Mental Detox Week

Mental Detox Week

Adbusters have changed their Turnoff TV week into Mental Detox Week, its tagline is Escape the Fantasy. It’s a pretty interesting challenge for someone like me.

It’s running from 21st-27th April. That’s next week. Eeek.

The idea is simple: take your TV, your DVD player, your video iPod, your XBOX 360, your laptop, your PSP, and say goodbye to them all for seven days. Simple, but not at all easy. Like millions of others before you, you’ll be shocked at just how difficult – yet also how life-changing – a week spent unplugged can really be.

When you read the details I like the fact that they’re not being silly about it. They realise that there’s a degree of ‘essential use’ in terms of work that uses computers.

Today you’re not going to listen to your iPod. You aren’t going to stare at a computer screen any more than you absolutely have to. Today you won’t worry about unanswered email, and you’re not going to login to Facebook. You’ll cut the time you spend on digital devices right down to the bone.

I feel like I’ve had a few weeks of extreme screen staring, so this has come at a perfect moment for me.

For a couple of days you might feel like an addict in withdrawal: peevish, agitated, and distracted. But then something will happen. Your over-stimulated brain will cleanse itself. You’ll relax. You’ll feel calmer, more grounded.

I just want to give it a go and see what happens to me. Maybe I’ll miss it all so bad I’ll crack. Or maybe I’ll learn to love life without all the screens and turn my back on the glassy monsters forever…

Here’s how I’m planning on doing it:

  1. I need a mobile phone for work. But I’m going to downgrade from my iPhone to a very basic old model that I’ve got lying around the house. I won’t make any outgoing calls from the mobile unless absolutely essential. And I mean properly essential.
  2. Computer use is limited to between 9am and 6.30pm weekdays only. But with a massive reduction in usage. I’ll check email a couple of times a day. And I’ll only use a computer when the job can’t be done some other way. I might stop just short of sending faxes again.
  3. TV is off.
  4. I’ll go back to listening to CDs, or Vinyl. Not sure if this is cheating or not. Or where the radio fits in? But I’m interpreting the rules my way, and I’m about cutting out looking at screens.
  5. I was going to say ‘no blogging’, but I think I might ease up on that. However, I’m only going to blog hand-written notes about what’s going on in my mental detox, via email, during the 9-6.30 window – minimising screentime.

The thing I’m most interested in is whether I feel like I’m more or less productive, and also whether I feel like I have more or less brain time. It’s very different from going on holiday and leaving it all behind because all the expectations and contexts of everyday life are still hanging about…

Anyone else up for it?

20 thoughts on “Mental Detox Week”

  1. I’ve been threatening to ‘kill myself’ on facebook for a while now but this is a much more comprehensive switch off.

    I’m on board.

    1. Mobile: I’ll only text when absolutely necessary (i.e. to keep my g/f happy) and won’t make outgoing calls.

    2. TV: Nope.

    3. Music: Nope – not on any format.

    4. Internet: Same hours, 9:30 – 6:30. This will be tough…

    Think the biggest challenge will be the same one that’s faced by people preparing for the London marathon, whilst you’re abstaining, everyone around you is carrying on as they were…


  2. It’s a really good idea so I’ll probably give it a go (even though I’ve recently een on a shiny gadgets spending spree!)

    9:am – 6pm I’ll be in a similar pattern to you – work essentials, etc.

    But early morning, evenings and weekend (“off peak”) I’ll be mentally detoxing. Looking forward to giving my eyes a break!

  3. i heard of this before, i think they called it a ‘holiday’ or something, sounds a bit silly if you ask me

  4. Definitely not up for it, sounds awful, but can’t wait to hear how you got on! Good luck…

  5. I did this for 6 weeks in Borneo. We talked, played guitar, hung out with the Orangutans. The usual jungle stuff.

    But doing it in the west while you have a job is virtually impossible! Would be for me at least. Great idea, but I think it’s something you need to do when it is right for you.

  6. 6 weeks in Borneo vs Only start at the screen from 9:30 to 6:30…

    I don’t think taking a week long break from mental crack while still sprinkling it on your cornflakes in the morning and sampling throughout the day is much of a detox…

    You need a holiday to do it properly.

  7. I’ve done the holiday thing and that’s cool. Personally I think the tough part is abstaining when everyone else around you is still taking massive tokes on the techno-pipe.

    It’s like not drinking. It’s quite easy out of context. But being tee-total in a pub full of your mates who are drunk is a totally different experience.

  8. I’ve thought that it would take one of those retreats that DO NOT ALLOW the internet, tv etc. Probably says more about my will power than anything else – then again, is it just one of those things that many people want to do for a while and find it easier to do in groups, like weight loss.

    Enjoy your break!

  9. I am quite new to detox, just discovered recently and to be honest, didn’t think I’d like it, tried it because my girlfriend told me that it’d be good for my back aches and to stop smoking.

    On my recent holidays, I went to Koh Samui, to Kamalaya spa resort, and did a detox retreat. It was amazing, not only my back aches are much less and feel almost no cravings for cigarrettes (I still would like to smoke now and again) but feel much more inspired to do things, take care of myself and feel more clear in general.

    I will keep up my detox and healthy living from now on. Haven’t felt so great in years.

    Thank you for all the detox info, it is inspiring


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