This weekend I attended a women's retreat in the beautiful British countryside. A couple of days before I left, I made the decision to turn my phone off for the duration of my trip. No email, no Whatsapp & definitely no social media.
Just me, a large green space, yoga, mindfulness and delicious food. The funny thing was, I was a little embarrassed that I had never voluntarily been without my phone before and the very thought of it actually made me a little anxious. Over recent weeks, I had noticed just how much time my phone spends in my hand. Whether its work, social or mapping directions I feel as though my phone is more in my hand than not.
I switched off my phone at 4 pm on Friday, one hour earlier than expected. The need to look at my phone is more FOMO than anything else. After I pushed passed the habit of getting out my phone in every silent moment the anxiety started to subside. And after a while, seeing others with phones in their hands while eating or walking around looked a little weird.
For me, the problem is not the phone itself. It's more about the data, a phone with no data is no problem. Before heading on retreat I let a few important people in my life know that they could go ‘old skool’ aka call or text me if they needed me over the weekend but thankfully no one did. My weekend was full of things to do, morning yoga classes, workshops, gatherings, foraging, x3 plant-based meals per day plus, free time in the afternoons to explore. Although my weekend was full, I felt completely relaxed and at peace with the thoughts that arrived with me.
I departed from the retreat at 4 pm on Sunday and my aim was to turn my phone back on for my journey home. But after 2 days I thought why the hell would I want to check my email on a Sunday evening after a beautiful weekend away?
I then aimed for 9 am on Monday morning. Which turned in to 11:30 am Monday morning, after breakfast, after a shower and most importantly after meditation.
Ok, so what happened when the phone went on?
Tbh, I was anxious about turning the phone back on again. funny! 3 days prior I was feeling the same about turning it off. Now the only feelings were of how overwhelmed it all made me feel. It's almost like when more than one person tries to speak at you at the same time. It becomes too much for the brain which means you can't take in any of the information. My whole aim this weekend was to take myself away without going very far. Canterbury is 56 mins away from Kings Cross and yet I feel as though I have been on the other side of the world. I laughed, I danced, I connected and jeez did I eat. The highlight has got to be a 2-hour hot tub sesh under the stars awaiting the moon rise on Saturday night. I shared and listened to others and all became clear. Here I was with a weekend of strangers, all from different backgrounds and yet we all pretty much want the same things. To be loved, to be happy and to feel as though we have planted our roots in this planet. It took me just over 60-mins to go through everything after turning my phone back on. This included replying to messages, emails plus, everything else on my to-do list. Since having my phone back my aim is to continue a few new habits throughout my day to support my own mental wellbeing.
3 Top Tips 1. Turning off my data while eating
2. Turning off my data 2 hours before sleep
3. Turning my data on after(and only after) I am washed and dressed for the day.
I will also try this for day trips out and dinners with friends.
Top Tip Try not to put your phone on the table at a restaurant or coffee shop when meeting with a friend.
We speak of self-care as a way to look after ourselves. Whether its yoga, meditation or a massage. Turning off your data I think will be the next big thing. I think we will have festivals, retreats and even holiday group trips dedicated to this. Forget 10-day silent retreat, just turn your phone off for 10 days and see how f***ing grounded you feel.