Lifestyle | How to be more present

Often we confine our lives to a screen. Always posting, tweeting and updating our online persona. We become obsessed with how many likes, how many followers and how many comments we have. We can forget, that behind the screens and software, we're all human and there's a big wide world out there. I'm more than guilty of this myself. I've been really working on this in my personal life, switching off from the cyber world and making the most of the real one.

This so much easier said than done, and I've had to really force myself to create new habits and break old ones. So I figured I'd share some of my methods with you, and remind us all that life is for living, not just for tweeting.

1. Understanding the problem. The first step to recovery from cyber addiction is recognising the problem itself. For me it took me a while to really see how much the cyber world was effecting my life. Start by taking a mental note of how many hours your spend in front of a screen. This may be a computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, as well as the TV. I found that I was sending 90% of my waking hours focused on a screen of some sort, which really shocked me. That only left 10% of my day where I was actually functioning in the real world. Quite an eye opener.

2. Creating space. I started by consciously scheduling time into my day to function without a screen. After checking my messages in the morning, I hit the 'flight mode' button on my phone while I get ready for the day. During this time, I was able to eat breakfast, and dress without disruption, and I really started to enjoy it. I was able to think. Think without the comment or approval of cyberspace, this really helped me focus and set myself goals for the day ahead.

3. Get a new perspective. Instead of spending your weekends updating your Facebook status or shopping online, take a trip. It doesn't have to be far. Go to a museum, an art gallery, go for a hike or even a holiday. By taking yourself out of your normal situation you will begin to notice things you wouldn't usually notice. You may even learning something too... 

4. Get a hobby. Now this one is easy, simply do something you enjoy, which doesn't require a power cable. Go for a run, do a yoga class, learn a new skill or simply read a book. These activities will engage your mind in a different way and help detox your brain and body at the same time. You can meet new people, find new talents and develop yourself as an individual. Much better than taking awkward selfies. 

5. Eye contact. I take the tube to work every morning, and you can't help but notice that almost everyone has the eyes glued to their phones or tablets. Humans are created to form community but we miss the most simple aspects of human connection. I started challenging myself, I put my phone away and started smiling at people. Now, I realised to many this makes me look super creepy, but I started counting how many people I could get to smile back at me. Try it, make a connection and remind yourself that real faces are much better than Facebook. 

6. Clock out. The Independent recently published an article which discusses the effects of screen time and your sleep patterns. The study showed that people who spent more that four hours a day looking at a screen have a 49% greater risk of taking longer than an hour to fall asleep. We're also 3 and a half times more likely to get less that 5 hours sleep a night! Nightmare! Try introducing a clock out time in the evenings, at least an hour before bed. This one is super difficult for me, but I aim to be screen free by 9pm. 

7. Put the camera away. As a blogger, this one is a HUGE challenge. When you're out and about, at an event, a concert or anything relatively interesting, almost everyone reaches for their camera or smart phone. This connivence is amazing, and I adore photography. But more often than not, I'm more focused on getting the perfect Instagram image, rather than actually enjoying myself and experiencing life first hand. You may have 1000 photos of your life, but how many memories are you actually making?

8. Write a Journal. The perfect thing to fill the gap between your new clock out time and bed time. Grab a note book, pen and a cuppa and write. It doesn't matter what you write, just write. Record your feelings, your experiences, your challenges, your fears. Not only does this relax you, but it forces you to really consider you life, and your character. I like to write down three things I'm grateful for that day, and three goals for the next day.

9. Give yourself more time. We all have super busy lives, but I've really tried to plan more time into my schedule to go a bit slower. Walk a bit slower, take in your surroundings and study the details. It's astonishing what you'll notice. Don't just rush off from work at 5 o'clock, I've found that taking my time to pack up and leave the office has given me more opportunities to connect with my co-workers, rather than my followers. 

10. Detox. At the most extreme end of the spectrum, a digital detox might be just what you need. Schedule a weekend, or maybe just a day to switch off completely. Put your out of office on, and turn your phone off - yes it does have an off button. This is my next challenge, and I'm already dreading it. But the freedom that it can give is profound. You might actually realise, that your phone just isn't as important as you thought. 

My aim is to ensure I'm creating memories that I can cherish forever, not just storing up data which could one day be gone. 

Let me know if you try any of these, and good luck...

Logging out now... I promise...