Let your phone die and be bored.
Last weekend I went camping with my family in Central Oregon. There was little cell-phone coverage and I found myself hardly able to access the Internet while at the camp site. I had the intention of not using my phone, but this is easier said than done.
The previous week, I had been using my phone, computer and technology too much. I found myself bouncing from one app to another, checking updates and emails and notifications. I would close one app, open up a new one, check it, close it, then go back to the other app I just literally just closed. I was going insane.
Shortly after arriving, I let my phone die on purpose, then put it in my bag. Other family members were charging their phones, but why? What was so important that they needed to check their phones while in nature? The next few hours after letting my phone die, I started to get some anxiety. I felt as though I was missing out on something.
“To hell with my phone!” I thought to myself. I was surrounded by beautiful nature and wanted to soak up each moment without having to manage my online life. Now I was only responsible for living and enjoying myself in this moment. And this moment. And this moment.
The hours started to pass and the anxiety started to fade. Not being sucked into a phone all day is natural for human beings. Eventually my anxiety dissolved after I decided to completely let go, but I had to consciously make that decision. If I hadn’t done this, some anxiety would still be eating at my subconscious.
The next morning, the warmth of the sun gently woke me up. Birds were chirping, the skies were blue and the crackling of the fire was soothing. Instead of checking my phone (which was definitely still dead), I sat by the fire and drank some coffee. I could have easily plugged my phone in for power but I knew that by doing so, it would only induce feelings of anxiety. It would put my mind somewhere else rather than where I actually was in that moment. By living presently, without having a reactive state of mind, I simply focused on “being.” It felt as though a weight had been lifted — it was a liberating realization.
When I strolled through the camping area, I noticed people who were glued to their phones… in nature, surrounded by the beauty of the natural world, staring into those small, black screens. It was a shocking number of people who thought that phone-time camping was a better use of time than actually camping — hiking, grilling, talking, etc.
Now, on day three, we were heading back home. I could’ve plugged my phone in and checked everything that I had missed on the car ride home. But I didn’t want to do that… I was now experiencing a state of mind where I was trying to push it off re-immersion for as long as I could. I knew that if I checked it, it would unravel a series of thoughts, distractions and worries. I finally checked my phone later that evening, and I’m glad I did. Yep, I didn’t miss a thing and confirmed that my initial feelings of anxiety on day one were irrational.
Taking digital resets sounds intuitive. It sounds easy. It sounds like something we all should be doing, but we just don’t. There are different types of digital resets. For example, one might fast from social media for a few days, but you’re still in a reactive state of mind when your phone is simply turned on. It’s important to have the phone (and other devices) off or dead (not on silent) in order to maximize the experience.
I’d encourage you to give it a shot. Try completely disconnecting from your devices for 24-48 hours. Go without any technology and be observant about how you’re feeling and monitor your emotions. If you’re finding that your anxiety is increasing, try consciously deciding to let go completely. Immerse yourself in the experience you’re undertaking in the present moment.
We’re constantly surrounded by technology, and without taking mindful breaks from the digital world, we’re hurting ourselves. By allowing ourselves designated times away from our devices, we can train ourselves to feel more comfortable when they’re not around.
Let’s take control over our consumption rather than letting our devices control us. There’s tranquility to be found if we’re willing to be bored.