On Sunday I tried my first ever ‘Screen-Free Sabbath’ – an entire day away from my phone, laptop and tablet, inspired by this book. And – in a single word, it was calming. Here’s how my day went.
Waking up calmly
We were visiting my mom and dad’s for the weekend. They live in a rural part of Ireland, well away from Dublin. On Sunday morning, the day of my Screen-Free Sabbath, I woke up at about 7.30am and was soon in the kitchen making my morning cuppa. This is when I’d normally check my phone/emails for the first time of the day. Initially I felt a little bit lost when I realised I wasn’t going to do my normal task at this point, but only for a few minutes. And then instead, I sat at my parent’s dining table, enjoyed my cuppa quietly, looked out the window at their bird table, paged through the Argos Christmas catalogue that was there and generally just woke up calmly, without the noise of news, social media and emails filling my head. Once I was over the initial anxiety of not actually checking my phone and emails as I always do at this point in the day, I was fine.
Soon after that, I made breakfast for my family (a new thing I like to do when home at my parent’s) and then went on a long walk through the countryside with my brother and his fiancé and their little pup, who were also down for the weekend. There was no phone to distract my breakfast-making efforts, no phone to distract from our conversations around the table or on our walk in the lovely fresh morning. I was just totally and completely present.
A pleasant change
After our walk, we spent some time just chatting with my family before each of us had to pack up and get back on the road to Dublin. I really enjoyed the day. I definitely felt calmer and less distracted in general – and was over the initial anxiety of not checking my phone constantly within a couple hours. I’m not one for checking my phone endlessly while spending time with family anyway, but on Sunday I really felt disconnected from my social media and this was a pleasant change.
Around 5pm, we were home from my parent’s house and a bit of anxiety was back again that perhaps I should check my emails – just in case there was something I needed to be aware of regarding Happy Magazine… I know, I know. Habits die hard, that’s for sure. I decided to allow myself five minutes for emails and emails only (after all, this wasn’t about punishment) – I opened the laptop – checked my emails (there was nothing urgent, obviously!) and then I made myself close the laptop and walk away. It was hard. I could feel myself almost slip back into work mode… But I resisted. The quick check helped me dispel the nervous FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) I had and although I know this means I wasn’t entirely successful on my challenge of a completely screen-free day, I was still happy with this as I spent 99% of my day offline – something very new to me.
Wonderful feeling of free time
That evening, when I normally would have been working on my laptop for a couple of hours, I instead had a wonderful feeling of free time on my hands. I paged through a cookbook I’ve been meaning to read for the last couple of weeks, I wrote out a weekly meal plan and a grocery list and then felt wonderfully organised in this area – it’s something I don’t always feel I have the luxury of time to do. But that’s just it, isn’t it – I suddenly had the luxury of the time when I wasn’t a slave to my electronic devices for the day.
So the Screen-Free Sabbath was a revelation for me on a few levels – the anxiety of not being able to check my phone and actually how real a thing that is in terms of an addiction-type habit, the 5pm wobble when I just “had to” look at my emails, the feeling of more free time then in the evening and a wider sense of organisation and calmness arising from tasks that I did instead of my normal screen time.
Through the day, I also definitely did feel a lot calmer and at the end of the day, a lot more relaxed than if I had just had my ‘average’ Sunday in terms of phone and screen time. Not having the phone to constantly check for updates in my emails or on social media meant I really focussed on the things I did do on Sunday and in a less distracted and preoccupied way.
So is a regular Screen-Free Sabbath for me? Yes, I think it really is. And I think, the more I do it, the easier it will become. I’m happy with how I did with my first screen-free challenge and for the immediate future, I will definitely be trying to do it one day a week.
Would you try a Screen-Free Sabbath to see how it could make you feel? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear.
By Happy Magazine Editor, Holly Kennedy.