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Accidental Experiment

June 29, 2015


Last weekend I went tubing down the Brandywine River with my family on Father's Day and had an absolute blast, but there's no Instagram post to show for did it even happen?


Sure it did! And instead of counting Twitter favorites, Instagram hearts, or Facebook likes to validate the day's fun, I just have the memory. But trust me, I had every intention of snapping pics and posting, but my "waterproof" iPhone case failed me. 


When I got home and assessed the damage, panic set in. Number one concern about the price of a replacement and number two about being without a working phone until I could fix or replace it!


 It wasn't working at all and the screen now displayed what looked like a combo of Chinese letters and html. So I did all the tricks trying to dry it out: hair drier, vacuum, rice, etc…. No Luck.


It’s a week later now and I (painfully) purchased a new iPhone. But a week without a reliable phone, camera, or portable source of social media proved to me that I can do fine without it and will make some changes moving forward.


Don’t get me wrong I do think iPhones are great. I use mine for all of my calls (personal and business), a good portion of my email, all of my workout filming, music, calendar, grocery lists, I could go on and on. I’m just saying that after relying on it for so long, I learned how to be without it for a while. At times it was certainly inconvenient; I could only answer emails from my laptop, I had to make calls from an alternate phone, and no texting or social media obviously.


Being without my iPhone for a week had a huge impact on my mood. I actually felt more positive, productive, energetic, and motivated. Before this incident, I was in the habit of scrolling Instagram every morning as I sipped my coffee before heading out for my run (seemingly harmless, right?). But without my phone, I shifted that sacred 30minutes of pre run coffee sipping and breakfast nibbling to my patio under the rising sun. This small change had two huge results:

  • Improved sleep.

I’ve struggled with on and off insomnia for over a year and since making this small change I have consistently slept better than I have in a long time. After noticing the change and doing a bit of research, I found some really interesting info on why changing your wake up routine has such an impact for insomnia sufferers. Apparently our circadian rhythms (aka sleep and wake cycles) are set by when we wake up, not by when we fall asleep. So first of all, waking up at the same time every morning regardless of when you fall asleep is helpful in regulating your sleep cycle. Pretty simple. That, I was already doing. Take these benefits a step further by spending about ten minutes in natural sunlight shortly after waking. Example: taking your coffee time outside. Exposure to natural sunlight when you wake triggers your brain to stop the release of melatonin (the hormone that makes you sleepy) more immediately and more effectively than if you flicked on your artificial lights, then sat in your kitchen drinking coffee and scrolling Instagram. This effective shut down of melatonin production not only reduces morning grogginess but also sets your brain up to start releasing it again at your appropriate bedtime (based on when you woke). This way you get sleepy and are able to fall asleep at a time that allows your ideal about of sleep (most people require between 7 and 9 hours). If you think about it, it’s natural that our brains are set up this way and I think it’s pretty cool that we have our biological alarm clocks.

  • Set up a day of positive thoughts.

The second change I noticed in myself was a more positive attitude and positive self-talk. I had been starting each day with everyone’s Instagram posts; images of the fun everyone else was having, the amazing places they were visiting, the great job they have, their superior fashion sense, etc. Like most people, when I see these images I can’t help but think “why is everyone having more fun than me?” or the classic: "she's prettier, fitter, cooler, more successful, etc." It can leave you feeling not so great about yourself. Without it, I wasn’t prompted to ask myself these questions or to feel inferior. It definitely made for a brighter start to my day.


So those are the two major results of my “experiment.” Like I said earlier, the iPhone is a great tool; I love mine and will certainly continue to use it. These changes I made were sparked by its absence but definitely do not condemn it. Likewise with my attitude towards social media; in its absence I learned more about how it can affect me. But I have no intention of deleting my accounts or anything. Like the iPhone, it’s an amazing tool for interacting with people and communities that you otherwise wouldn’t reach, sharing ideas, and relaying events. But I’m not going to start my day with it and I’m not going to compare anyone’s “highlight reel” with my “behind the scenes.”




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