Yes, You Really Do Need a Digital Detox
Sure, it’s easy to blame our current state of digital distress on the pandemic. Whether it was becoming one of the 4.7 million people in the U.S. who now work remotely at least half the time, virtual school for the kids, digital meet-ups, or just the need to decompress by streaming your favorite shows, we’ve undoubtedly become more reliant on our devices than ever before.
The truth is, many of us were trying to cope with our excessive digital habits and figure out the best path forward well before the COVID years. According to one study, the average adult spends 4.1 hours on their smartphones every single day. With that comes a constant barrage of messages, emails, alerts, reminders and, more so, the overwhelming expectation that we’re available all the time. Not to mention, nine out of 10 of us are reportedly using devices before bed.
While a few hearty souls may thrive at the current frenetic pace of life, most of us are not programmed to be “on” all the time. All of this connectedness is wreaking havoc on our health. We’re more stressed, less rested, and mentally exhausted than ever before. Put simply, many of us are experiencing burnout.
Our minds need a break.
The Benefits of an Unplugged Vacation
It’s no secret that time spent off-grid and away from the daily grind works wonders on our overall health and well-being.
An unplugged vacation in a remote and scenic landscape, combined with plenty of exploring and new experiences, actually gives our minds the opportunity to unwind and decompress. Granted, it can take a few days outside in nature to reach a point of total rejuvenation (researchers have coined it the three-day effect), but this kind of digital detox can have lasting impacts when we’re back in the real world.
The hardest part is convincing ourselves to go in the first place.
After all, it can feel impossible to disappear and disconnect for a day, let alone a few days. There are schedules, deadlines, overflowing inboxes and so many other people’s needs to account for. There’s no way we can possibly walk away from all of that. Or at least that’s the narrative so many of us keep telling ourselves.
But as a busy working mama who occasionally gets to sneak away on a multi-day river trip or backpacking trip to recapture my sanity, trust me on this one, it’s easier to leave it all behind than we think. Even better? As soon as we power down our devices, our mental load magically lightens. From that point forward, the only to-do is to be in the present moment and enjoy the freedom of being disconnected and untethered for a few days.
So, go ahead and say yes to an unplugged vacation. Make your wellbeing a priority. Disappear into the wild and sleep under the stars as a river lulls you to sleep. Your mind, body and soul will thank you.
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Photos: Dylan Silver; Rob Aseltine