On today's Mindful Monday we are going to talk about this concept called Digital Detox. I recently enrolled in the six-week-shift program with Scott Riley of the causeway living. It’s an accountability group to help me improve in 6 areas of health. One of the tasks was the digital detox. The rule is I must be done with all electronics by 10 p.m. or at least 1 hour before bed to go to sleep by 11 p.m. The same concept I preached if you go back and check out the 6 steps on how to sleep like a baby. The episode really really helps if you have a sleep problem, you can’t sleep or if you can’t stop thinking. Go check out the previous episode there. The acronym was U.S.L.E.E.P. and the first step to a good night sleep is unplugging 1 hour before bed. I know firsthand the benefit of unplugging before bed but have not been very consistent lately.
I was not being accountable for the first 6 days I didn’t go a day without being able to shut down for at least 60 minutes before bed and my excuse was I needed to work on the podcast, etc. When I finally forced myself to do it, it felt so good I have not missed a day since! It has made such a profound change in my life. If you are stressed, overwhelmed, and can’t sleep or can’t seem to shut your mind off. This will help you as well. I'll make a rare guarantee right now!
Here is what I found in the past 2 weeks when I refrained from my phones 1 hour before bed.
- Freedom - I know some of you listeners might be thinking what the hell are you talking about Dr. Jon? Freedom from what? I’m not lock in a cage!! I am a free human being with a free mind. The answer is Freedom from the Human Data Stream. Which is the term I pulled from the book “The Well Life” by Briana and Dr. Peter Bortens. It's the freedom to be here and now. I know it sound cliche but I think we as a society are using the phone so much that the electronics have the power over us more than we realize. So number one is the freedom from our mechanical extension and the freedom to be with myself uninterrupted.
- Less compulsive - I’ve been catching myself checking my phones for no reason. I mean no reason at all besides just to see if there is anything going on in my email inbox and social media feed. Even though I turned off all notifications except text messages. Meaning I have to physically press the app to know that there is an update. I still became somewhat compulsive about that and I didn’t like that particular behavior. The digital detox required me to essentially set up a new boundary. The new rule is “I don’t” participate in any screen time 1 hour before bed. Not “I can’t”. I train my brain to be aware of my own compulsion and have A MENTAL DISCIPLINE to not follow any random thoughts that come up, Like “I wonder the name of the show that my friend mentioned to me earlier today” or “I wonder when’s Amy’s birthday so I can buy her a gift in advance”. The benefit of being connected to google or “The Human Data Stream” is that I can find out the answers to those questions immediately. But the downside is I am spoiling my mind, I am following my mind wherever it takes me. Or I am being dragged by my mind wherever it takes me, even during a period of deep work. That can be very disruptive to me getting anything done. So during the day where I have access to my phone and emails, I see my own desire to check the phone and I have more control over it.
- Less Anxiety - I noticed that the phone is the source of restlessness. Since it’s the access to the collective human data stream. Something is always up. Something interesting, something stimulating, whether it’s the news or updates or whatever. There’s always something that catches your attention. The question is "what kind of emotion does it trigger? and are those worth GIVING OR SPENDING your attention to? Because the information is mostly out of our control, and when we can't change it or do anything about it that makes us anxious.
- Better Sleep The research shows that blue light or lights emitted from the LED screens interrupt your circadian rhythm, your natural biological clock. It disrupts the production of melatonin which is the hormones that help improve your sleep.
- Focus - By refraining from the gadgets and screen at least 1 hour before bed allows me a window of time in the day that is electronic free. With the discipline I built in the short 2 weeks of digital detoxing only 1 hour a day, I notice a considerable improvement in my ability to focus and do deeper work.
I don’t think the phone is evil. But I do believe with certainty that I have the tendencies to abuse it. And I am sharing this to find you all.
I encourage you to assess and examine your behavior, your relationship with your phones and your electronics. Do you tend to get compulsive with it and if so have you noticed that lately?
I encourage you to assess and examine your relationship with work, do you bring work to bed? Are you answering emails in your pajamas or in bed? Are you thinking about the project are people that you have to get back to because you have so much to do and so many things to be completed?
Do you notice that you had a hard time fall asleep lately? Do you know this bad you have to play a movie or watch TV to help you go to bed?
If you answer is yes to any of those questions you should consider trying digital detox.