For more reasons than it would seem necessary, two weeks ago I was apart from my iPhone for several hours. The digital detox was far from planned but in hindsight, it was a welcome relief.

When you stop to think about it, there are few objects we own that we leave home without. I spend every day with my wallet, my phone, my keys (and my very special Samuel Adams keychain—a token from a faraway home). These are things I touch and use, I see and hold, every day. And not just that they’re always with me. Can you remember the last time you left home without your phone?

* * *

It was liberating. But the strangest thing: I barely even noticed I was without it. There were a few moments when I felt the phantom vibration, but it was just an empty pocket. There was the moment that I stumbled on a gay rights protest and wished I had a camera, but that moment passed. (That was a tough one actually. The Enough is Enough group set off hundreds of white balloons which floated up into the sky among Potsdamer Platz’s skyscrapers. So beautiful. And rather than trying to capture it with my camera phone, I just stood there and watched gay couples embrace to the music of Judy Garland).

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m far from an advocate against connectivity. I’ve gotten into debates and arguments with friends (and boyfriends) about my cell phone usage. It’d be safe to day that I am addicted to Twitter, or Facebook. Hell, even Instagram I find myself using everyday. Its a bit complicated because many of these things are at least somewhat necessary for my business. And on the occasional sponsored media/promotional trips that I take, social media usage can make a big impact on the promotion. I like social media, and I use it as much for work as I do for fun. I think that’s part of what makes this blog successful.

Sunday in Berlin
Sunday in Berlin. With so many stores closed, sometimes the only thing to do is to just go for a walk

So it was on Sunday when I’d left behind my phone when going out for the day. It wasn’t planned and in fact it was hard to do. I sat there in my room consciously making the decision to leve without my phone. To go outside with no watch, no phone, no camera. And you know what? The world did not end.

On this one day, this Sunday with my iPhone, I felt calm and comfortable. It may have only been a few hours out of my week, but judging by the follow-up reaction from friends (see below), it’s something we could all stand to do more often. And when coming back that evening, picking up my phone (with zero missed calls or messages!), I realized something important. A few hours disconnected only makes you that much more connected to the world.

 

I wouldn’t suggesting completely disowning technology, but the occasional digital detox can do wonders to your mental health. And now I feel just a little bit less addicted to social media. Try it yourself and let me know here if you’ve ever taken a digital detox. What did you learn?

Please note some posts do make me some money but I never sacrifice my integrity in exchange for a favorable review. Read the full disclosure policy.

12 comments

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  1. That is such an insanely important thing to remember… it doesn’t even have to be a day without your phone on you. It can just be a day you did not check your twitter or facebook. I don’t know why it is so hard to do that, but I know it always, always does me good when I manage to do it!

  2. Life can’t be too bad, going for a walk in Berlin is a very pleasant thing to do. I hear you about the iphone (or other brand). We have a rule of no phones at the dinner table and indeed, by the bed – lest we lose the skill of talking face to face.

  3. Before I went travelling I loved my phone, but when we got to New Zealand after months of being phone-free in Asia, I was really reluctant to buy a new one. My friend and I shared a brick of a phone while we were looking for jobs, but I kind of liked not being so attached to something.
    Finally my boyfriend gave me his really, really old iphone, and I was slowly lured back in. Then last year I got a Galaxy S3 and started blogging, and now I am completely addicted! I’m going back to Asia next week and I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to reject having a phone so easily this time. It will be handy for taking photos of things when I don’t have my camera on me.
    The Enough is Enough protest sounds like the perfect photo op, I’m sorry you didn’t get a photo of it! :)

  4. I lost my phone and was without it for a few days. I thought I would die but surprisingly, it was such a relief.

  5. It does feel great doesn’t it! I went for a walk with my mom last weekend & did not bring my phone or camera. There were a lot of random little things I wish I could have taken a picture of but I think the feeling of being discounted was worth not getting the picture!

  6. I think all of us we should stay away from our “phones” once a while.. to disconnect from the virtual world and get rest, stay with the familly and remove all the stress from day by day.Sometimes we should apart all the distractive things like phones,iphones and androids.I was in this situation and felt great! no work phones, noone to bother.Best regards, nice and usefull post.

  7. I honestly never even had an iPhone (or any smartphone) until recently. It’s certainly changed the way I function since I’m now constantly on it. Luckily, in a few up-coming trips I plan not to get a SIM card so I can hopefully just relax a bit.

  8. I can relate also about the vibrating phone even it was just an empty pocket, it happened to me once when I left my phone in my house and I thought someone calling me but I realized that I left my phone. I badly admit that I’m a social media addict too, I use my Instagram daily, posting pictures or just searching different users.

  9. Life is richer in many respects when technology isn’t distracting us … it does make our life better, but spending sometime apart is warranted!

  10. I know what you mean Adam. I do feel the need of constantly be connected and checking what’s happening (mainly for business reasons to) but I love to have a ‘detox’, as you called it, every now and than, it’s almost therapeutic for me.

  11. The phantom vibration – this is all too familiar ! I would absolutely love not to have a phone – I find them extremely irritating, especially so when you’re trying to interact with someone who is too busy interacting with their phone! In reality not having a phone would make having any form of social life extremely difficult !

  12. I forgot my phone at home one day for more than 12 hrs and was worried that I would miss emergency texts or emails from friends/work. Came home and everything was okay. It made me happy and sad at the same time. Happy that nothing tragic had happened while I was disconnected but sad that no one bothered to see where I was for 12 hrs ;(

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