- Earth week -

16th April '17
Day 0

I haven't seen my ex for a while now. Mostly that's because we work very different schedules, and Songkran would be a rare occasion when we'd be off work at the same time.

She wasn't very impressed when I told her that I'd be uncontactable for the entire holiday because I felt like turning my phone off, and that we therefore wouldn't be able to meet.

I also spoke to another person that I was once very close to, who responded "What's happening to you? You're vegan, you don't drink, you're turning your phone off..."

That was just in case she tried to contact me, I hadn't even told her I'd also be without TV, clocks etc.

It goes without saying, that from the very small handful of people I'd told even a watered-down version of this detox to, I wasn't getting a whole lot of support. I wanted to do it though, and it had to be now. When would be the next time that I could just turn everything off for a week?

Not until at least August. My job wouldn't allow it until then.

And rather than setting a loose time, I'd very specifically decided that at 11:55pm on that Sunday night, everything would go off.

I kept to that, despite being in the middle of a rare game of Battlefield where I was actually doing quite well.

The second that the clock struck 11:55pm, I turned-off or unplugged my iPhone, my watch, my TV, my Apple TV, my wifi, my PS4, my set-top box, and I even lay face-down the one clock in my apartment independent to all of these.

And so it began.

Day 1

Things felt different almost immediately on waking.

Normally I wake up, and the second that my eyes are open, my brain is going 100mph. I'll reach for my phone, and from that very first moment I'm doing things.

On this day though, for the first time in years really, I just kind of lay there in bed. I never do that anymore.

I really had nothing 'to do' per se, so after a lot of sitting in bed and looking out of the window while contemplating life, I walked to Bonita, my favourite restaurant in Bangkok.

This was quite a long walk; probably about an hour. And it amazed even me how happy and relaxed I was feeling just walking down the street.

Without all of my devices, my brain hadn't really switched-on for the day, so I guess I was just feeling content in ignorance. But it was almost an instant thing:

Turn off your devices, be happy.

I rarely go to this restaurant, such is the distance. But they always remember me in there, so I enjoy coming back. And without a phone to look at, I just kind of sat there, staring into space.

I got the feeling that there was going to be a lot of doing that over this coming week.

I'd endeavoured to avoid knowing the time this week, but I also knew that wouldn't be entirely possible, because other people do unfortunately still use clocks, and I accidentally glanced at one up on the wall as I was leaving this restaurant. It was 3:10pm.

I'd been relaxed all day, and it was almost unnerving to realise quite how stress-inducing time really is, because the second that I'd seen it, my mind just started jumping to all of the things that I had to do.

"Ok, it's 3:10pm now, so if I go here and it takes this long, then I'll be home by x:xx. Then it'll take me xx minutes to do xx..."

As in the last blog I mentioned that I would, I then went to the bookstore. And in there they had three shelves of meditation/mindfulness books. That was what I wanted to read about this week, and I eventually settled on 'The Mindfulness Bible' by Dr Patrizia Collard because:

"A new threat facing us in the 21st century is something we thought would make our lives easier: everyday technology.

A growing body of research on the subject of 'burn-out' shows that more and more people use their smartphones and tablets in bed, while having a shower, and in other previously private and technology-free environments.

We constantly receive emails and text messages, and often we feel that unless we respond more or less immediately, people will think something dreadful must have happened to us; or that we might lose our job. Some individuals get so hooked that they can no longer find the 'off' switch, and this can lead to burn-out or stress-related depression."
"... People seem to have lost the ability to 'simply be', 'enjoy the moment', and just have a cup of tea or eat lunch without continuing to work on their computer."

- Page 21

I read it for a while in the shop, and it seemed to agree with the exact problems that I'd seen in the world, and it delved into the science of how stress and mindfulness affect your brain

Equally importantly though, it had pictures.

Don't judge me.

There seems to be a stigma against people that like to read books with pictures, but I don't get it. Why would I want to stare at pages of black and white characters when I could look at something colourful and pleasing?

I hadn't quite set it as a requirement the last time that I wrote, but I decided that I was also going to keep the lights in my apartment switched-off.

