This summer, on a drive out to the beach for the weekend, my phone broke. For a minute I panicked, but then I thought about it for a second. Historically, I would classify myself as a moderate user of the iPhone. I'm not glued to it all day, but I use it regularly. That being said, in the weeks leading up to my phone breaking, I was extra busy with work (and life) and really ramped up my cell phone usage, to the point that I was sitting there just refreshing my email and other apps. For me, this was a problem that seemed to impact my mind and body in a negative way. I thought maybe the universe was trying to tell me something. With that, I embarked on a weekend without my iphone. I enjoyed it so much that it turned into a few days, then a week, and then two weeks. Here are nine things I noticed when I spent 14 days without a phone:
1. I was more mindful in all aspects of my life. Mindfulness is a buzz word in the holistic health world. Basically, it means that you should be more present. It's quite difficult to be present when you're constantly looking at your phone for that text, email or Instagram update. Whether it was while riding the subway, eating dinner or talking to a friend, the phone wasn't there, so I was more engaged in what was going on around me. Next time you go to dinner, have everyone stack their phones in the middle of the table. The first person to touch the phone has to pay for dinner.
2. Conversations were more meaningful. Whether it was a conversation with my wife, a friend or a person at the store, we made a different kind of connection. When I needed to make a call, I would do so from my computer, using Skype, which meant I was in a quiet spot and was sitting down specifically to talk to that person, not to talk and walk or talk and do other things at the same time.
3. I slept better, for three reasons. One, light (such as the kind emitted from electronic devices like a cell phone) can suppress melatonin production and ramp up your body's stress response, which means that you won't sleep as deeply. Two, emails can be stressful; an email from your boss right before you go to bed can trigger a racing mind that will keep you up or even wake you. Three, cell phones and other electronic devices emit electromagnetic fields (EMF) and they are not "Unbelievable" (like the '80s band). Try keeping your cell phone in another room and/or unplugging all electronic devices in your bedroom. Chances are you will sleep better.
4. I noticed a significant boost in my athletic performance and recovery. I should have tested my testosterone levels before and after but I suspect there was a measurable increase. Many guys have heard that they should avoid carrying their phone in their front pocket as studies have shown that this can decrease sperm count. I would take it a step further and keep your phone as far away from your body as possible. This goes for ladies as well; we all have the same hormones, just in different ratios.
5. I was more creative. I normally carry a small notebook around to jot down ideas. During those two weeks, the ideas were on overdrive. When you are constantly bombarding your mind with content, whether it is in the form of emails, text messages or Facebook updates, there is no room to create. A quiet mind is a powerful thing.
6. My stress levels went down. We live in a stressful world and I live in one of the most high-energy, high-stress cities in the world: NYC. No cell phone equals a major reduction in stress for many of the reasons I have discussed throughout.
7. My eyes hurt less. We all know the feeling when we've spent too much time at a computer and our eyes, head and neck hurt. A smart phone is the same, just with a smaller screen that requires you to look down to see what's going on. This stresses your eyes and neck and can cause serious postural imbalances.
8. I have always been sensitive to cell phone frequencies. If someone puts a cell phone near me and I'm not looking, I can always tell. That being said, it became even more noticeable after being away from direct contact for a while. Consider getting a device to protect you from EMF frequencies.
9. When I made plans, I had to keep them—there was no adjusting on the fly. It was refreshing to tell my friend I would meet him at a specific place and time and that was it. There was one little snafu that involved meeting a friend at the beach for a surf. The waves were subpar and I wanted to alert him not to come so I used a pay phone (which wasn't easy to find), but this made for an exciting day and a good story.
So, after two weeks I finally decided to get a phone, as it can be difficult to run a business without one. But I have made a few changes. One, airplane mode is my best friend. I keep my phone on airplane mode most of the day and check in periodically. Two, I removed Facebook and email from my phone, which means I have a few less things to refresh. I am at a computer enough that I can always be reached by email. Instagram is still there, as that was a tough one to give up. I'm not saying you should do the same, but at least give it a try.