Hello! It’s Olivia and Maria checking in. How was your two-week digital detox? We wanted to recap our own experience with the challenge before diving-in to challenge 2, kicking off on March 1: Spring cleaning!  

Thanks to the natural health experts at Bastyr University, who have generously sponsored this series, we’re off to great start in 2019.

Why don’t you begin, Maria—how’d you do with your digital detox?

Maria: Did I stick with it? About 99% on the TV side. I broke on the second Friday and had a movie night. I learned from it though, because It was nice to make popcorn, have the family activity—and shut the TV off afterward.

Kind of bombed on the social media side. As a result of not watching TV, I’d allow myself to get sucked into the vortex of Instagram stories. This would happen compulsively and subconsciously, as if my body and mind craved the visual stimulation. I’d be watching five minutes of nonsense from random highlights of the Ellen Show to dogs in puffer jackets playing in the snow before realizing that I wasn’t supposed to be doing it. For whatever reason, this was most difficult to manage on the second weekend.

I also had tons of work to do beyond the 8:30am to 6:30pm hours I had set for myself, and without TV, it was a good excuse to spend up to 16 hours a day on my laptop screen.

Olivia: I’m really impressed with your commitment, Maria. While my challenge was to limit my TV time to one hour per day, I definitely didn’t accomplish that. I’d say I was about 50% successful in my detox. I’d like to blame the stormy weather we had over the last two weeks which begged for cozying up on the couch with a movie. Or perhaps it was just a lack of discipline. In any case, I’m fessing up to a less than perfect attempt at a digital detox.

However, I did find staying off of my phone much easier. Since I use social media for work, it was easy to step away from it when I didn’t need to be on it. In fact, I felt like the time I spent on any of my devices was very intentional, which was a major improvement.

With confessions out of the way, did you notice any breakthroughs related to your wellness goals for this challenge?

Maria: Between all the work, occasional social media rule breaking, and keeping the TV off, I was able to carve out more time to rest and take better care of myself (which was what I needed above anything else).

The biggest benefit came from not watching TV.  My son picked up on better TV habits too. He would kick me out of the living room while watching a movie, but shut the TV off after the movie was over to spent time playing with me instead of trying to squeeze in an episode of something else. This was never a customary practice before and it has not been the practice in the week since my TV privileges were restored.  

My son especially enjoyed policing me through the process, but I’m happy my intention to reduce screen time rubbing off on him.  We also accomplished some major cleaning, moved furniture, and enjoyed more time together. I’d tell him stories about how we didn’t even have cell phones or internet when I was a kid, and he’d say ”WOW” with big disbelieving eyes.

Olivia: I love that your son was not only keeping you honest, but also joined in on parts of the challenge. One of the biggest ways I limited my TV time was getting out of the house during the day. It was a great excuse to check out some coffee shops and when I didn’t need a drink or bite, I headed to the public library. Overall, just being outside of the house made the time spent on my computer more productive and purposeful.

Like you, I felt I had more energy and used it to tackle some things around the house. I guess we got a head start on the spring cleaning, because I finally went through my junk drawers and organized stacks of paperwork that were haunting me. I also spent more time in the kitchen as a result of thumbing through magazines and cookbooks I rediscovered during a cleaning binge.

Even if we weren’t perfect during out digital detox, I think our effort made a difference.

Maria: Overall, I gained what I wanted from it: I’m more mindful of the additional sensory distraction of having the TV on in the background all the time. There was an internal nagging voice that wanted to turn on the TV when I was bored the first couple weeks, and then it was gone on the 15th day when I could have turned it back on. Since the challenge has ended, I’ve barely watched anything, mostly because I’ve been sleeping better—going to bed at more reasonable and responsible hour instead of streaming another episode. I’ve also noticed that I'm sleeping deeper, for longer periods of time, like a full eight hours, and I usually wake up every few hours.

For a no-cost change in lifestyle, I was able to gain more energy and an overall better mood after just two weeks. Isn’t that what real wellness is about?

Olivia: I completely agree. I love that it was a no-cost way to improve our wellness. In fact I may have saved money with all the extra home cooking I was doing instead of ordering delivery. I’ve found myself leaving the TV off even after ending the detox and the fact that I notice it gives me a little something to celebrate. I’m absolutely more mindful of the choices I make when it comes to screens and devices in my home, which was one of the main goals I had for the challenge.

Challenge 2: Spring Cleaning

Maria: I’m looking forward to this next challenge. Spring cleaning! (And do I need it.) I confess that my Tidying Up phase started a little over two years ago after a client had done it in her home and shared the basics. My goal in the first two weeks of March is to get my home tidied up, along with my carport storage cabinet, which I haven’t opened in two years (yikes). This includes selling or donating our excess items to AMVETS, and making sure that anything unusable is either recycled or disposed of properly.

I don't know the scientific connection between spring cleaning and wellness, but I find it mentally refreshing to get everything shiny and dusted, vacuum away all the cobwebs, and have open space—even if it only lasts a for a few days.

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About the Contributor
Maria Hesse
Edible San Diego's executive editor is a personal chef and lifestyle designer, podcaster on Modern Casserole, amateur pug photographer, grant writer for Media Arts Center San Diego, and co-author of The Intentionalist Cooks. Find her on Instagram @mariafromediblesd.