How often do you take time to switch off? And I don’t mean just going on a holiday. I mean really, truly switch off from all the distractions of the world?
Even when we go away on holidays, our minds are never far from home. Let’s face it, it’s pretty hard to resist that little piece of technology that helps us stay connected with our friends, family and what’s going on in the world 24/7.
We as human beings are hardwired for connection. It’s in our DNA. It’s what makes us tick (this is something Brene Brown talks about in her book ‘Daring Greatly’, which I highly recommend).
There are now so many ways for us to stay connected beyond just a simple old phone call, with text messages, email, skype, face time, snap chat, Facebook messenger, Whatsapp, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram. It’s enough to make you giddy, isn’t it?
It’s hardly surprising that anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in Australia, with more than 2 million people experiencing anxiety in a 12 month period. Our minds are constantly stimulated. We are a a culture that thrives on being busy. We fill our lives with so much. And now, when we do have down time, we fill it looking at what’s going on in other peoples live (yes, I am guilty of this!)
The solution? ‘Mindfulness’ would have to be the biggest buzz word of our time. It’s something I’ve been working hard at incorporating into my own life. But it’s not easy to block out all the noise, is it?
I did my first digital detox at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat and got so much out of the experience I swore I’d do it at least once a year from then on. I was able to truly switch off, appreciate the beauty of my surrounds, the people around me, read the book that had been sitting on my bedside table for 3 months, learn, try new things and get my creative juices flowing.
Lots of people have been asking how I fared without technology. The truth? I could have gone for another week, at least!
The ideas, perspective, sense of calm and energy I gained in that time were so profound, I know now that switching off from the outside world on a regular basis is key to me being able to sustain an online business and the world of social media, while keeping my health and sanity in check.
There’s a brilliant TED talk on people who take sabbaticals and the often overlooked value of time off. Designer Stefan Sagmeister closes his New York studio every seven years for a year long sabbatical to refresh and rejuvenate. Okay so a year off might not be practical for all of us, or even a week, but there’s no question of the value in calling ‘time out’ from our lives.
If I’m yet to convince you of of the power of doing a digital detox, here’s 10 reasons I hope will get you over the line….
10 REASONS TO DIGITAL DETOX
1. Create space for the most important person in this world – YOU.
Give yourself permission not to feel guilty about all the things you could, would or should have done, the emails you haven’t responded to, the friend you have been meaning to call.
2. Break the cycle, get perspective, re-energise and re-set.
Spot the blindspots – things you repeatedly do that aren’t serving you, and identify other parts of your life you may need to detox too – prioritise the people and things you give your energy to.
3. Feel present and connected to the people around you – have meaningful conversations without having to worry about who may be trying to contact you or what’s happening on your Instagram feed.
4. Enjoy your surroundings through your eyes instead of your phone’s camera lens.
5. Boost your IQ – read things that will make you smarter in the time you’d usually use to scroll through you’re instagram feed
6. Experience nature – being in nature isn’t a pre-requisite for a digital detox but I highly recommend it, barefoot too!
7. Kill comparison – as Theodore Roosevelt once said, ‘comparison is the thief of joy.’ By shutting out all the noise there’s no temptation to think or worry about what other people are doing.
8. Get your creative juices flowing
9. Reduce your exposure to mobile phone radiation
10. Realise that the world won’t fall apart without you.
Are you sold yet?
Don’t worry if you can’t unplug for 7 days. Even the tiniest tweaks to how you go about your day can make the biggest difference.
I’m making a conscious effort in two areas of my daily routine that are having a real impact:
1. Not being a slave to my messages and devices: I’m setting aside time each day to check and respond to emails and messages, instead of getting distracted by them and letting them hijack my day.
2. Treating the beginning and end of each day as sacred, for me this means not checking messages, emails etc until after my morning exercise, this is my time to focus and ensure I go into the day feeling calm and energised. And switching off my devices at least one hour before bed and not taking them into my bedroom at night so that it is a place of rest without distraction.
Sure, not every day goes like this. But the days that do are the days that I am the most productive, well rested and best equipped to tackle any challenges that come my way.