The power of digital detox

My business is largely reliant on the internet, this making digital detox’s impossible for me for at least 5 days out of 7.

Therefore, having a digital detox holiday is a must.

When I escaped the online world completely for 3 weeks whilst travelling through Myanmar (Burma), not only due to lack of reception but personal choice, it was a true blessing.

No emails, no social media, no internet. I managed to break my streak only once when letting my parents know back at home that I wasn’t one of the travellers killed in the plane crash which took place in the Myanmar mountains (good reason? I think so). Other then that one exception, I made it through with minimal effort.

This year, my opportunity came in the form of a yoga retreat. Much to my surprise, not only was I the only one who decided to ditch their devices, but I was the only one who conceived the idea! Nobody else (even the teacher) even thought about detoxing despite the perfect setting to do so.

What I missed

I crave time away from being connected and constantly available. I find it hard to do at home, but when I’m away and set my intention I find it oh so easy. I love taking photos of the sunset and sunrise, and at the retreat I couldn’t take photos of them and share them. So instead, I simply watched them.

At the retreat, I mostly missed “The Google” (as my mother calls it). I wanted to look up the chef’s blog and recipe book, I wanted to know the weather for the day; I wondered if my next accommodation was confirmed. I was halfway through an episode of Downton Abbey which I couldn’t finish.

I did the old fashioned thing and wrote stuff I wanted to look up later. Like on, you know, a piece of paper…

Addicted to digital

Over 60% of people admit to being addicted to the internet and their devices. I really think it’s worth asking the question…would I find it difficult to not take my phone with me on holidays, to grab a coffee, to go for a walk, to go to bed, to…?

I spend every working day sitting in front of screens and I go home and have my phone and iPad nearby.

I check my email first thing and last thing in the day – as I do the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram twirl. Like most professionals, I spend up to 10 hours a day online.

Our constant need for new stimulation, endless access to information and social connection is changing our brains. It’s impacting our long-term memory as well as our mental wellbeing.

At times I wonder if our addiction to digital is making us to lead lives that are a centimetre deep, and a kilometre wide.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with digital. In fact, I love so many things about the internet and social media. But I do think there are very many valid reasons not to step away from digital from time to time. And I think it’s so important to question our use of digital and digital devices.

Do nothing. Be bored.

Amazing things happens when you are not constantly digitally stimulated. Your mind quietens down. When was the last time you experienced that? Noticing your breath, hearing your heart beat and really taking notice of your surroundings.

Walking down the street with your only view being the piece of glass in your hand checking Facebook means that you’re missing the moments in time that nature gifts us; a beautiful sunset, the sun through the trees or leaf drifting by in the breeze.

Be brave, and feel the sensation of being bored. Don’t pick up the phone. Just daydream instead. Even try meditation.

Turning back time

We have seen noticeable resurgence in creating traditional crafts in the past few years and I think it’s a reaction to how virtual our lives have become. Maybe think about how you can incorporate a form of ‘slowing down’ into your life.

For me, I spend hours at a time sitting on my lounge room floor surrounded by leaves, twigs and vines, weaving sculptures. A practice I found, after searching for more creativity and less computers in my life.

Focussing on one task

The average employee checks 40 websites a day, switching activities 37 times an hour, changing tasks every two minutes. That constant task changing is impacting productivity.

I used to have a million tabs open, plus email. Now I find them so distracting, I shut it all down when I’m working on a task such as writing. I didn’t use to find it a problem, but now with cognitive overload I find it much more productive to focus on one task.

I’m enjoying the process of diving deep into one task. For a multitasking junkie, trust me, I never thought I would say that!

The internet is a truly important and significant part of my life which not only supports my social life and Google curiosity but my entire business. It’s not a concept that for me, and I believe many others, is going away any time soon. That’s not a bad thing! The internet can be a curse but it too, is truly a blessing. But in conjunction with my already existing efforts on digitally detoxing with my annual holiday, I am trying to expand my efforts beyond the vacation and into my day to day life with digital free rituals. It may take some time….

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