Carrie Brooks is a professional life coach and author, who lives in Greenwich. This week, she talks to Weekender readers about switching off and a daily digital detox 


There is an advert around at the moment advertising a mobile service which is boldly claiming that phones are good, writes Carrie Brooks…

Now I completely agree that phones are super practical, innovative and an important asset in running our modern lives but good for us? As a coach who assists people with stress, anxiety and overwhelm, my answer has to be no.

We live in an age of instant access, emails, texts and calls are time sensitive demanding a response. We live in a world of high pressure and bristling impatience, our phones are the key contributors to feeling constantly on demand, is it then surprising that we find it challenging to switch off and truly relax?

Technology has been innovating at such a speed that we have not had the time to learn how to use this technology in a way that serves us, instead of our phones becoming the masters of us. You just need to walk down any high street to observe people, nose down, totally focused on their phones and any social occasion will have phones on the table or bar and always, always turned on…
Our phones are most often the last thing we look at before sleep and the very first thing we turn to in the morning, we are never disconnected from them. Now let me talk a little science here… whatever we focus on in our moments before our night’s rest, we take into our sleep. So if you have been checking your work emails last thing, that is what you will be taking into your slumber and your subconscious will be furiously processing this while you sleep. Is it surprising then that you wake up still feeling stressed? Obviously you have had no down time, no time away from the stress and strain of your work, only to have to start all over again the next day. This full on mentality is what causes burnout and anxiety, we need time away from all our stresses to properly reboot. We are not built to be on it, foot down on the accelerator 24/7, psychologically and emotionally we cannot survive this way. I call it a need to disconnect from the mainframe, it’s a human need and one that we ignore at our peril.

Now I am not a technophobe by any means, I’m delighted with how my phone enables me to keep in easy contact with my clients and also FaceTime my sister in LA at a moment’s notice, it’s quite brilliant! However I do see the fallout of not being aware of how we use our phones and most importantly how they have come to dictate our behaviours. When a client comes to me for coaching and they are super stressed, feeling they are on an ever rotating hamster wheel, just about keeping up, I always address their relationship with their phones first.

Here are some of my secrets to ease the stress and feel back in control, strategies which achieve amazing results.

The first thing is to create a bedroom haven, this needs to be a place of calm, a place of peace and relaxation, a veritable refuge from the outside world. At bedtime it becomes a place where you read, listen to music and decompress. If you are on your own it’s a time to spend some valuable me-time doing what you enjoy, if you have a partner this can be valuable connection time. In this before bedtime space there are no screens. No screens I hear you shout in dismay, yes absolutely, phones placed out of sight, laptops off, no TV. Invest in an alarm clock. This is crucial to give you the conducive environment to relax and recharge, to disconnect from the mainframe, as I call it.

The second thing to do, bearing in mind that what you focus on just before you sleep your subconscious will the process during the night, is to introduce some positive good thoughts. I thoroughly recommend a Gratitude Journal just before sleep, a note book in which you write 5 things you have appreciated in your day, things that have simply warmed your heart. All the latest research in Positive Psychology has discovered this to be a very productive way of both reinforcing your positive thinking and giving you the much needed recuperative downtime to fully recharge.
This way we are working with technology in a way that allows us to reap all the benefits while also taking care of our all important well being. Basically a win-win situation, just needs a rethink from you, are you ready?

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