I only check social media after that. Blissful! Enjoying a cup of coffee, some writing in my journal, prayer and time for a short work-out.
Turn off notifications
Turn off all notifications from your apps and email. No sounds, no stimuli. Everything off. Afraid something will happen and you won’t be reachable? If you really expect a phone call, ask them to call you in the old-fashioned way. And do you really need to be available? In the past we didn’t have that either and life ran its course….
Bedtime is bedtime
No phone in the bedroom. Use an old-fashioned alarm clock to get up. And do you want to use your phone? Then set it to private. In my Iphone I can set what I do and do not want to hear. When my daughter goes out I only hear her messages and calls. As soon as she gets home I turn everything off.
Want to check your mail or messages before going to bed? NO and again NO! What’s the point? You can’t solve the problems now anyway. The world won’t end if you stop looking at your messages and you’ll be better equipped to deal with the problems tomorrow. And often they are also solved on their own as a miracle when you turn on your phone at 8 am.
Schedule your screen time.
I only check my mailbox 2-3 times a day. The rest is work time. I get so much more done. So when people ask me why I don’t respond right away I tell them I’d rather do my job well so they are satisfied with my work and not how fast I respond. Work time is work time. So no multitasking and being the fastest in responses. Also think about how many messages and emails you send, are they all necessary? Done working is also completely done. And then you do not quickly go beeping. Recharge your battery in peace. Tomorrow you will be all the more productive.
Finally. About Digital Detox.
I challenge you to plan some more digital detox this summer and keep the habit during the rest of the year. Instead of scrolling on your phone you now have time to read one of my books. 😜 Do you need help with such a digital detox or weight loss or building more exercise into your life or could your colleagues or employees use it too? Send me an email…I’ll answer it after my digital detox after August 15. More TAKE YOU TIME moments, that’s my wish for you. Have a great summer!
My name is Lies Helsloot and I call myself the first TAKE YOU TIME™ Expert. I am the author of 3 health books (“Walk Yourself Slim & Happy. How taking More Steps can Change Your Life”, “Move yourself slim and happy”(English translation coming soon) and “The Complete Guide to healthy Hair“), I blog here at takeyoutime.com and coach individual clients, groups and companies around the world to a happy, healthy life and more work-life balance with my 7-step concept of self-care called TAKE YOU TIME™. For more motivation and free training and challenges, be sure to sign up for the newsletter on this site and follow me on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Or get in touch to know about my online- and coaching programs.
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