(image by Kolenko)
I was packing my bags (at the last minute) before heading home for the holiday and some much needed family time. I was just about to throw my laptop in my bag so I could do some writing, emailing and editing during my time off. Then I had a thought: what’s the worst that would happen if I just…didn’t?
So I unpacked my laptop, hopped in the car and headed towards good times.
Once I was on the train, I realized I didn’t even feel the slightest bit of regret. I love traveling by train, alone or in good company. I spent the entire train ride catching up with my dad and sister, laughing (mainly at my dad’s jokes) and people watching (which only provided more jokes). And once we arrived, I knew I wanted to take things a step farther. So I decided to go cold turkey, and spend some time away from the blog world, social media and email.
I took all of my favorite social media apps and moved them on my phone so that they were out of sight and out of mind. I turned off all notifications, and stopped incoming mail from hitting my inbox. I wanted this to be a clean break. I wanted to be fully present with my loved ones, in every moment. Not half at the table, half in the tweets.
So, what happened?
The first day, I noticed the difference. I woke up and felt off when I was sipping my morning coffee at the table with my dad and didn’t have a Twitter or Instagram feed to scroll through as I sipped. We are so connected to technology that even our most basic rituals are consumed with it: morning coffee, waking up, and the smallest things. I honestly didn’t think I’d finish out, but made a conscious intention to do what I set out to, and finish what I started.
By the end of the day, it was a completely different story. I left my phone in far off corners of the house and forgot about it for hours. I wanted to be farther and farther from the thing I was leaving behind. By the second day, I was reveling in the vacation.
The social sphere has become such a integral part of our lives that most of us don’t remember a time with out it. It helps us run our businesses, connected with our loved ones and stay in the know. It helps to alleviate our fears of missing out. But guess what? You’re probably missing more by staying glued to a screen that you ever would by stepping back and taking a break.
Relaxing is something that I often struggle with. I always feel like I can be doing. Yesterday, I tried to take a thirty minute nap and it quickly turned into 15 minutes of tackling my inbox and 10 minutes of laying really still on my bed with the lights off. That, my friends, is not healthy.
Disconnecting is healthy. Turning off the notifications every once in a while is a way of saying no, and putting your needs first.
When my break was over, I honestly forgot that I was on one until someone sat net to me and checked their own Instagram feed. Oh, I guess I could do that know… But the desire wasn’t there. I could have kept going, and stayed away longer. And I definitely had to brace myself when I turned email back on and was smacked in the face with an unread number too outrageous to repeat.
Guard you time fiercely. Be generous with it, but be intentional about it. – David Duchemin
I didn’t take this break to prove a point, to myself or anyone else. I wasn’t trying to make a statement about the hyper-connectedness and false senses of “being here” plaguing society. I did it because I felt that my time wasn’t my own –it was divide among different networks, all which had the power to interrupt one another and cause distraction. I wanted to take the reigns, and be in control of how and why my time was being used.
I’m back on now, the notifications are back and the updates are rolling. I’ll definitely be taking social vacations more frequently, but I’m glad to be a part of such a dynamic community. You guys are always worth coming back to.