I’ve just returned home from my annual summer trip. Each year at the end of July I travel for a bit and over the last few years I’ve made these travel trips “off the grid trips.” I travel to places where there’s no wifi and no television and just connect to a slower life and truly decompress. Last year I stayed somewhere that didn’t even have clocks anywhere at all. This year there were clocks but for some reason they were all set at the wrong time which was strange and so it felt like there weren’t any clocks around since they were all wrong.
Some of the things that really stood out to me while on this trip included how long it actually took me to get out from under the feeling of needing to be somewhere, and needing to do something. I also quickly realized how often I check my email. When there’s no way to check email, it’s easy to recognize how often you try to check it. Talk about a reality check.
The first three days were a bit of a transition for me because I could feel a push pull happening within my body and my brain. My body said, “Hey relax, you’re on vacation and you’re 30 minutes from the closest wifi zone.” By brain kept trying to give me reminders about things that I needed to do as soon as I returned home or at least once I got back into a place where I could connect with the rest of the digital world. The opportunity to breathe, reset, and be present was very palpable. I was doing a lot of refocusing and reframing those first few days.
Being physically away from home gave me an opportunity to experience distance from my day to day life but it was really in making a conscious effort to slow down the mental lists and reminders which became the game changer for me. It was almost as if I could feel my body and brain unwinding little by little each hour. Each of those first three days I felt more and more like myself and more and more present. By day 3, I was completely in the zone and on my own body clock time. I noticed that I kept forgetting what day it was and found myself asking, “what day is it?” pretty often. That was a great feeling because it meant that I was just in the moment and enjoying what was happening around me even if that was simply listening the waves on the shore.
One of the side benefits on being off the grid is there’s a quiet that comes over you without you even trying. I spend a good amount of time each day carving out quiet for meditation and reflection. However, there was no need for carving that time out when the distractions of technology were no longer there. It was incredible how quickly I was able to just be in a reflective state naturally and how many insights and ideas made themselves available to me. I also had a lot of memories of how I spent my time prior to 1995-1997 when the majority of American households were welcoming the internet into their lives with open arms.
While I love technology and feel grateful for all it does to connect us to our modern world and new normal; there’s something to be said about down time. I think there’s something valuable in having time throughout the day where you’re present with how you’re feeling and can’t distract yourself by using one of the many devices available to us on regular basis.
There’s a powerful opportunity to feel our feelings and to get to the heart of what we need to know by sitting with ourselves. I think this downtime or void in the day can actually lead to a lot of personal growth in addition to other things like creativity, ideas, inspiration, self actualizing, and yes feeling the hurt or pain that may be holding space within or around us. However, even if the down time doesn’t feel comfortable at first, it will become easier and even something to look forward to the more that it’s invested in and nurtured.
While I was off the grid I asked how I could translate this experience into my day to day life once I got back into the grid. Below you’ll see what I received; I hope this will help you create some downtime in your daily life as well.
Create Tech Free Zones and Times Within Your Home
- No devices during meal times, not even at the table turned on silent is an easy way to incorporate a tech free time.
- Creating a tech free zone in your bedroom and in the bathroom/s is an easy way to add tech free spaces.
- You can add other areas/rooms as well based on what feels like a fit for you.
Avoid “Multi-Tasking” With Multiple Devices
- If you’re watching a movie, don’t answer emails or scroll social media feeds at the same time. Be present and place your other devices in another room where you can’t see or hear them.
- *Research shows it’s not possible to multi task and that the brain can only focus on one task at a time even though we may believe we’re able to do many things at once, we’re actually turning on to one task while turning off to another.
- *Fragmenting your time can lead to low grade anxiety, frustration, irritability, shortened attention spans and lack of focus.
Call It A Day
- Shut your laptop and notebook off when you’re finished working. Don’t leave them on just in case you might need to send one more email or check one more thing. This creates a low grade anxiety which keeps you plugged into the energy of something outside of what you’re doing, creating distractions.
- Step away from your devices and if possible go outside and decompress from the constant stimulation and interruptions from your devices. If you can walk or move your body you’ll be able to decompress and clear your mind and body more quickly and effectively.
- Turn off your devices. You’ll feel a shift happen for you and you’ll become aware of any patterns or habits you’ve created around your devices. The more power down’s you take, even in small amounts of time, the easier it will be for you to be present, reduce low grade tech induced anxiety, and increase your attention span and focus.
- Being outside and off your device allows you to let down and get back to your own body clock and natural rhythm. Mother Nature will support you in slowing down and clearing away any residue that you may have collected from being indoors and around electro magnetic frequencies (EMF’s). Placing your bare feet on soil, sod, or sand will help to clear your body of EMF’s which cause inflammation. (Things that end in “itis” are inflammation related. Colitis, Arthritis, Sinusitis, etc.)
- Being outside will help you to feel more like yourself again and support you in having clearer thinking, less stress, and increased energy.
Since being home I’ve been incorporating these techniques into my day and they’re really helping me to create balance as I reintegrate back into my work schedule.
This is helping me to create a sweet spot between work, rest, and play.
I hope these support tools will help you too!
P.S. Do you have a friend, family member, or colleague who could use some support in decompressing from the intensity of our modern digital world? Please pass this on to them for me, thank you so much!
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