An interview with mindfulness expert and creator of Hot Mess to Mindful Mom, Ali Katz.
Q: In your newest book “Get the Most Out of Motherhood: a Hot Mess to Mindful Mom Parenting Guide” you talk about Digital Detoxing and why this is so important. Can you give us some insight into this topic which seems to be on everyone’s mind?
A: I love this topic so much. Many of my clients began asking me for help in this area, which made me take a good look at my own habits. I developed strategies that really worked for me and then began teaching them to my clients.
Technology can definitely be used to help us become more mindful, such as setting reminders to meditate, or for gratitude breaks throughout the day, but unless we are also mindful about the amount of time we spend on digital devices it can also be a major time-suck.
Technology and digital devices aren’t going anywhere, so just like eating healthy and having treats, it’s all about balance. We need to make occasional detoxing a regular part of our self-care routine.
According to the Washington Post, teens spend an average of seven and a half hours per day consuming media such as television, video games, social media and music. It’s a little shocking! Believe it or not, adults in their forties check social media an average of nineteen times a day. That’s even more shocking!
I am a firm believer that our kids pay much more attention to what we do, then what we say, so it’s just as important for us to take time away from our devices in order to model the behavior we want to encourage.
Q: What is one simple and easy change that someone can make to spend less time on their digital devices?
A: I noticed that every time I pulled up to a traffic light I reached for my phone to check it, like something really important happened since the last time I was at a traffic light. I also started noticing that everyone around me was doing the same thing, along with everyone in line at the grocery store, and in my doctor’s waiting room. I decided there had to be a better use of this time!
Instead of constantly reaching for my phone, I began to reach for my breath instead, and use these small windows of downtime to do a quick one-minute meditation. I stopped mindlessly scrolling and began to match my inhale and exhale. I simply breathe in through my nose for a count of three, and match that count of three on my exhale. Every time I do this I felt centered and relaxed, and it has really become my go-to throughout the day. I do it all day long!
Q: What else do you do to help detox, and how do you get your family involved?
A: I often “detox” for a few hours at least one day per week. I usually pick Saturday or Sunday and I leave my phone on the counter for a few hours. I also pick one time a day on the six other days of the week to take a break. Usually it’s during a walk with my dog that I do “phoneless.”
We don’t allow phones at family meals. Ever. I have even started leaving it at home or leaving it in the car when I eat out with my family.
I do not look at social media for at least thirty minutes before bed. Experts recommend turning off technology a full sixty minutes before bed, but I often like to watch a show or read on my iPad before bed, so I am still working toward that.
We still have tech-free family game nights every week, and we all look forward to the device-free bonding.
Q: How can someone get started if they feel absolutely connected to their devices?
A: Start small! Put your phone on “do not disturb” for ten or fifteen minutes and see how you feel. I also encourage people to find out exactly how much time they are actually spending on their phone each day by timing it with an app like Moment. I stared using it daily and it changed my life! I now allot myself a cumulative two hours on my mobile email, texts and apps a day, and when it’s up it’s up, and I have to put my phone down until the next day. I can still use it to make calls, but it has helped to drastically reduce the time I spend on my phone mindlessly scrolling. I can’t waste a minute!
I developed a program called Digital Detox for the Modern Mom because so many people began asking for help. Find out more at www.hotmesstomindfulmom.com