Every year I have a digital free holiday. Let me explain what I mean. A few years ago I turned off my phone and travelled around Myanmar (Burma) for three weeks. There was no point in taking my phone with me as there is very little phone or wifi access. Scary, yet liberating at the same time.
Another time I went on a yoga retreat and decided to use the opportunity do a digital detox. Surprisingly, not only was I the only one who turned all of my devices off, I was the only one who thought to do it. Even the teacher openly used her phone.
Addicted to digital
Over 60% of people admit to being addicted to the internet and their devices. I really think it's worth asking the question...would I find it difficult to not take my phone with me on holidays, to grab a coffee, to go for a walk, to go to bed, to...?
I check my email first thing and last thing in the day - as I do with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And like most professionals, I spend up to 10 hours a day online.
Our constant need for new stimulation, endless access to information and social connection is changing our brains. It's impacting our long-term memory as well as our wellbeing.
At times I wonder if our addiction to digital is making us lead lives that are a centimetre deep, and a kilometre wide.
What I missed
I crave time away from being connected and constantly available. I find it hard to do at home, but when I'm away and set my intention I find it easy. I love taking photos of the sunset and sunrise, and at the retreat I couldn't take photos of them and share them. So instead, I simply watched them and enjoyed the moment.
Turning back time
We have seen noticeable resurgence in creating traditional crafts in the past few years and I think it's a reaction to how virtual our lives have become. Maybe think about how you can incorporate a form of 'slowing down' into your life.
For me, I spend hours at a time sitting on my lounge room floor surrounded by leaves, twigs and vines, weaving sculptures. A practice I found after searching for more creativity and less computers in my life.
Do nothing. Be bored.
An amazing thing happens when you are not constantly digitally stimulated. Your mind quiets down.
When was the last time you experienced that?
Be brave, and feel the sensation of being bored. Don't pick up the phone. Just daydream instead. Even try meditation.
The internet is a significant part of my life. Without it I wouldn't have a business. For me, it's not going away, and I don't want it to go away! But in addition to having a digital free holiday a year, I am working on creating digital free rituals at home. It's a work in progress.
About the author
Catriona Pollard is the author of From Unknown To Expert, a step by step framework designed to help entrepreneurs develop effective PR and social media strategies to become recognised as influencers in their field. www.unknowntoexpert.com
Catriona is also the director of CP Communications, which merges traditional PR tactics with cutting-edge social media strategies that engage consumers as well as business. www.cpcommunications.com.au