I'd been thinking a lot about how unnatural our relationship with light is nowadays. We evolved with daylight and darkness. Now though, our eyes are bombarded with light not just from lights, but from TV screens, phone screens, watch screens etc., and I wanted my body to go back to simply daylight and darkness.

That obviously presents some problems because, despite starting dinner when it was still light, it took me about 30 minutes to put together some vegan tuna salad sandwiches from scratch, save for the bread which I'd made earlier.

I had to finish making them in the dark, and to eat, for the first time ever I sat on my tiny balcony.

I had to put my chair and little folding table diagonal just to fit out there, but it was the only place with enough daylight remaining to see as I ate.

With this exception, the darkness didn't give me too many more problems, aside from trying to get toothpaste onto my toothbrush. I know the layout of my tiny apartment backwards, so I was able to do what I had to do to get ready for bed.

And then I went to bed.

I don't know the exact time, but sunset is roughly 7pm, so I was going to bed about five hours earlier than is normal for me. As always, I had some theories though.

First was that at a solar eclipse in the past, I remember reading about how, in reacting to the dimming daylight, birds will get ready for bed.

I figured that by allowing my body to tire and my brain to adjust to the gradual loss of daylight, then I wouldn't actually have any trouble getting to sleep, despite being five hours earlier than normal. And this proved true.

I also didn't anticipate sleeping right through until dawn, having read at some time in the past how it was normal for hunter-gatherers to wake and move around multiple times every night.

Now was only about three weeks removed from the March equinox, and Bangkok is pretty close to the equator anyway, so I was going to have to get used to a pretty flat 12 hours of light, and 12 hours of dark everyday.

Seeing as how I typically sleep for about eight hours per night, I expected to be awake for a lot of this first night, and this also proved true. And it was perhaps the one instance where not knowing the time was frustrating, because as I lay there awake, I had no inkling whether it was 9pm or 5am, or how long I'd slept for.

I eventually dropped-off again though, not waking until after dawn and feeling very well-slept.

Day 2

This day started in pretty much the same way, by laying in bed for a while after waking up.

Then I ate some fruit in bed; the first time that I've ever eaten in bed in this condo. Then I drank a cup of green tea in bed.

I'm not sure why I felt so inclined to be in bed. Normally I'd spend most of my waking hours in the living room. But seeing as how I spent most of my time in bed, staring up at the sky out of the window, it was probably something to do with an attraction to light, and my bed just happens to be right by the window.

Normally my living room has a TV and a computer screen, but without them it was dark and dingy, and I felt far more comfortable gazing up at the sky.

Or without the usual distractions, perhaps I was feeling an engrained desire to be outside during waking hours, particularly in the middle of the day.

I remember reading a theory once, that back when we were all living in Africa, humans evoled into bipedal animals because by standing upright, we had less surface area exposure to the bright African sunlight. That meant we could go out foraging at the hottest times of the day, when it was too hot for our predators, who were walking on all fours.

If that's true, then maybe there's a lingering desire inherent within us to be outside during the hotter times of day, and being drawn towards light.

And when I did eventually go out, it was to the second and third supermarkets in the past two days.

I was currently on a seemingly hopeless hunt for vegetable bouillon; an essential ingredient in one of my pasta dishes.

I didn't find any on this trip, but I did finally track-down celery seeds; the final ingredient that I needed to make my own instant vegetable stock. But alas, the recipe was stored on my phone and I'd forgotten to write it down. Which was frustrating.

Unlike yesterday though, where my walk to Bonita had been through a somewhat sleepy area and down a lot of side-roads, this time I was going down a main road in heavy traffic, and it was making me feel somewhat anxious.

Normally in my apartment, there are lights and beeps emitting from all of my various devices, so it mimics what I encounter outside in this busy city. Today though, my shaded, serene apartment was in stark contrast to the Bangkok traffic, and it took me a while to adjust to it.

Have you ever slept in a room with no windows and with no natural light, and when you wake-up in the morning with no inkling of what time it is, you feel somewhat disoriented?

It was the same kind of feeling as that.

I sat in Starbucks for a while between supermarkets, and that seemed to give my mind the breather that it needed to calm down and return to the happier state of yesterday.

