Update on my Holiday & Social Media Detox

As a few of you may have noticed, I disappeared for the last week. That’s because I went on holiday to Cyprus! I’ve never been there before so I was very excited about going! It’s the first relaxing holiday I’ve had. Normally, I opt for active holidays where I’m sightseeing and doing a lot of walking and exploring, but this time my Mum and I decided to have a chill holiday.

Most of the holiday consisted of sunbathing, swimming, reading and eating a ton of food (it was all inclusive so I had to make the most of it!). I finished two books – Normal People by Sally Rooney and This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay – both of which I will write book reviews of when I get round to it! I also properly tanned for the first time in my life so for once I’m no longer pale (or “insipid” as my Mum likes to joke).

I think going on holidays is a lot of fun but they’re also really beneficial for your well being if you go about them in a certain way. I decided that I would have a phone/social media detox for my time away to ensure I had the most relaxation I could, and honestly I’m so glad I did! Apart from the quick check of the phone in the morning or evening (to remind people that I am still alive), I left my phone locked away in my room and focused primarily on living in the moment. Which is why you haven’t seen any blog or social media posts from me recently.

I think it’s easy, especially in the modern world, to be stressed without even realising you’re stressed. We naturally want to be efficient and multi-task and do everything that we possibly can, but this takes a huge toll on us. It was only by removing myself from my phone and then returning to real life once I got home, that I realised how much my phone was causing me minor stress. Sometimes you just need to break away and return to fully realise how much something impacts you. 

In a week’s time, I will be starting university again and I’m determined to change up my lifestyle and minimise my stress level as much as possible. I’ll be explaining this in a future post, as well as sharing my goals for the rest of 2019 and 2020.

I really feel like a lot has changed in my life over the past few months and this holiday has really created a divider between my old lifestyle and the lifestyle I wish to carry through now to the future. I’m excited to start a fresh chapter! I hope you’ll tag along with me.

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

My Favourite Mental Health Books

Today is World Book Day, but it is also University Mental Health Day. Since I am a huge lover of reading and have struggled a lot with my mental health whilst at university, this day is really important to me. Therefore, what better to do than list some of my favourite mental health books?

1. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig Image result for reasons to stay alive

I know what you’re thinking, I’m talking about Matt Haig again, but his books have been really helpful to me over the past couple of years. He gives an account of his struggle with mental health with no filter and that’s what I love about it. He doesn’t make it seem cool or sugarcoat it – it is his raw feelings in book form and I really admire that. For people who struggle with anxiety and/or depression, this may be really useful to you. Read my book review here.

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2. Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

If you thought I’d just stop at one of Matt Haig’s books, you’d be very wrong. Whilst this one also tackles mental health, it is vaster in its approach to technology and social media. These are things that have become second nature to us and Haig discusses how this affects our minds. I think anyone who finds themselves even mildly attached to the internet can relate to this book. Read my book review here.

3. How to Survive the End of the World by Aaron GilliesImage result for how to survive the end of the world

Technically I haven’t actually finished this book yet, but I’m in the process of reading it, so that counts, right? This book focuses on topics similar to Matt Haig, but has more of a focus on anxiety. I really like the humour that Gillies brings to this book and the informal way it is written. It is split into categories, such as “My anxious brain vs the morning” and “My anxious brain vs socialising” which makes it really easy to pick out the parts as and when you need them. This one doesn’t have a book review yet (sorry).

4. Your journal

So I got to number four and realised that I haven’t actually read as many mental health books as I thought. Go me. However, having your own notebook and jotting down your thoughts is just as much a mental health book as any. It’s a way to release tension, to rationalise your thoughts, and you don’t even have to read it. Sometimes writing out your inner thoughts can be scary because you don’t know what’s lurking there, but it is unbelievably rewarding. Trust me.

 

I really hope this list was somewhat helpful, despite my slight downfall at the end with my lack of ideas. Today is a day about sharing books and caring for others, and I think that’s the perfect day.

‘Notes on a Nervous Planet’ by Matt Haig [Book Review]

A while ago I read ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ by Matt Haig (you can read my book review of it here) and absolutely loved it, so naturally I decided to read the sequel ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet.’IMG_5610.JPG

I would say that, whilst the sequel has some moments dedicated to mental health, it doesn’t have as much as ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’, but there’s only so much you can say about a certain topic. I actually really liked the direction ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet’ took – it talks about why we come to have mental health problems, rather than how they affect us. The world around us is so jam-packed full of technology and possessions that it’s hard to stop and think. Instead, we end up doing the opposite and overthinking everything.

There is one part of the book that I found really interesting and that’s the passage on time. It goes as follows:

“We are too aware of numerical time and not aware enough of natural time. People for thousands of years may have woken up at seven in the morning. The difference with these last few centuries is that now we are waking up because it is seven in the morning. We go to school or college or work at a certain time of day, not because that feels the most natural time to do so, but because that is the time that has been given to us. We have handed over our instincts to the hands of a clock. Increasingly, we serve time rather than time serving us. We fret about time. We wonder where time has gone. We are obsessed with time.”

And Haig is completely right. How are we meant to be content with whatever we are doing when there are always other things on our mind – things that we need to get done before a certain time and within a certain time? We are never really focused on one thing because we know there are other things. And the fact that we don’t have all the time in the world means we tend to rush these things or give them less attention. This must do so much to our brains. It trains them into thinking that everything must be done at double the speed. It feeds us with anxiety because we know we can never get everything completely done within the time limit. It’s like a race we can’t ever completely finish.

