Digital Detox - is being connected to everything actually disconnecting for ourselves?
It’s been well over a month now since I signed off of social media for my “digital detox week”, and I promised you all that I would share my learnings from the experience. Well, first of I was off for a bit longer than a week and that’s largely due to some personal learnings that came out of the time away. I was away on a life-changing retreat and whilst I did anticipate changes and benefits, the things I learned were far more profound than I ever imagined...
You see, during my week away, I was not only off social media and online work, but also in fact out of contact with everyone (my husband had a contact number lest I should be needed, don't panic!) It was hard not to speak to anyone, particularly my children, during that time, but I had made a decision to do it and trusted in the process. You know what they say...
"If you want things to be different... you have to make a change..."
So what did I learn?
I learned that it's very easy to become disconnected from myself when I am so busy with my daily life and being so "connected" to so many things. Does that resonate with you too? For anyone else that grew up in the 1980’s or before, you’ll be well aware of how life was before smartphones, or even mobile phones at all - I got my first “mobile” when I was 17, a gift from my Dad in case I broke down driving and needed help. It was enormous and most definitely didn’t fit in a small handbag let alone my back pocket!
When was the last time you stopped to think about what a huge difference this invention made to our lives? Most definitely there are advantages – moving to the remote north of Sweden doesn’t make communication with my parents and family and friends all over the world very easy, but smart phone can bridge that gap. The internet also allows me to deliver this to you, to work with my clients one on one online. But if we are not careful, this technology at our fingertips is with us constantly, and with that comes a cost.
You see, without it, you have time to sit with yourself and think, really think about your life and your path. What you really want, or don’t want. What it is that your heart and your gut are telling you. Many things get in the way of that time – work, family, the stresses and strains of life, things that we simply cannot switch off from. However it’s easy to disregard the sheer amount of time we spend surfing the internet, scrolling scrolling scrolling social media (or making it – reels, videos, info-graphics). All these things focus our attention on other things rather than what we are really doing with our lives, what we are valuing, what we are working towards, what is giving us energy and what is taking it away.
I learned that when you take time out you have the space to rest, to sleep well, to eat well. Things I often talk about, but haven't prioritised for the longest time, at least not to this extent. I was in nature, walking, swimming, sitting beside the sea, breathing in the fresh air and just being present with it and with myself. It was refreshing to start with, a simple respite from it all.
And then it became less comfortable. Looking within, with no distractions, no escape, just me, myself and I, having a good long conversation, something that hasn’t had a chance to happen in a long time. There is always something else to pick up, to watch, to read, to do, and so that's what we do, or at least I did. It's so easy with the connectivity of today. Did I know subconsciously as well that there were hard things that I didn’t want to face? So filled my time with other things instead? Possibly that too. It's never been easier to be "busy".
Our bodies are incredible and can tell us a lot about what we need not just physically but also emotionally and this week away from it all finally gave me the time to listen to mine. Our bodies speak to us but they also endure. They shout louder and louder, but often by the time we hear them over the background noise of our busy and connected lives, it has reached a critical point - a burn-out, a health or other crisis. I learned to take the time to listen to mine, something I hope never to forget or neglect again.
So in summary of what I learned, it’s this:
Take time to stop and listen to your body, your heart, your gut. Nothing will ever get to a point where it is as critical as your health can be if you don’t take the time and make the space to look inwards and listen.
For me, switching off was the missing piece in my life between surviving and really thriving right now, and I cannot wait to share even more of this with you all.
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