And then after both supermarkets failed to yield vegetable bouillon, I got the bus home because, unlike yesterday, I hadn't encounterd a single clock today, and I didn't want to make dinner in the dark again.

It made me wonder if this was the first day in my life, save for being a baby, where not once did I know what time it was. I can't recall another.

Using the sun as my guide, I greatly misjudged how much more daylight there was, because after finishing dinner I still had plenty more time to make an earnest start on my book.

You have to take that with a pinch of salt. There's a reason I don't read very often. When it comes to books, I have the attention span of a small child. I can only read a handful of pages at a time before I need to take a break, but even what little I did read made me realise that... this was a good purchase. It was written from a perspective that I could get on board with.

Even after that it was still light, so I had a fruit smoothie as a sort-of... second dinner, so that I wouldn't go hungry in the night.

Telling the time by the position of the sun really isn't as easy as it sounds. If I didn't know better, I'd swear that it moves at different speeds each day.

That night was very similar to the last, in that I got to sleep no problem. But I didn't stay asleep, and that was the part of this experiment that I was enjoying the least.

Without clocks, I can't tell you how long it was. But in twelve hours of darkness, it's a fair assumption that I was again awake for around four, meaning I'd spent eight hours in the past two days, laying in bed and staring at the ceiling in darkness.

And for both nights it was the same pattern. When I first woke up it was fine. I was happy to just lay there and think. But after a couple of hours, it became frustrating. Not knowing how long I was from sunrise grew irritating, as did the feeling that it was a huge waste of time.

Had I turned a light on, then I could have read my book. Were there even less restriction, I could have played Battlefield of watched Game of Thrones. As it was I just lay there, the combination of not knowing what time it was, and not being able to make use of this time, growing ever more cumbersome.

Day 3

Eventually I did get back to sleep, and again I woke feeling very rested. This certainly ensured that my body could have as much sleep as it wanted, even if the conscious hours in the night were something of an annoyance.

And I suppose that to look at it from an evolutionary perspective, night-time isn't supposed to be enjoyable.

Many people are scared of the dark. Kids imagine monsters in the dark.

A year or so ago, I remember reading that scientists discovered that the memory of traumatic experiences can be passed-on through sperm.

I can't remember much more detail of this study, and I probably only read the first couple of lines of the article anyway, and then drew my own conclusions, because that's what I do. But assuming that is true, monsters in the darkness are likely lingering memories of our ancestors being attacked by jaguars in the night, or something like that.

And to appreciate something good, you have to experience an equal bad.

Kids who're born rich don't appreciate their money, because they've never experienced being poor. So maybe hating night-time is necessary in order to appreciate the day.

Regardless, these hours laying there awake at night, unsure of the time and hopeless to do anything, certainly were the part of this detox that I was enjoying the least.

As for everything else, to my surprise I didn't miss the Internet or my iPhone or my laptop at all.

The only part of those which I didn't like was basically being uncontactable at the moment, so there were little 'What if...?' questions lingering in my mind that there could be some kind of emergency, and I'd be unaware of it. With that exception though, I was now more than two days without phone or Internet, and I genuinely didn't miss it at all. That was a little surprising.

I wasn't missing the activity tracking of my watch either, nor knowing my weight or my fat percentage.

In fact for all that I'd taken away, I'd say there were only three things I missed.

I missed having lights, because having darkness for 12 hours per day was a pain. I missed having the time, because in both day and night, being completely oblivious to when it was, was just annoying.

Being without each of those things kind of magnified the other as well.

If I knew the time, then predicting sunrise and sunset would be easy, so I'd know when to cook, and I'd know how long I'd slept for and how many more hours of darkness there would be.

Or using lights would render not knowing the time as somewhat irrelevant, because I'd be able to cook after sundown, or read my book in the night. Being without both though... yeah, that was by far the hardest part of this.

And then somewhat oddly, I also missed my PS4. Especially although not exclusively in moments of boredness, I did find myself thinking 'fuck, I want to play Battlefield right now.'

That was a little surprising. It's a game as stressful and infuriating as it is enjoyable, so I thought I'd be happy to be rid of the option or even the obligation to play it. But no, I missed it. Perhaps an element of Stockholm syndrome.

