We all have our bad days.
Whether it be due to external or internal reasons, there are just certain days where, from the moment we wake up, to the moment we fall asleep, the day has just been garbage.
It can sometimes be a few big things that just throw everything off. Our partner is laid off, we have a parent in the hospital, and our boss is demanding a project be done ASAP.
Or it can sometimes be a multitude of tiny, little things that just end up adding up as the day goes on. Coffee gets spilled on our shirt, but not a big enough stain to warrant buying a new shirt. The computer at work is having issues and we need to contact the IT department to fix it, which delays the start to our already busy workday. We forget a lunch and have to buy one, only to have it turn out to be disappointing and almost inedible. In the afternoon, our colleague bails on us to go out for drinks after work. And 2 buses drive right by our stop on the way home.
I had neither day recently. The day started off great.
Coffee in bed, breakfast at a diner, a delicious flat white at Bridgehead before heading off to work. A relatively productive morning followed by a sudden crash in mood, seemingly from out of nowhere. Without warning, the day had gone to shit. I couldn’t focus on the work I needed to do, I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed about an interaction I was having via text and I was feeling so tired that I was struggling hard to stay awake at my desk.
I ended up leaving work 30min early. I am thankful that I have a position where I can easily make up that 30min tomorrow or next week without having to worry about it. And it was on my way home that I decided what I was going to do tonight in hopes of changing around my mood.
Put my phone on airplane mode, ensure that the internet was turned off on my computer, and chill the hell out. I picked up my dog and as I was leaving, turned on my phone to airplane mode. No chance of any notifications for the rest of the night.
I took a nice, long shower. I played fetch with Cooper. I made myself a delicious, healthy dinner. I wrote. A solid 5 pages of handwritten journaling plus a few ideas for upcoming blog posts. I made myself multiple herbal teas. I read an amazing novel that I’ve been enjoying. And I went to bed by 8:30pm.
I have been saying I’ve wanted to get better at unplugging for months. I even work on this with my coach, doing my best to put my phone away at least 90min before bedtime and limiting my screen time (e.g., TV, computer, tablet) as much as possible in the evening.
But often, that can easily go out the window when I’m feeling stressed out or anxious. I look to my phone and social media as a distraction when I’m experiencing uncomfortable emotions, and I could tell that this was becoming an unhealthy crutch.
If I posted something, I checked back numerous times after posting to see how many likes/views I got. I hate admitting this, but you know what? I know for a fact that I am not the only one, but as someone who talks about self-care and self-compassion a LOT, I felt a bit of shame when it came to my self-proclaimed digital technology addiction (self-proclaimed because I am hyper aware of the severity of a diagnosed addiction and do not want to downplay this at all).
Since 5:30pm, I was able to put my phone onto airplane mode and keep it there. I left it charging face down on the kitchen counter for the entire duration of the night. I didn’t even turn on the wifi to listen to music. I just embraced the digital free evening and stayed fully present.
As expected, I woke up feeling SO much better the next morning. I had time to journal first thing in the morning. I made it to the gym (something that hasn’t happened in the morning for quite a while), I made myself a delicious coffee at home, I got into work early, and I ended up having my most productive day of the week, on a Friday!
Other than the mini-digital detox, I made a point of not fighting the negative feelings and emotions that were there. I acknowledged them, vocalized them to a couple of people close to me, and let them have their space.
There was no resisting or denying them and I think this also played a huge role in being able to bounce back a little more quickly. I wasn’t wasting all of this energy on trying to suppress a part of who I am. A messy, complicated, authentic part of me.
Want to learn more on ways that you can take a digital detox? Thrive Global has posted a fantastic (albeit long) article on disengaging from digital technology. It includes everything from smartphone suggestions, desktop applications, in-person suggestions, and more. Seriously, a really good read, even if you read it bits and pieces at a time.