Recently my fiance and I had a night away to reset - he was starting a new job and I had not long been in mine so a change of scenery sounded perfect. On the drive there we made a deal. We realised that recently we'd spent every night in front of the TV, heads buried in our phones without much interaction or conversation. So we made a deal 24 hours with minimal phone use. Completely banning it wasn't going to work and that's okay.
I am a self confessed phone addict. I am always on Instagram, checking emails or scrolling mindlessly through Facebook. I go out with friends and I get so fixated on getting the perfect picture and sharing it on social media to show that I have a life, that in fact I end up missing out on actually enjoying what's right in front of me.
Whilst sometimes we all need to have down time, I realised that my obsession with everyone else's life through social media and FOMO was in fact causing me to miss out on so many actual real life and wonderful moments. I wasn't being fully present when I was spending time with loved ones so something needed to change.
So back to the deal we made. We left our phones in our room whilst we explored our hotel, went for swim and had a drink at the bar. It was so refreshing and so relaxing. I realised how much I had missed his company. Sounds crazy when we live together, but we were so caught up in our phones that we had kind off just forgotten to actually enjoy just being with one another. Fast forward a few hours later and we were watching movies. Now here is the part that both of us generally pull out our phones and kind of half watch a movie. But this time we didn't - we watched three movies completely phone free and it was so much calmer and more enjoyable. I can actually tell you about the movies we watched, instead of only half getting the story line.
I can become so fixated on getting the perfect Instagram picture whenever we go anywhere vaguely new. Picture this - fiance taking photo after photo and me becoming more and more annoyed because it isn't perfect, all whilst he becomes more disengaged. Sound familiar? I am all about getting an "insta-worthy" picture, but this time I decided to actively avoid taking photos and instead just being. Because I wasn't focused on sharing our holiday we actually spoke together about what we were seeing and exploring - something we often forget to do because of our phone obsession. Honestly, I can say we actually forgot about taking photos! Whilst I love a photo for memory's sake I loved the freedom of enjoying everything without the view through a tiny phone screen.
I'm not saying that phones and social media are the enemy. In fact they are wonderful tools which keep us connected and provide a creative outlet. I run a blog and an Instagram account so I am not about to preach that social media is the enemy. But I do believe that it shouldn't replace the real life interactions we have.
Come the end of the 24 hours and we both couldn't believe how much calmer we both were and how much more we'd enjoyed each other's company without our phones. Personally for me, that anxiety of missing someone's post on Instagram was gone. I've realised it doesn't matter if I miss a post but it does matter if I miss a moment with my loved ones.
So where to from here? I'm not going to lie and say we don't still get fixated on our phones and forget to actually talk each other. Of course we do! But we now make an effort to cook and eat phone free, and talk about our day. And next time I'm out with friends? Well I'll be making a conscious effort to pop my phone in my bag and just enjoy being present.
My top 3 tips for switching off:
1. Start small - maybe have your morning coffee without your phone
2. Put your phone away during dinner and just enjoy your meal and the people you're with. Sit at the table and chat about your day.
3. Remember the world won't stop if you miss one post on social media. Being present in your real life is so much more important that being present online.
Sending Good Vibes,