I went offline for 48 hours and this is what I learnt

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I went offline for 48 hours

Taking a break from your smartphone can do wonders for your mental and physical health, so our writer Sam attempted digital detox experiment over a weekend going offline for 48 hours during the summer as part of the Instagram #offline48 challenge, but it would be a great thing to try this January – especially if you’re prone to doomscrolling.

Sam’s experience…

Like most people, I’m completely addicted to my phone and I hate it. It’s stuck to my hand like glue morning, noon and night – even though the constant tings, rings and buzzes that come from my phone stress me out no end. I’m also a serious social media scroller and Instagram is the first thing I look at when I wake up and the last thing I look at before I go to bed, which is a habit I desperately want to break.

I loved the idea of going offline for an extended period of time but wasn’t sure I’d have the willpower to go cold turkey on the grid. However, in the name of journalism, I decided to give it a go. I announced it on my Instagram Stories beforehand and one of my friends messaged me and said I’d never last. Well, I did and it was bliss.

I turned my phone off over the August bank holiday and I wasn’t tempted to reach for it once. I was visiting my parents for the weekend, so rang them the night before to arrange a time and place to meet. Other than that I didn’t encounter any problems and just enjoyed walking around London with my head held high and my hands free. I wasn’t obsessively checking Instagram to see what everyone else was doing with their bank holiday and was able to focus on enjoying mine: I read, I sunbathed, I spent quality time with my family.

Sadly it’s not possible for me to turn my phone off every weekend because I need to be contactable for work, however, I do want to take extended periods of time offline and intend to savour every single minute.

Three other case studies…

Sarah, personal trainer, @sarahs_sunny_life

I’ve been going offline for 18 weekends in a row: I started it mainly because I’m aware how much social media affects me and it heightens my anxiety. Since doing the challenge I’ve found it gives me not only tons more spare time to spend with people, but I’m more mindful of my time and can fully focus on being present. I have managed to finish books I started ages ago, completed a course, met friends for runs and dog walks and dinner.

The first few weekends it was tricky but I just made sure I gave people (if I have made plans to meet someone) my home number, so they can reach me if needed. It just makes you a bit more organised and you have to be at the place you said you would at said time. You get used to it and it’s 100% worthwhile. Social media isn’t real life and being away from it for 48 hours makes you more aware of that and means you can make real connections with real people.

Jayne, marketing and PR manager 

As somebody who works in marketing and is proud to say my top skill is communicating I am always ‘on’ and available. Truth be told it really took a toll on me over the past few months and it resulted in burnout. A couple of Fridays ago I was on my way home from another crazy work week sitting on the bus feeling so over stimulated and drained. I saw a friend had posted on Instagram saying she was going #offline48 and I decided instantly that I would join her.

I told family and friends I was turning off my phone for the weekend so they didn’t put me on the missing list and turned off my phone at 6pm on Friday. I couldn’t believe the instant relief I felt being literally switched off. I slept so well, my anxiety disappeared, I had so much time to do the things I love but always put on the back burner. I didn’t actually turn my phone back on until 8am Monday morning. I did miss my Spotify and it stopped me from ordering a cheeky takeaway – probably a good thing though. My verdict: it feels so good to switch off and I will be doing it at least once a month going forward!

Katie, YouTube cook, @thekatiepix

Whether it’s editing content, responding to the community, answering calls with clients or catching up with reels of emails, there is rarely a moment my phone is out of my hands. This attachment becomes even more challenging as a freelancer when my week has no structure and my working hours quickly creep into my downtime. #Offline48 was an opportunity to gain some structure and to separate work from ‘life’ – and it worked! For the first time in a long time, I had a weekend with family without feeling the burning responsibility of work. I felt totally in the moment and even reaped the benefits of a productive Monday as I was looking forward to getting back to my desk.

By Sam

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