I Gave Up My Phone at Night for 5 Days: Here's What Happened
It's no secret to my close friends and family, I am a workaholic. Some struggle with drug addiction, alcohol addiction or even gambling addiction, for me it's 100% a work addiction and it sucks. Sometimes I feel like I cannot escape work and it's very normal for me to go weeks without taking a day off. One of the biggest downsides is my email and phone addiction. On an average day I refresh my email at least 50 times... FIFTY! I mean, who does that?
Work emails were keeping me up late into the night out of fear of missing something important. That's when my coach asked me... would they die? She said, let's get real for a minute, "if you didn't answer them right away, will they die?" Of course not. That's ridiculous. So why do I care so much? I'm addicted to it. So here was my challenge; from 9pm to 8am no phone whatsoever. That meant, no texts, no Instagram, no twitter, and especially no emails. For 11 hours I would be completely unplugged.
I was downright terrified. What if I missed something important? What would I do if I got bored, anxious, stressed? Well, I'd just deal with it. I'm not going to lie that first night was miserable. Every time I wasn't doing something I couldn't stop thinking about the endless mound of messages I'd have to get back to at 8am the next morning. I was in my version of hell.
By night two I wasn't really thinking about missing my phone anymore. Sure it popped into my head a few times and I wondered what I might be missing, but mostly I was able to just relax and be present in whatever moment I was living in. On night three something incredible happened, I wanted to give up my phone. I was actually excited for that 11 hours of unplugged bliss. So in 3 days I managed to go from literal panic at the thought of my phone not being glued to my hand to actually happily anticipating the moment I got to give it up for the night. Interesting, it takes a similar amount of time to detox drugs or alcohol from your system...
What I Learned: I am without a doubt a workaholic and 100% addicted to my phone. But you know what, that's okay because I am also 100% capable of dealing with that addiction in a healthy way.
Did Anyone Die? Nope. Everyone was perfectly fine without me for those 11 hours every night. In all honesty, this bothered me at first. I felt like I wasn't needed, but then I realized how amazing that was, that for 11 hours a day, no one would need me, except for me. For 11 hours a day I could take care of myself and myself only.
What I Noticed: I felt less stressed when I woke up and it was easier to fall asleep. Overall I haven't noticed earth shattering differences, but I have all the confidence that after a few weeks of not waking up stressed and falling asleep easier, I will notice differences in my overall stress and anxiety levels.
Next Steps: This is a habit I will implement going forward on weeknights. Sometimes weekends are hard as I am not always home by 9pm, but even on weekends I plan to give up phone up 1 hour before I head to bed. I encourage everyone to try this just for one week. Get an old-school alarm clock and ditch the phone for at least 10 hours per night and really tune in to what you notice changes.