This year Sebastien and I decided to skip Wanderlust and go away for a quiet romantic weekend. We had both been so busy with work. I had been on a stretch of working every single day without taking a day of (more on establishing boundaries later…) and was craving some connection with my partner. And so we decided to take a digital detox.
We had decided to head to Galiano island for the long weekend and turn off our cell phones with the intention of being present . The last time I had taken a break from my technology was at least 5 years ago. It used to be so easy to do when we travelled. But now there’s wifi and cell phone connection almost everywhere.
- We would turn our phones off except for when checking Maps and to make dinner reservations
- We could use our phones for photos
- We would still watch movies and shows on our computers
We decided on the following ground rules. It wasn’t super strict but we figured it was a good start. It was a FUN weekend after all!
Day 1: Withdrawal was challenging. It feels like the habit of checking the phone is so ingrained. The first day I kept reaching for it and wanting to check it. We decided we would use it to research addresses and restaurants but I found that whenever it was on I would check my texts and try to answer anything I could. We kept busting each other checking our text messages in a fun and playful way.
Day 2 we rented a boat and cruised around. It was so lovely and I didn’t feel the need to be so attached to the phone anymore. And it felt really nice to be around each other in silence. I felt less anxious and more calm and relaxed. Is it imagined, or did it feel like we were interacting to strangers more?
By day 3, we were in the groove. We went on a beautiful hike and drove around the island. Our conversations flowed so naturally and it felt great to be present in each others company. To be heard without having to compete/ be interrupted by the cell phone. How comfortable it was to sit in silence and read.
I came back away from the weekend feeling recharged and refreshed. It had been an absolutely amazing time away and I felt so grateful for the experience.
We both decided to do a digital detox more often. Perhaps next time we will do our research ahead of time and not even watch anything on the computer. Baby steps! I had the embarrassing incidence of trying to make a restaurant booking and somehow missed the call and lost the reservation. That was the only bad thing about this experiment.
If you’d like to do a digital detox here are my recommendations:
- Do it somewhere in nature.
- Ease into it – it doesn’t have to be extreme.
- Establish ground rules if you are going with a friend or your partner.
- Put a vacation responder on your email, and record a message on your voice messaging system.
- Journal and observe your reactions.
Why do it?
- If you are experiencing negative emotional responses to technology such as depression and anxiety. It could possibly come from your comparisons to others.
- If you are noticing addictive tendencies to checking technology all the time. Have you heard of Internet addiction disorder? “It’s said that around 59% of smartphone users check their account 5 minutes prior to going to bed and within 30 minutes post waking up. “
- Constant engagement can lead to increased stress and decreased productivity.
- If you are craving an increased feeling of peacefulness.
- It’s an opportunity to think more creatively. It can help you create space for the mind – to daydream and brainstorm about ideas, or think about nothing.
- It’s an opportunity to increase connection (eye contact) with those around you. There is an increased likelihood of starting a conversation with a stranger. After all your presence is the greatest gift.
Have you ever tried a Digital Detox? What’s the biggest takeaway for you?