We have all forgotten how to rest – properly.
A big reason for this is that we are online, all the time. We are constantly bombarded with information, and our brains and nervous systems never get a chance to really switch off. Which leads to higher levels of stress, burn-out and general unease and even disease.
So it is hugely beneficial to go offline for periods of time, not just for yourself, but for your business and job as well. Let alone for the quality of your connections.
And what better time to do this than during your holiday?
I have been experimenting with this for a few years now and have found how beneficial it is for me to really go offline for a period of time each year. To properly recharge, get back in touch with my internal world on a much deeper level, and simply connect to what is happening in front of me. To become more intimate with my direct surroundings again, to have tiiiime for things to unfold at their natural pace (hello creativity) and simply slow the fuck down. It is magical. I come out the other end reborn.
I know how hard it can be to really switch off so I have gathered some of the ways that have worked for me:
1. Read up on the data
This Harvard Business Review article states that resilience – the capacity to bounce back, to recover – is about how you recharge, not about how you endure.
It states that the very lack of a recovery period is dramatically holding back our collective ability to be resilient and successful. Research has found that there is a direct correlationbetween lack of recovery and increased incidence of health and safety problems.
It really helped me to have some of that data available to make meaning of my experience, and to make it easier to switch my phone and laptop off, because I now know how vitally important this is.
2. Take a social media fast
I am getting right in there with the hardest – and also the easiest – one. You see, you can not help that you are addicted to your phone. The whole thing is designed to keep you addicted, creating constant dopamine hits with notifications and information. So the only thing that has worked for me is to treat is as an addiction and go cold turkey.
For a few years now I go on a social media fast for 3 to 4 weeks during my holidays in summer. In the beginning (the first few days) it is very unpleasant, like any other detox. I reach for my phone many times a day and then I remember. I start noticing how often I reach out to distract myself from uncomfortability (quite sobering to notice). And I sit with that. I practise being present to what is happening right in front of me; the people, nature, whatever is happening.
And then, magically, after a few days I start thinking “why was Facebook so riveting? It is mostly ads and random videos with the occasional inspiring post from a friend. What was the pull again?” And then a few days later it actually becomes weird to me to imagine staring at a phone when I am such a beautiful location. I kid you not.
When I come home and yes, I am curious what has happened online, I have a proper sit down and look at all the posts in one go. And then I usually notice I have not missed that much.
What I have gainedis amazing connected experiences that have fed me and will stay with me for the rest of my life. And rest, on a much deeper level. Also, the effect of the fast tends to linger. What I usually do afterwards is limit my use to half an hour a day, so as to not go straight back into addiction. Just notice how efficient you become on Facebook when you have a deadline! And how much time you save really.
3. Choose a holiday you love with people you love
In other words: make sure your real life is much more exciting than whatever happens online. This might sound simple, but it might not be. It takes awareness to create the break you really need. Often we tend to go along with things, but what do youwant and what do youneed? So go do that. And your phone will become much less interesting. I promise you. It might take some honouring of your needs and boundaries, and stepping up for what you want, to make this happen.
4. Let go of the news
There is so much happening every day, at any given time, and we have resources that continuously provide us with usually not very happy news. Let it go for a few weeks. The world will be there when you get back. Let your nervous system relax into not having to process information all the fucking time, and just chill. You will find yourself relaxing on a much deeper level.
5. Acknowledge that it takes time to wind down
When you stop the online barrage of information, know that it takes time (usually a few days) to unwind from all that data and relax into a slower, less filled, space. Our bodies need to detox from the cortisol and dopamine and that process feels uncomfortable. It hugely helps me to know that, during the first days of my holiday, where I tend to run around a bit like a headless chicken, still on the tempo I was on before. And then I run out of steam, often have a huge cry and all of a sudden ‘drop in’ to a whole other layer of existence. I find myself thinking “how did I forget this was there?”
6. Have buddies to do this with
In other words: have a support system while you are bravely conquering the offline world. I am totally going to force my boyfriend to do this with me this holiday (he reads this so he is forewarned 😉 It helps a lot when your direct environment is not constantly on their phones while you are trying so hard not to be on yours. Also, it is more fun. I promise you, amazing things will happen. You get to tap into different parts of your brains together, play, and just enjoy each other without distraction. Last summer I spent hours in a gorgeous French lake floating on a big tree that we found there, dancing in a thunder storm, having endless conversations over and after dinner, drawing again after many years and just staring at all the goodness around me.
So have fun. Enjoy. And I hope these tips help you remember that our phones are, after all, just handy tools. Nothing more really.
Have a great summer.
PS: As you read this I am on holiday myself. And true to my words, I am offline for 3,5 weeks. I will be back August 26th to answer any questions you might have and respond to emails.