That was about it though. I didn't miss my watch, I didn't miss my phone, I didn't miss the Internet except to play Battlefield online, I didn't really miss TV, except when I was laying there bored at night.

It made me realise that there's a lot of room to 'declutter' my life of things that don't seem to matter to me.

Or should it be the other way around? If my PS4 is the thing that I miss, then should that be what I try to limit?

This day followed the pattern of the previous two, in that after having breakfast and a cup of green tea, today while reading my book, my ventures outside were foraging for food.

Or going to the shops as it's otherwise known.

This was the last day before Songkran, and in my head I knew what I was going to cook on each of these three days:

Day 1, falafel burgers, day 2, (vegan) tuna salad sandwiches, day 3, (vegan) mac 'n' cheese. I just needed some final fresh ingredients, plus I got some potatoes because they're so versatile and last a while, I figured they were a good backup food in case I misjudged how much I was going to eat.

One thing that I couldn't quite figure-out in all of this, is why I was spending half the night laying awake, bored and wishing to be anywhere but in bed, but come the daytime, I couldn't quite wake-up.

I was feeling continually drowsy, and anytime I did sit-down, I closed my eyes for a little doze.

I'd figured that turning everything off would make me more alert and aware to what was going on around me, but it wasn't proving true at all.

Perhaps related more to the way I'd been sleeping than to my lack of devices, I found myself struggling to feel truly awake at any point in the day.

The one thing that I will say though, is that this was a life void of stress. At no point in the past three days had I felt stressed-out or angry.

The point of this detox was to remove the stresses from my life and... well I'd done that.

As with yesterday, a trip to Starbucks followed the supermarket, and I took my book with me in order to get through the next handful of pages. And if you asked me at this point what the greatest victory of this experimental week had been, then this was it.

Had I not been doing this, then I never would have found/bought this book that I was finding to be fascinating.

I read in dribs and drabs; I always do. I'm not someone that can read a whole book in a day. I can't hold my attention for more than a few pages in a sitting.

I like to read a bit, take some time to digest it, then read some more. And even while I'm reading I'll sometimes read a paragraph, then close the book to stop and think about it for a minute, then read another and so on. It's why it takes me months to read books that take other people hours, and it's why I read so few books.

Without the distraction of technology though, I was able to read this book a few lines at a time, and really digest and think about what it said, and how it applied to me.

That was the greatest benefit that I was feeling from all of this, and it really had very little to do with this detox, apart from providing me with less distraction.

I followed Starbucks by going across the street for a quick visit to Lumphini Park; a place that I'd been planning on spending far more time this week, to spend time in 'nature' per se. But the heat had dictated that it was just too hot to be comfortable outside.

They play the national anthem in the park everyday at 6pm, and so 10-15 minutes after arriving, I knew what the time was for the first time in more than 48 hours. And it was time to rush home if I intended to make dinner with any daylight left.

This is what I mean there's an inevitable stress that comes with time. Prior to this I'd been relaxing in Starbucks, and then relaxing in the park, just enjoying the fresh air and being outside. The second that I knew the time though, I felt compelled to rush and start doing something.

Almost subconsciously, you need to do certain things by certain times, but when you don't know the time, you're suddenly free from such obligations.

This also dictated to me what to have for dinner, because after the walk home, I knew that I couldn't have more than about thirty minutes of daylight left, so I made a bowl of oatmeal, simply for how quick it is.

Is it a good thing that time compels me to act in a manner whereby I'm able to do what I need to get done, in the time that I have to do it? Or a bad thing that adds stress where before there was none?

Being in darkness, I had little choice but to go to bed after dinner, but this night was a little different to the previous two.

On this night, I guess semi-intentionally, I didn't fall asleep immediately. Instead I had the inevitable conscious hours of my twelve-hour night before falling asleep, so when I eventually did lose consciousness, I didn't wake-up until dawn.

This made it far more bearable, because I wasn't laying awake wondering what time it was and if it was about to get light.

There was a paragraph from my book that was resonating in my mind as I lay there. And it talked about how a dog, in some people, can invoke feelings of love and happiness. For example, in people who had a dog as a pet as a child. But in other people, this exact same dog can invoke fear or sadness. Perhaps someone who was bitten as a child.

