In this modern age, being connected 24/7 has become a necessity. Most of us must have our gadgets at all times to survive. We need them to check on work, to communicate with friends whom we won’t be able to talk to otherwise, and finally, we need them to entertain ourselves. However, despite these compelling arguments for our constant need to check on our devices, it still sets us back immensely, both physically and emotionally.
For one, BBC says our overall mood suffers because of “an increased awareness of other people’s stress” on social media. Not to mention, ironically, there’s also the isolation and FOMO we experience in our attempt to “connect” digitally. With our constant use of our gadgets and social media, we see one thing clear: it’s definitely not helping our mental health.
Excessive usage of our digital devices negatively impacts our well-being.
To help, various organisations have popped up across the globe, hosting workshops, camps, and retreats to urge people to take a digital detox: a period of time wherein a person voluntarily refrains from using digital devices. It’s an opportunity to take a break from tech-induced stress, and instead focus on building genuine relationships with others and yourself in the real world.
One of these places is The Hideout, a luxurious and sustainable resort tucked in the islands of Ko Yao Noi, Thailand, where there is no Wi-Fi and no electricity. It offers mindfulness sessions: activities that help enhance one’s fitness and artistic senses. Anita Ritter, proprietor of The Hideout, recommends staying for a minimum of five nights to fully rejuvenate, but a night or two already does wonders as well. Anita explains that guests do not only partake of the holistic wellness activities, instead, the key takeaway is: "being one with nature.” With that, there’s no longer any digital distractions, and one can just focus on reflecting and recharging.
Realising the need to disconnect
Because technology has become an integral part of our everyday lives, it's a challenge to refrain from using it.
According to We Are Social, in 2019, 61 per cent of Southeast Asians were active on social media. That’s a whole lot of us, if you think about it, but not necessarily everyone needs to undergo a digital detox.
Everyone needs to log off every now and then, but, Anita explains, one must go on a digital detox: “as soon as they feel they can't function anymore without checking their mail or social media.” When you catch yourself staying in front of the screen for longer, perhaps it’s time to re-think your lifestyle.
The sustainable tree-top sanctuaries of The Hideout offer a refreshing change of perspective. (Photo from: hideoutkoyao.com)
Usually, we’d think it’s the professionals who need to stay connected for work are most prone to digital burnout. But in reality, everyone from different walks of life will need to disconnect every once in a while. The Hideout has welcomed guests from all ages, ranging from tweens to people in their 40s, including businessmen and housewives.
For a change, put your phones down for a few moments and try reading a book you find interesting.
The development of tech in this era led to us adjusting to a faster-paced life. "In a world that is compelling us to be, do, achieve, and sacrifice more of our precious energy, the result is too often a disconnection from our true natures. Over time, this results in frustrating cycles of poor habits, low energy, and a drain on self-esteem." Anita explains.
Overall, Fast Company reported, “the lack of constant distraction appeared to free people’s minds to contemplate more important issues in their lives.”
Thus, unplugging for an amount of time helps boost not only one’s mental well-being, but their lifestyles as a whole. It improves postures and sleep, enables people to foster deeper friendships, among others. "When we are exposed to a nurturing environment that encourages mindfulness, profound relaxation, and sincere reflection, we are able to rediscover the true strength and beauty that lives within us," Anita adds. "All it takes is a little pampering to spark our hearts open again."
Meanwhile in Indonesia, Be Kind Retreats Bali offers holistic wellness programmes for women who seek to reclaim themselves. One of its owners, who is simply called Suzanne, says: “whenever a women feels disconnected from herself, from who she is, and what her desires are, she needs a digital detox.”
The women-only retreat place offers a safe space for ladies to open up, heal, and reconnect with themselves. Their programmes, which include sessions and activities for mindful living, also requires you to go offline to wholly immerse in the experience. This way, women are effectively guided in finding themselves.
Be Kind Retreats Bali offer coaching and healing sessions, self-love workshops, and women circles to help their guests reconnect with themselves. (Photo from: bekindretreatsbali.com)
What's great about joining these programs is that you don't need to worry about anything else while undergoing your detox. Everything is pre-planned and provided, from a comfortable accommodation to healthy, delicious food. Here, you’re completely spoilt, and left to focus on yourself.
Working on the self
Pamper yourself at home by surrounding yourself with objects that relax you.
After going on a digital detox retreat, you can continue unplugging at your own pace own at home. Before you begin, first and foremost, inform your loved ones about your digital detox, so they won't be worried about you and you won't be tempted to check your phone. Then, ask yourself why you’re doing this and for how long. "Don't make it too big! For some women it can be such a big and scary thing to do a digital detox," Suzanne explains. Knowing that, start small, and go offline for a just a few hours a day. "The more you feel comfortable in your detox," Suzanne says, "the easier it will be to really do nothing and sit with your feelings and see what comes up."
Taking strolls around your neighbourhood is one easy way to keep your stresses at bay.
While it's not necessary to go to a secluded place, it definitely helps to escape to a place surrounded by nature. Go on a getaway, because according to Suzanne, “when we let go of our normal routines, we can see more clearly in which areas we need more guidance and healing."
The decision to leave your phone unopened on your desk only depends on you.
Ultimately, fully breaking away from the stresses brought about our modern living relies on yourself. These guided programs in peaceful destinations definitely help give you tools for your healing, but it won’t do if you don’t set your mind to it. For a digital detox to truly work, you must believe that there's something else worth giving your time and energy to. With patience and discipline, make a commitment to yourself. Widen your horizons, and seek to connect beyond your screen.
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