After a magical trip in Alaska with my son, I decided to put away my phone for a day.
It was hard, especially for someone who sometimes picks up her phone 100 times a day.
I felt more relaxed, calmer, and more focused after just 24 hours without my phone in my hand.
My 6-year-old son and I soared thousands of feet over Alaska's rugged terrain for about 40 minutes on a 10-seater plane flown by Talkeetna Air Taxi. When it landed on skis on the pristine fluffy snow on top of a glacier in Denali National Park, the world seemed different.
The moment struck me because of not only the gorgeous views but the beauty of silence. There were no phones ringing, no buzzing texts, no internet access — nothing but the sounds of nature surrounded us. A feeling of peace and calm washed over me, and it was exhilarating.
We spent about 20 minutes having a snowball fight, making snow angels, and breathing in the crisp air. I wanted to bottle up the pure joy of the moment and take home that feeling of freedom.
I realized on that nature-filled adventure that part of why I felt so good is that while I had disconnected from the world, I felt more connected to myself and my son.
I needed a break from my phone
I decided once I got home to Arizona that I would break up with my phone for 24 hours. One of my close friends, Jude, is an Orthodox Jew who turns off all his technology for the Sabbath every week. How hard could it be, I wondered.
It was a challenge, especially since Apple informed me that some days I pick up my phone 100 times. I felt a little lost without my leash, as I jokingly refer to my phone, because while cellphones give us the freedom to roam, people expect a response within minutes.
The world could wait, but I informed my parents that I would not be reachable and in case of an emergency to call my son's phone.
When I turned off my phone at sundown on Friday, I instantly felt stressed. What if someone needed me? What if breaking news happened?
But I quieted my mind and quelled those thoughts. After all, I'm not a doctor on call — I'm a mom, and it was a good time to be fully present and focused.
It felt so good not to have my phone around
That night I read a story to my son, and it felt good not to reach over and check my phone. He fell asleep, and I picked up a book and read without distractions — something that's hard to do with the constant presence of email, social media, and texting.
The next morning I reached for my phone and felt jittery. But then I looked at my sleeping son and realized that what mattered wasn't in a text message.
I started to breathe. The world wasn't disappearing; it was on hold.
Constantly checking my phone doesn't mean I'm in control but rather the opposite. Control is when you have boundaries and decide when a person can connect with you and what works in your schedule. A phone is supposed to be a convenient tool to enhance your life, not one that constantly demands your attention.
At the end of my 24-hour breakup with my phone, I felt more relaxed and calmer, and my focus on reality was sharper. While I felt relieved to allow the world back in, I later craved the peacefulness of quiet time.
As I had in Alaska, I realized sometimes you have to soar above your world and disconnect to really find yourself and see the big picture.
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