And it used this analogy to demonstrate that objects themselves don't matter, rather it is our understanding of what they mean that matters. So I lay there thinking about what items and what people I think negatively about, and why.

Being a book on mindfulness, it obviously focusses a lot on stress, and explains the science of how the human brain works in a manner so simple that dummies like me, who know nothing of psychology, can understand. And reading what little I had so far, had really got me thinking about where and why I have stress in my life.

And one mistake that I've made, is blaming technology for the stress that comes with it. The PlayStation stresses me out, it's the PlayStation's fault. The iPhone stresses me out, it's the iPhone's fault.

And sure, a nuclear option is to just remove the devices altogther. If there's no iPhone, then there's no stress from the iPhone. But it's a very immature way of addressing the problem. It's kind of like saying that to stop terrorism, we'll get rid of muslims. Or to stop motor accidents, we'll get rid of cars.

I started thinking much more about not only these devices that I was detoxing from, but many people and things.

If a person annoys me, but that same person doesn't annoy other people, then the person isn't the problem. It's the way that I receive and view that person that is the problem. If a device causes me stress, but that same device doesn't cause stress to other people, then the device isn't the problem.

I started taking accountability for and thinking of ways to address stresses and annoyances, rather than just being angry that they're there.

My book also explained the science behind why stress inhibits things like creativity and causes you to say things in anger that you later regret.

It made me think more about how if I'm doing anything, whether it be planning classes or playing Battlefield, and I'm doing so stressed, then I'm not going to be at my best. So turn-off the video games if they're stressing me out. Save that class for later.

Stress is a survival tool almost unnecessary in cities. It's not a creativity tool, and I need to remember that.

Although remembering that now, and remebering it when I'm stressed-out are two completely different things.

Day 4

I'd been looking forward to today because it marked the halfway point, and in any endurance activity it's comforting to know that you've got more behind you than you've got in front of you.

I also coincidentally felt like this was the day that I started feeling comfortable with all of this.

There's going to be an inevitable adjustment period when you suddenly start spending four more hours in bed each night, and your eyes aren't awoken by a barrage of screens. And it was only about now that I feel that I got used to it all and actually started enjoying being without my devices.

I also relished the thinking time, because what will normally tend to happen is that any spare second will get filled.

I'm not actually as bad at this as most people. On trains for example, I rarely use my phone. But many people nowadays, they can't have an empty second.

Almost as a reflex reaction to any silence or discomfort, they reach for their phone.

Can't think of anything to say, I'll look at my phone. Don't know where to look, I'll look at my phone. Not sure what to do, I'll look at my phone.

All of these empty spaces were once spaces that people used to think. Now any spare minutes that I have are spent watching TV or looking at my phone or something.

When you eat a meal, you don't want to get up right away. You want to relax for a bit and let it settle.

Normally I eat in front of the TV though, so this time is spent finishing whatever show I'm watching, or flicking through YouTube.

Without that, it went back to being time where I'd sit and think, and there were hundreds of other moments through my day that suddenly became thinking moments. And I was enjoying that. So much more time to just sit and contemplate life.

It was brutally hot on this day, as evidenced by when I went swimming, leaving my key cards on a deckchair, I got out of the pool and they had become key frazzled bits of plastic.

They still open the door to my condo, but don't slide so nicely into my pocket anymore.

I'd needed to go swimming though, because I needed to do something to keep my muscles active during the Songkran hibernation.

For a second I did even contemplate that 'hey, this is a period of mourning still. Maybe Songkran has been tempered this year.'

But then I went to the entrance of my building to fill-up my drinking water bottles, and there was a fat kid with a hose pipe standing between me and 7-11, thirty seconds away.

Yeah, there's no way that I'm making it to Starbucks.

Day 5

That night was much like the one before, in that all of my waking hours in bed came at the beginning, and once I did finally get to sleep, I slept right through until dawn.

Despite that, I woke up 90% certain that this was going to be the final day of this detox.

It wasn't that I couldn't last a further 48 hours. I've taken bus journeys longer than 48 hours. Rather I had reached the point of wondering what benefit there would be to keeping this up for seven days, that there wouldn't be in five.

