Guest Blog by Dan Lloyd, SVP, Operations

It’s quite incredible how we can control our entire life from our mobile device, from banking to shopping, eating to traveling, and of course, connecting with friends and family via social media platforms.

Social media is extremely powerful, and I certainly understand how amazing it can be for reaching out and engaging with people. The mobile device is a lifeline – it’s that positive connection and the reassurance that comes with being accessible. This got me thinking about how addicted I am to my phone and what I might be missing out on.

I sat down recently to watch a film called Into the Wild. Twenty minutes in, the protagonist throws away his phone. My first thought was ‘I do hope he has insurance so he can claim on that’, shortly followed by ‘How is UberEATS going to deliver to him now!?’.

Now, I may be alone in this next statement but hear me out. Sometimes, people call me on my mobile and I just look at the phone and think about how weird it is. I’ll stare at the handset until it goes to voicemail or the caller reverts to a text message or WhatsApp. I mean, unless it’s an emergency or your messaging is down, why are you putting me through this?

To all of my friends and family, I assure you that I’m not ignoring you! It’s just the concept of answering my phone is peculiar – when did that become a thing? In the 80s/90s, I couldn’t wait to speak to my friends on the phone. In the late 90s, we had to page each other if there was an emergency. If I needed a taxi, well… I did what every teenager did – I phoned the lady at the phone company to reverse the charges, wake up my mum, and plead for her to come and collect me!

I am getting to the point… bear with me 😊

This journey started with me wanting to explore the positive effects of focusing on one’s own mental health. I chose to embark on the journey by going without alcohol for one year. The thing is, I didn’t realise how difficult it would really be to take a step back and be honest and committed to making life changes.

I briefly mentioned in my last blog post about my journey with cancer. It was a difficult one and BEP chemo was intense. I knew the risks by embarking on the treatment, but ultimately it saved my life. I lost my hair, my eyebrows, my eye lashes, my identity; I looked in the mirror and no longer saw myself. Mentally, the hardest part of that journey was to try and put myself out there. Many people would look at me in the street with my beanie on as if I was an alien. During that period of my life – almost two years – I stepped away from social media. I guess that’s why now I almost feel guilty for returning to bad habits. In some ways, cancer was a lonely and isolating journey, but I had peace away from technology. There’s a difference though – that peace came from hiding from the world.

As it has a habit of doing, life continued and I found myself having to get back into a routine. My career, which I have always been so passionate about, was back in the picture. Inevitably, the phone appeared in my hand again. Why do I care about social media? Why am I finding it difficult to answer that call? Why did I need alcohol to be able to be confident? All of these questions have remained unanswered because I’m guided by the image that others portray on social media; we’re made to continuously review our own lives through comparison and distorted greed.

This month, I set a limit on my social media – 10 minutes per day on all apps. Let me tell you, it’s amazing sitting down with a coffee and not hiding behind that screen! Or watching a programme from start to finish with zero interruptions, sleeping peacefully without reading the news before bed (or watching Gordon Ramsay insults – my guilty pleasure! – on YouTube) and not actually knowing where my phone is.

I needed to push this even further. When someone sends me a message about catching up, I set some time aside to facetime them. I call home instead of messaging in our family group chat. I return each voicemail with a call instead of a text.

Some of you may be thinking: Dan, this is all great but it’s kind of common sense! So, I challenge you to put your phone in a timeout – the positive effects are outstanding.

Speaking of challenges, thank you for your many suggestions about what I can do to bring more clarity and focus into my life. One suggestion was to have a balcony garden. I tried this once and sadly killed them all, but I am now the proud owner of a 22-plant strong indoor garden! Regular walks were another great suggestion – I’ve done this for an hour each day on my lunch break and I feel so refreshed afterwards. Lots of you also recommended yoga, which I promise I’ll try at some point but I get terrible giggles in the silence and some of those positions, erm… well, let’s revisit this one.

If you’d like to support Dan in his challenge and make a donation, no matter how big or small, head to his JustGiving page.