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Late night reading always helps clear a space in my mind

This made me think a lot about my own life – the way I rush about to do things and always distract myself with things to the point that I never actually enjoy a whole day without the stress of my phone or deadlines or people. Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to sit in an open space, all alone, with nothing but myself. I don’t think I would be able to stand it. And that’s what is so wrong about this world. If I can’t sit with myself in an empty space then I’m way too attached to the bad habits of this planet and I need to detach myself. But how?

Today I decided to take a break from technology. I felt a bit depressed and wanted nothing more than to detach myself from the world and everyone in it. So I turned my phone off. And it’s been a while since I’ve done that. I shut all my notifications and phone-related stresses out of the day for 5 hours and for once I focused solely on me, and not anyone else. Before I knew it, my day became really productive. I de-cluttered my desk and, consequently, de-cluttered my brain and I felt so much happier after doing so. I turned my phone back on knowing that I actually did something useful today and that although I missed a lot of notifications, they weren’t urgent. They can wait 5 hours. It makes no difference.

And with 2019 only just beginning, I hope to take more days out like this. To detach myself from the nervous planet that Matt Haig speaks of and to reattach myself in a way that gives me space and time to figure out what is most important. So if you’re having a bad day and you don’t know how to save yourself, give yourself some space; turn off your phone and find a quiet corner to read.

You can view my reviews of Matt Haig’s other books below:

Reasons to Stay Alive

The Humans

Echo Boy

And you can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

 

‘Nothing to Hide’ [Film Review]

Yesterday, when browsing Netflix, I came across ‘Nothing to Hide’, a French film which involves a group of friends meeting up for dinner and playing a game with their phones. They are to put their phones in the centre of the table and every time they receive a text or a phone call, they have to read it aloud. As you would have guessed, drama prevails.

I watched this film simply because the concept sounded cool. Not going to lie, it is annoying because it’s got English voice-over so the words aren’t in time with the movement of the lips (since they are really speaking French), but if you don’t focus on it, then it’s not so bad.Image result for nothing to hide film phones

I don’t want to give away much that happens, so I won’t mention anything specific to the characters and the plot. However, I did find the focus on phones and privacy really interesting. In the modern age, a lot of information about our lives is stored within our phones and social media (in fact, almost all of it is). So much so that handing over your phone to someone is like handing over your soul. It is interesting to think about the lengths you would go to hide the contents of your phone from someone else – whether that is for the reason of not wanting to reveal something about yourself, or simply because you don’t want someone to damage it. Even the prospect of someone damaging your phone shows much much you rely on it – you can’t imagine not living without it and therefore damaging it is like injuring your arm; for a while you are helpless, incapable even.

Whilst watching the film, I thought about whether I would partake in a game like this. Part of me would find it really interesting – to find out about other’s lives but also to bring awareness to what I actually use my phone for and who I speak to. This awareness would perhaps be interesting in distancing myself from phone addiction. But would someone knowing about my personal life and asking questions about it cause me anxiety? Of course it would.

Image result for nothing to hide film

So whilst I recommend this film, I also ask you to think about the concept of it. Would you play this game? And if you did, would you feel comfortable?

Should we reveal everything about our lives to those closest to us, or is this a recipe for disaster?

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

How much time do you spend on your phone?

Just over a week ago I updated my iPhone to the latest ios. If you’ve done the same, you may have noticed the “screen time” in settings. And it’s safe to say that once you’ve found it, it’s hard to go back.

This is my screen time for this week. As you can see, some days have gone better than others, but the aim is to lower the average!

On “screen time” it tells you how long you’ve spent on your phone a day. It is separated into categories (social media, productivity, creativity, etc.) and also individual apps (messenger, instagram, camera, etc.). It adds up the amount of time you’ve used your phone for over the course of the week, giving you an average, whilst simultaneously making you feel worse about the fact that you’ve spent more time on your phone than actually working. As a result, I felt like I needed to do something.

It may have been a coincidence, but around the time “screen time” was introduced, I was in the middle of reading ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet’ by Matt Haig (book review coming), which is centred around the power of social media and how using our phone affects our everyday life to the point that we simply can’t live without them. I also watched a couple of videos on YouTube about people quitting social media too.

You may think I’m about to claim I’ve quit social media too and haven’t used my phone since, but I haven’t gone quite that far. Instead, I thought about how using my phone affects my life and how it mostly prevents me from focusing on my uni work. I often reach for my phone when I’m meant to be working out of boredom, when really that only prolongs the amount of time I’m studying because it takes me longer to complete it. Solution? Study timetable.

Here you can see the length of time I’ve spent on each app this week.

So on Monday I sat down and put together a timetable of when I have lectures and seminars, when I have societies/clubs, and then filled in the gaps with study sessions (to a reasonable extent). I decided that during these sessions I would leave my phone at least two metres away from me (so I’d be too lazy to get up to check it) and would only allow myself to look at it briefly if I got up for a toilet break (but to reply to no messages unless they’re urgent). 

Surprisingly, it started a lot better than I thought. I wasn’t reaching towards my phone as much already (perhaps because I’d begun it with a very positive and motivated mindset) and I felt really happy that I was getting things done. Of course, I instantly became a lot more tired because of this. I was focusing a lot more and sometimes over-working to an extent, which meant by the end of the afternoon I was already ready for bed. 

By Friday, in all honesty, I had started to slack. However, I don’t even feel bad about it; I got a lot of work done this week and I actually feel on top of it for once. Also, it’s important to have breaks too. 

I think the study timetable helped a lot to cut down on my phone use. There were some days where it was still pretty high, but actually it was more down to productivity apps than social media so I think that’s okay. At this moment in time, I feel like I use social media for what’s important – to keep in contact with my friends and family back at home and to keep up with uni updates for societies/clubs. There are times when I mindlessly scroll but I’m definitely getting better and stopping myself before it gets too much. 

How much time do you spend on your phone? Do you use social media more than you should?