You might have read that September is the month that the Royal Public Health Society is urging everyone to “take back control” and stop scrolling through their social media feeds.
So I'm wondering how much you are missing Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and the rest? Everyone knows that social media is often distracting and can even be addictive. We know that we are not meant to be on our phones at social events, the dinner table or in the bedroom, but are you finding that you are giving way to temptation?
An integral part of my role as Harrogate's dedicated property finder is getting to know my clients very well and understanding how a house and potential purchase can not only support their lifestyle, but be a home filled with experiences that they enjoy for years to come. The secret is getting a strong match between the lives of the family members and the dynamics of the home.
So, I'm going to set everyone an audacious goal of enjoying the moment and being in your home and not on your phone. The autumn equinox is upon us and it's a good time to boost our feelings of wellbeing and there's no place like home, to make a start.
Rediscover the joy of actually using, or developing, the features of your home and living better. While we are a nation that enjoys a bit of DIY, research has shown that many of us have admitted to paying a professional to fix DIY mistakes, so forgive me for not including DIY in my suggestions.
Here's my magnificent seven tips for putting the phone away and enjoying time at home:
1. Rediscover the garden and its transient beauty. It doesn't matter whether you have acres of land or just a window box, there's nothing better than reconnecting with nature. Create some winter colour to help you through those dark winter months or maybe plant a few bulbs for a spectacular display next Spring.
You can still beat the winter blues indoors and enjoy a spectrum of colour and comforting scents. Popular choices include fresh herbs, peace lilies, cacti (currently on trend) and of course lavender brings colour, scent and comfort. Work those window sills.
2. The kitchen is the heart of the home and often reveals a lot about our lives; through the aesthetics, kitchen magnet displays and our kitchen tools. When was the last time you threw a dinner party?
If you have a dining kitchen you can always chat and cook. A decent bottle of wine always seems to relax the chef and the guests alike. Don't panic if your inner chef deserted you years ago, there are plenty of ways around this: good old Marks & Spencer is one or search out your local ready meal supplier. Get that kitchen working for you.
3. Movie night – okay, it's a screen but at least it's a big one. Grab some family members or friends and rediscover the fun of making a night of it. If you fancy getting more of that big screen feel and hi-fidelity surround sound, then the team at The Sound Organisation in York, and others like them can help you. Your experience of blockbusters and indie films at home will rise to a whole new level.
4. Set up your mini home gym. A 2017 study revealed smartphone use in the UK was 65.3 hours per week, over two hours per day for every smart phone user. Department of Health guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week, or 30 minutes on five days a week. So, use some of that phone time and grab a bit of space on your patio, your garage or even in front of the TV. You'd be amazed at the toning you can achieve if you dig out that old Reebok step, a set of dumbbells and maybe even a Swiss ball if you're feeling trendy.
5. Listen to some music. I mean really listen, not just put something on in the background whilst you do the dishes. Dig out your CD collection, or better still, your vinyl if you're feeling retro, close your eyes and let the music wash over you. Or if you are prepping for that dinner party, why not try a spot of food dancing Sainsbury's style.
6. Sit back and relax. Modern life can be extremely stressful as we all try and juggle family, work and friendship. Reward yourself with a little quiet time in your favourite chair, breathe deeply and just chill. Read a paper from cover to cover, dive into a favourite book genre or just sit back, relax and enjoy being in your home.
7. Finally, the end of September will come soon enough. Social media has brought many benefits in keeping people in touch; taking and sharing photographs and giving consumers and businesses a reach previously unimaginable. It has also brought a sense of fun for many.
However, balance is the key and while you can experience a download, you can't download an experience. Try to spend a little extra time trying some of the ideas above and remember this catchphrase: “enjoy being in your home; not on your phone.”
*Sheree Foy is founder of Source Harrogate, The Property Finders, tel: 01423 788759, www.sourceharrogate.co.uk