What was I going to learn or gain from these final two days?

Having time to just sit and think had been the part of this process that I had most enjoyed, but you can have too much of a good thing, and it was a fair assumption that for each of my twelve-hour nights, I'd been awake for four.

That would mean that for every six days of doing this, one full day would be spent lying in bed in the dark, staring at the ceiling.

I was already a third of the way through my two-week vacation, and was about ready to put this time to better use.

I'd also now completed part 1 of my book, which was a brief overview of the reasons, the theories and the science behind meditation and mindfulness, and I'd greatly enjoyed reading it. There'd been enough thought-provoking ideas that'd made me think about myself to jusify buying it, but now I was onto part 2, and part 2 was 'how' to meditate and be mindful.

And if getting a teacher is the best way to learn this, and so is a ten, then learning from a book is a two.

Learning from the apps that I already have and use on my iPhone is a five or a six, so at this point I actually felt hindered by not having my phone available to me.

I'd also long ago come to appreciate that technology itself isn't a problem, rather my relationship with technology is what matters.

And sure, I'd turned-off all my devices and stress had completely evaporated from my life. But like I said before, that's the nuclear option, and not one that I can realistically take with me into the real world.

What I really need to do is ensure that the way I use my devices is neither stressful nor overbearing, but how can I put that into practice when everything is turned-off?

So I couldn't really see any benefit of continuing this detox, other than to complete the arbitrary target of one week that I'd set myself.

Just to be sure, I decided that I'd give myself today to think it over. But unless I found a reason not to, I was going to end this experiment come the morning.

And if anything, this was the worst day.

Imprisoned in my apartment by a fat kid with a hose pipe, there were basically three places I could go:

My room, the pool, and the fitness room/library. And without much worthwhile left to read in my book, time in my room was spent just sitting there, looking out the window.

Like I said already, not a bad thing per se, but you can have too much of a good thing. And you've got to remember that in this world of technology, even more primitive forms of entertainment are stored on my iPhone, so I didn't have music or books or podcasts for company. Just silence and my own thoughts. So after eating lunch and then sitting there and staring into space for about an hour to let it settle, I went down to the fitness room to make use of the machines designed to mimic the movements of humans not trapped in their condos by fat kids with hoses.

On 362 days per year, I don't see the point of these when there's a park so nearby. On these three days though, it's nice to have treadmills and exercise bikes downstairs.

I walked on the treadmill for a while, then I sat alone in the little "library" for a bit, staring into space.

And once that became cumbersome, I went back up to my room and sat in bed staring into space instead.

This was the first time that I was actually looking forward to nightfall, because the sooner the night came, then the sooner tomorrow would come. And on this night I was actually hoping to fall asleep right away and then wake-up in the middle of the night, because I didn't care if it was one minute after midnight, as soon as it was tomorrow and I was conscious, I was going back online.

Yesterday & today

This was the worst night of all of them though. I went to bed at nightfall, so presumably around 7pm, but was laying awake for hours. So long in fact that I felt it must already be past midnight, and I hadn't even slept yet.

I was tempted to check the time here and now, but I eventually dropped-off.

When I awoke again, it was still dark outside, but considering how long it'd taken me to get to sleep, I was convinced that dawn would soon be upon us.

I turned back over the clock that I'd laid face-down on Sunday, to intentionally check the time for the first time in five days.

2:10am. The fuck?

I tried to ignore the fact that it was after midnight and go back to sleep, but it soon became clear that wasn't going to happen. And I'd surely sleep easier in the peace of mind of knowing that everything was ok, so I turned my phone back on to make sure that no one had sent me any emergency messages or emails.

I checked a couple of other things as well, and it was amazing quite how little the world had progressed in my absence.

No one had died, no nuclear war had broken-out.

I soon put my phone down again to go back to sleep, but come 6am, here I still was, lying awake, staring at the ceiling.

My theory had been that to be awake during the day and asleep during the night then I could only sleep well, but sometimes my theories just don't pan-out in practice.

I eventually did drop-off again, only to wake at about 8:30am.

