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My digital detox: What I learnt from switching off

Posted by Joe Wicks in Fitness, Wellbeing

I love social media. It's become my business and my passion. It's allowed me to connect with millions of people all over the world, share my message and inspire people to live a more active and healthy life. But I'm always trying to find a better balance with it.

Instagram gave me the opportunity to share recipes and workout ideas with more people than I could ever have imagined. It's where Lean In 15 was born and without it I would never have gotten a book deal, or been able to share my passion for fitness and healthy food with millions of people. It's brilliant for keeping in touch with friends, connecting with people and building communities. I recently launched an official support group on Facebook for clients on my 90 Day Plan, and it's been awesome to see how supportive and encouraging people can be.

But we all know that social media also has its downside. Like a lot of people I've spoken to recently, there have been times when I've been obsessive with my social media. When I first started out I was constantly on my phone, scrolling in bed, first thing in the morning and last thing at night, recording every meal I ate, constantly refreshing and replying to comments. I was so determined to grow my audience and engage with my community that social media was actually making me anti-social in real life. 

Because of social media it's easy to get distracted and to never really focus on one thing, we're always multitasking – watching TV while looking at our phones, or getting them out over dinner to Google something. I learned to speak Spanish and play the guitar when I was travelling around South America but I'd put those hobbies on the back burner because I was spending so much time on my phone. And I'm not the only one, apparently the average person checks their phone 200 times a day.

Using social media that much isn't good for us and I'm always trying to find a balance with it, and that's why I recently decided to take a week off, completely unplug and do a digital detox.

What happened when I spent a week without social media

I was going on holiday with my girlfriend and I said to her, “Look, why don't we turn off our phones , stash them in the safe and not look at them for a week?” I was a bit worried how I'd cope but it was actually really easy. I think it helped that we did it together. 

During that week we engaged with eachother so much better. We had no phones, internet, WiFi or anything and we talked loads more and had deeper conversations. I read Bruce Springsteen's autobiography and was well immersed in that. We watched films together and we were sleeping so much better - really deep and unbroken sleep because there was no alarm or distracting screen.

After a couple of days, I just felt much calmer and more focussed. My mind slowed down and I was fully present in what I was doing. It also gave me time to think and without my phone as a distraction I was able to think about lots of new ideas and plans for the future. 

Obviously, once you're back in the real world it's not always possible or practical to be without your phone or internet access, particularly if you use it for work or have family you need to be available for. But what my week off taught me is that there are ways you can limit the amount of time you spend on it, especially when it comes to social situations. Ultimately, nothing is more important than having real time, face-to-face, with real people. Social media can always wait. 

3 ways to do a mini digital detox 

Set some boundaries

Why not try and set some boundaries with your phone? For example, set a curfew in the evening when you step away from social media. I find this one hard, because that's when a lot of people are on my social media asking me questions, but I'm making a conscious effort to try and take some time out. If you use your phone for your morning alarm, move it away from you bed or leave it outside the room. 

Put your phone down when you meet friends

Have you ever noticed when you're out with friends and you look around and everyone's on their phone? Now when I go for a meal with my friends we put all our phones in the middle of the table and the first one that grabs theirs has to buy the dinner. We've had so many great nights out just by instigating that one action. It makes a huge difference when you're all in the moment together. 

Don't grab your phone as soon as you wake up

Give yourself half an hour in the morning after you've woken up off before you reach for your phone. Start your day, read, do some yoga or some exercise and get ready for work without distractions. Give yourself some time to think about the day ahead and what you want to achieve, before you check your emails or Twitter.

Send me your digital detox tips

We're all learning how to use social media in a healthier way in our lives and I'd love to hear any tricks and tactics you use to help sure find a good balance. Share them on The Body Coach Facebook or on Instagram @TheBodyCoach.

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Joe Wicks

About Joe Wicks

Joe Wicks is the online nutrition coach inspiring people all over the world to cook with his #Leanin15 video meals on Instagram. He is also transforming the lives of thousands of people with his tailored online nutrition plan, The 90 Day Shift, Shape & Sustain plan.

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