For this months blog, I carried out an experiment, the effects of having no digital boundaries. Anything that I recommend for clients, I have tried and tested. So when I began recommending clients to step back from screens and press into self-care, I wanted to test out what time around screens is costing us.
For the past week, I have surrounded myself with screens. I set the following rules for one week.
1. As soon as I woke up, I checked my phone
2. I had constant music playing
3. I stayed on my laptop throughout the day (when not in client sessions)
4. On an evening, I watched TV and sat on my phone
5. I sat on my phone for a half hour before bed
What was the outcome?
Firstly, my mood plummeted. Since we don’t note watching TV or sitting on social media as an achievement, low mood kicked in. I found that I enjoyed the first hour of a particular TV programme, or catching up with the world of social media, however, past an hour, I began to feel a bit numb and low as a result.
Secondly, my sleep was extremely disturbed. Going to sleep was delayed because my mind was so busy from constant engagement. Two days into my experiment, I felt like my head was full of bumblebees, constantly buzzing.
Thirdly, my memory was severely impacted. I found my concentration was impacted, most likely a result of my mood decline. I found then that because I was forgetting things, my anxiety increased as a result.
In conclusion, I found my week of no digital boundaries overwhelming. My mood drastically declined, anxiety rose and I was exhausted from insomnia. In positive reflection, I realized how much it is an important aspect to include when treating anxiety and depression.
When researching for this blog, I came across an interesting fact that in Denmark, they have the ‘happiest’ people on the planet. Suicide rates are minimal and prescriptions for antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication are minimal, compared to Northern Ireland which is actually the highest in Europe. So I began to question, what are they doing differently? In Denmark, they practice ‘Hygge’. Hygge translates into ‘cozy connection’. What makes Denmark the ‘happiest’ country in the world, is the fact that they actually step away from screens and focus on a genuine connection in a relaxed setting.
1. Atmosphere – turn down the lights and rely on candlelight
2. Presence – be here now. Turn off phones and talk/ connect
3. Pleasure – slow down and take time to enjoy the little things (like a nice hot drink and a biscuit)
4. Gratitude – take it in. enjoy the moment as its happening, without the need to share on social media
5. Harmony – take time to appreciate that your loved ones are around you because they love you
6. Comfort – take time out of your day to get comfortable. Take a break and relax with lots of cushions and blankets
7. Togetherness – build relationships and reflect on happy times together
• Surround yourself with things you love
• Incorporate more greenery
• Use fairy lights and candlelight, rather than bright lamps
• Cozy blankets
• Game night with friends
• Curl up with a good book
• A relaxed dinner by candlelight with your nearest and dearest
• No phone evenings
• Journaling emotions with a cup of tea
• TV night with popcorn
• Go out for dessert with friends
In conclusion, The difference between Hygge and our westernized culture is the lack of connection. We have eliminated space for slowing down, enjoying the moment or simply connecting with friends. We have entered an age of trying to please ‘friends’ on social media, more so than making eye contact with our loved ones. Why not take up the Hygge challenge today and incorporate more gratitude, living in the moment and connection into your life? I’m sure you won't regret it.
Thank you for reading.