The most present, calm, grounded, and centered I’ve ever felt was years ago on a 30-day backpacking trek through the Indian Himalayas. There’s an analogy my fellow backpackers and I regularly discussed. Because of modern technology, our attention is pulled in so many directions. It’s as if there are a dozen or more TVs that are constantly playing in the back of your mind. One of them may be worries about work, another about finances, one for relationships, and they’re all competing for our attention. The constant concerns and can get downright exhausting! But, when you give your body and mind the opportunity to unplug from the constant digital distraction, these TVs shut off one by one.
Taking Back Control of Your Thoughts
After a week, many of your worries have fallen by the wayside. You’re calm, present, centered, and focused on the now. It’s a truly liberating feeling when all of your attention is on the present moment. The mental chatter that characterizes your day-to-day has been silenced, and you’re in control of your thoughts. It offers you a fresh perspective on life, can improve your attention span, and foster creativity. Above all else, it adds a much-needed calmness amongst the chaos of the day-to-day grind.
Perhaps a 30 day long trek without technology and electronics is a bit extreme. For the near future maybe it’s out of the question. The good news is everyone can take a quick digital detox, large or small. Try taking a digital detox to experience the benefits of unplugging from technology, your mind and body will thank you. Use these tips to get started.
Many people nowadays have trouble being away from their devices for even an hour. Some of us even experience phantom rings, where we feel a vibration in our pockets, only to find there’s no new notification and the vibration was just our imagination. Give yourself a break by going just one evening without your phone, computer, iPad, and television. Turn off the notifications from all of your apps, so when you do use your tech, it won’t be pulling your attention away from the task at hand.
Go a whole day.
That’s right, 24 hours without the use of technology. No computer, phone, tablet, podcast, or television. If you’re worried your life and world may come crumbling down, give your friends, loved ones, and family a heads up that you’ll be unplugging for the day. Try getting outdoors and in nature. Go for a hike, walk in the park, or somewhere away from the constant electronic distraction.
Detox for a weekend.
Going a whole two days without technology may seem daunting, but it’s much easier than it sounds. Notify the people you care about you’ll be unplugging for the whole weekend, and give them a way to reach you in case of an emergency. Shut down the laptop, unplug the router, and turn your phone on airplane mode. Grab a book, get outdoors, or get back in touch with your creative side. It may feel uncomfortable the first few hours, but make it a priority to focus on being present with whatever you’re doing.
Digital detox vacation.
To really experience the benefits of unplugging, schedule a vacation for a few days. If you’re up for it, try taking a week or more where you’ll go off the grid. Hiking, backpacking, relaxing on the beach, or exploring a new city – the destination doesn’t matter. Leave the electronics at home, notify your loved ones you’ll be unreachable, and set your out-of-office responder. If it puts your mind at ease, give your loved ones the contact info of the hotel or accommodations where you’re staying. That way, if they really need to, they can still get in touch. Use the time away from technology as a chance to reconnect with the outdoors, your creative side, and take stock of your life and obligations. When we unplug for an extended period of time, it enables us to look at our lives and the direction they’re going with a fresh perspective.
Above all else, technology should be a complement to our lives, and should add value, not distraction. When you find yourself anxious to be away from your devices for more than a couple hours, ask yourself a question. Are you controlling your technology, or is it controlling you?