The Snapshot

Over thirty days ago, I embarked on the ultimate detox. This involved – get ready – no social media, no TV and no alcohol for thirty days. Say what!?

What started out as a digital detox journey to  become more aware of how I use digital devices, became a challenge to also include no mindless television and no binge drinking (which used to happen quite frequently with friends).  I would often catch myself flicking on reality TV shows, watching TV in the background as ‘white noise’, whilst mindless scrolling through Instagram feeds, or waiting for the weekend for the weekly piss up. I was not spending quality time with my surroundings, let alone with myself. I think we’re all somewhat guilty of any of these three vices and how we consume technology and social life.

Because I was feeling uninspired, distracted, unfocused, and down, I wanted to see what it was like to rediscover what  it  would be like to reconnect with myself and others in other ways – hence the ultimate 30-day-detox. Some people said I couldn’t do it – including my own family members. Some friends thought I was crazy going ‘cold turkey’ for 30 days straight. But I had the willpower, the determination and grit to do get it done. I hoped that a 30-day  break on these distractions would help me open my eyes my surroundings, and become more conscious of myself.

The Process

From the 19th of April to the 19th of May, 2018, I embarked on my 30-day-digital and alcohol detox. Before the ditox commenced, I made sure all my family, friends and people on my social networks that I was going to be ‘gone’ for a while and to contact me via SMS or phone – the old school way. I made sure the tv remote was kept away, and then I deleted all social media apps including Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Whatsapp and turned off all notifications from apps. And for going out to bars and dinners, I made sure the alcohol detox was intact, so I ordered lots of juices and mocktails.

I am a firm believer of anything and everything in moderation, so when it was my friend’s baby shower, I had one glass of Prosecco to celebrate with her. And when a cocktail at a restaurant was made especially for yours truly, of course, I had to taste test it.

However, there were some great challenges along the way as well, including handwriting birthday cards, using the phone only for music and Google maps, buying books and believe it or not I was finding pleasure in visiting bookstores again.

The Results

I think anyone who does any form of detox would embark of a unique journey. For me, I wanted to go ‘all in’ and put all my efforts into becoming more self-aware of technology or alcohol use, and be more in tune and reconnect with myself.

In my 30-day-ditox, I formed new experiences, new findings and new habits. These are:

  • Although the phone can be considered a negative device for mindless social media time-wasting, it is also a very useful tool for navigation (Google Maps) and to gain quick general knowledge (via Google) allowing one to become more efficient at times of need (let’s put the emphasis on times of need ok!?)
  • Replaced checking my morning ritual of social media and email checking with every day ritual of drinking warm lemon water (with a straw so it doesn’t ruin your teeth), with 20 quick push-ups and 50 squats instead
  • Pre-eating phase, less photo taking of meals, more time taken to appreciate the eating phase
  • I either put my phone away in my bag or placed it screen-down on the table. If I was the first one to check my phone, I would shout my friend lunch. (!)
  • Although I ended up going out more to see friends face-to-face, I was more mindful about where I was going, which restaurant or which drink I would purchase so that I would not over-spend. Overall, I spent quality time with friends as opposed to half being there not in the present or being at home and chatting with them aimlessly on Watsapp.
  • Cared less about online FOMO (fear of missing out of what was happening online) because I felt like if I wanted to make something happen, I could create that opportunity, simply by picking up the phone or SMS a friend and catch up/go out!
  • Did notice myself using SMS more than usual, like a chat function, and expecting a fast response (and also getting restless if they hadn’t replied as fast as I had expected them to if we were both on Whatsapp). The constant SMSing became ‘annoying’ for one of my friends because of how I would press ‘Enter’ after every typing every phrase so they would receive a lot of notifications/pinging sounds.
  • Grateful for the new experiences I encountered during this detox, such as  realising how important my phone can  be, but at the same time, how important your surroundings are. Being away from my phone was now OK, because I  was less anxious and restless if I wasn’t checking notifications and social media feeds.
  • Realised there were a very select number of apps I would use on a daily basis. These included: Weather, Calendar, Clock, Bank app, Phone, Messages (SMS), LinkedIn (for professional work purposes), Headspace (for meditation) and Spotify (music).

Key Takeaways

What did I learn from this ultimate 30-day-ditox? That every day counted on me being conscious about not using social media, watching TV or drinking alcohol (although there were two drinks that I did have to celebrate special occasions). I loved that each day brought on a new challenge, whether it be forming a habit, getting rid of old ones. I loved that Week 1 was the toughest, but then after the first week passed, the rest was easy.  I realised I was addicted to social media (not so much TV or alcohol), as well as addicted to simply checking my phone to see if any notifications had come through, even though I didn’t receive any pings  or sounds coming through. After Week 2 & 3, things became much easier. Week 4 was a breeze and as time flew by, I realised I didn’t need over half the apps I have downloaded onto my phone. I realised I didn’t care which Bachelor (from TV) was at the same bar I was at, because I didn’t really care about reality TV nor The Bachelor. I’ve refreshed my phone, my friendships, books that I’m reading. I’m feeling more inspired by the activities my friends are doing in real life, rather than what they’re posting online. I also learnt to have more self-awareness and self-control, especially when it came to ordering drinks and checking the phone. I hope my experiences have taught me new ways of living well, and that my new habits will continue to stick to me after this Ditox.

I would like to send special ‘thank yous’ to my friends and family who had faith in me and who challenged me in the first place. Being a digital marketer myself as my day job definitely proved to be a challenge. For the record, I still used social media but only for work purposes (under a different account).

Now, I challenge you to do a Ditox – whether it be a social media, TV or alcohol detox. What do you think? Can you do it? Can you take up the challenge? I guarantee you it might be easier than you think!