When was the last time you went three full days without looking at your phone?
I did it this week – and it was genuinely amazing.
Three nights in an Unplugged Cabin in a lush corner of the English countryside. In the evening, when the mellow light fell on the treetops, it was like stepping into a painting by Constable.
Upon arrival, and as instructed, I locked my iPhone in the supplied box. Though I’m not really a slave to the screen, I did expect to feel some withdrawal symptoms during the three days. You know, the occasional itch to scroll through Instagram or check WhatsApp.
But I honestly felt none of that. No FOMO at all.
What I felt was free. From distraction. From the news cycle. From the duty to interact. From the temptation to record everything. From worrying about whether someone somewhere was having a better than I was.
What I gained was peace and presence. With no weapon of mass distraction in my pocket, I felt more alive to the moment.
Sure, there were a couple of times when, while standing before a glorious view, I missed not being able to take a photo. But even that came with a silver lining.
Unable to record the moment quickly, I savoured it slowly. I lingered and let my mind wander. I felt all five senses coming into play. I made my own memories.
What I particularly enjoyed was reclaiming those interstitial moments of the day when nothing much is happening. When you’re waiting in line, say, or stuck at a red light.
With a phone to hand, the natural impulse is to fill those in-between times by checking messages or glancing at social media.
With no phone, those moments turn into little gifts of calm. A time to pause, observe, breathe, feel, reflect, reset.
I enjoyed being phone-less so much that I didn’t switch mine back on even after retrieving it from the padlocked box. Instead, I went for another long hike and only fired it back up once I was all the way home.
How I use my phone will now change. I’ll start by leaving it at home more often. I will also experiment with those settings that limit access to social media.
So, if you hear from me a little less in future, it’s not you, it’s me!
What can you do to feel less oppressed by your phone?