I'd spent roughly thirteen and a half hours in bed. I'd been asleep for maybe four of them.

Yeah, this theory really doesn't pan-out in the real world.

But that was it though. I was back on the grid, my wifi went back on, I started using the light in my windowless bathroom again, instead of leaving the door open and just hoping that the unoccupied house opposite was still unoccupied.

And what would any sane-minded person who's imprisoned in their apartment by a fat kid with a hose do, having stared at the ceiling for ten hours because they didn't want to look at a clock or use a light all week?

Well spend the entire day playing Battlefield of course.

I can't believe that I wasted two of my three imprisoned days not using my PS4. It's the perfect time for it.

But then just like that, everything more or less went back to normal.

The one immediate change that I did make, was turning-off the activity tracking on my Apple Watch.

I love my watch. It's a great workout-tracker, I like getting notifications to my wrist, and I like wearing a time-piece more than I ever anticipated that I would.

At work especially, I need to know the time continually to make sure that my classes are on schedule, and prior to having a watch, I needed my phone to do this, and usually it'd be lost somewhere under the mountain of paper that I take to each class.

By having a watch that not only counts every calorie that I burn and every step that I take, but also sets daily goals for these, I've felt obligated since buying it, to wear my watch at all conscious hours of the day, whether in the shower, at work, in the kitchen...

By turning this off, my watch has become something that I wear when I want to, but putting it on the second that I wake-up every morning is no longer necessary.

I also didn't use my sleep tracker last night. It's another obligation that I think I can do away with.

And well from here, it's just kind of... up to me to figure-out how best to use all of my devices so that I get the benefits of them without them taking over my life.

I'd like to tell you that I can do that without setting myself any hard-and-fast rules, but perhaps I'll have to give myself a couple of PS4-free days each week just to be sure.

Of course, I bought my PS4 last term, when my schedule was as easy as it's been or will be, so who knows if I'll even have the time to play it in the coming term, so maybe fate will take care of that problem for me.

But with this detox out of the way, my focus for the rest of this holiday, is all about health.

You wouldn't think it's still less than a month ago that I completed 100km in the first 17 days of March, because when I compare my health from then until now, it's quite a contrast.

Understandably I was a bit fed-up of running at that point, so my intention was to run less and then fill that vacuum with other exercise.

I'd bought my PS4 a week or so earlier, so instead of filling it with exercise, I filled it with PS4, and since completing that 100km, have exercised very little.

And right now at this moment, particularly after these past three days barely leaving my apartment, I just feel unhealthy.

I feel unfit, my clothes aren't fitting quite as well as when I am exercising regularly.

I went running this afternoon, and did just 5km, which is as short a run as I will ever do. Last month I was running three times that in 36°C without any problems, but today this 5km gave me trouble.

I just felt like someone who's been sat on their couch way too much; I was slow and sluggish and I felt a little nauseous. So now the focus of this second week off is getting back to being a healthy person.

I don't like when 5km makes me tired; that's not me.

I'm also going to try and add meditation to my day a lot more. Maybe a good rule would be that I can't use the PS4 until I've meditated for twenty minutes each day.

I am even contemplating going away somewhere close to Bangkok for a day or two next week, although unless I 100% commit to it, I inevitably don't take these vacations that I think about, so it probably won't happen.

It was interesting this detox though, I learned quite a lot.

Much like living in China, I probably wouldn't do it again, but I don't regret doing it once. Or at least I wouldn't do it again the same way.

If I was camping out in nature, and instead of staring at the ceiling I was looking at the stars, then maybe I'd do away with lights once more. Or if I had someone else to do this with, so instead of staring into space, I had someone to talk to, then perhaps I'd do it like that, although having another person present and taking away their phone may add as much stress as it removes.

Like I said way too many times already though, an overly simple conclusion from all of this is technology-free = stress-free.

It's all very well saying that you need to have a healthy relationship with your devices, but how easy is that in practice? Especially when by being stressed, it inhibits your ability to think about these things logically.

So maybe there will be times when I just say 'fuck it, no more Internet for a bit, no iPhone for a couple of days...'

I'm hoping I can find the right balance without doing that though.

In truth, most people in the world can't, so we'll see how I go.