• How a Summer Digital Detox Made Me Happier, Calmer and More Creative

    August 21, 2014 | The Social Chicks
  • This summer, the Social Chicks and the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times hosted the community’s second annual Social Media Day, and more than 60 participants from local businesses and organizations attended to find out how to use social media to grow awareness, connect with customers and stakeholders and build a strong online presence.

    Social media experts from across the region offered tips and insights and explored the impact of social media on our lives and businesses.

    Most of the participants left the sessions feeling energized and excited, eager to take up more room in the digital space. There is a definite upside in the way social media can make us a stronger, more connected community and help build new relationships. Certainly, social media offers unparalleled marketing and communications opportunities and a new way for business to engage.

    There is also a downside. Many people launch themselves into cyberspace to find it overwhelming.  Social media is a time suck. It can become a kind of all-consuming black hole. If you are familiar with the uneasy feeling that there is always something urgent you have to do online, or you experience a fear of missing out when you are offline, it might be time for a digital detox.

    Completely off the grid - remote wilderness retreat

    Completely off the grid – remote wilderness retreat

    How do you know you’re in the danger zone?  Here are five ways you can tell your social media use is out of control:

    1. You check your mobile phone in the bathroom
    2. You shoo away, or ignore friends, colleagues or family members while you are on your devices
    3. You break out in a sweat if you forget your phone or iPad somewhere
    4. The first thing you do in the morning is check your smart phone or laptop (see #1)
    5. You impatiently grit your teeth during offline conversations until you can get back online and check your notifications
    Remote wilderness retreat - capping off my Summer Digital Detox

    Remote wilderness retreat – capping off my Summer Digital Detox

    If you answered yes to any of those questions, then it’s time to back away from the keypad and get a little perspective.

    Over the past four weeks or so, I experimented with the detox by imposing the following restraints:

    • No online activity before 8:30 am
    • Personal Facebook (and/or Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, G+) use restricted to 15 minutes or less at a time.
    • No checking social platforms until after individual work/home tasks are finished
    • No checking devices at dinnertime, while watching TV, or during one-to-one conversations

    The results? I found out who that big man is who sleeps at my place. (“Hubby? Is that you?”).  I was able to easily complete a number of looming work related tasks and household projects.  I’ve carved out time at the beginning of each day for personal mindfulness – reading, meditation, journaling – and morning tea with the big guy. I feel more focused, calmer, and less subject to random anxieties. I’ve also re-engaged with offline hobbies resulting in a big boost in both my creativity and productivity.

    I capped off the daily detox experiment with a full withdrawal program spending five days in the remote wilderness completely off the grid.

    How was it?

    Admittedly, it was a challenge, especially as I make part of my living as a social media specialist with a big online footprint.  But, the world kept spinning. In fact, it seems a little better and brighter these days.

    Vicki McLeod is a Social Chick and is a business and personal coach and consultant. She offers monthly social media sessions with businessSTART North Fraser and has a Social Media Training session coming up in Maple Ridge on September 10.


    Love it! I answered a big Yes! to a few of your questions. Maybe time for a mini detox :)


    Uh oh. Sounds like it's definitely time to give a detox a try. See what happens. Would love to hear about it!