Digital Detox: Take a Break on Vacation
I’m not sure any one of us may be able to look back now and wonder when it started. One thing is for sure though, we are all tethered by technology in one way or another. For some of us it may just be the occasional glance at a phone to check and see if a loved one needs us, or a simple log on to Facebook to see what the latest updates are, or maybe it is just a small peek at work email to make sure the boss didn’t need anything for that last minute presentation he’s giving. According to a Mobile Mindset study, conducted by security app Lookout, 58 percent of U.S. smartphone owners check their phones at least once every hour — even while they sit on the toilet.
I used to believe that it was only high level executives or big time lawyers and doctors that were always worried about making sure they were available… just in case. But as I have learned more about human behavior and how we interact with technology over the past several years, I can tell you that we are all (in one way or another) finding ourselves distracted by cell phones, emails, pagers and text messages every single day. I bet you don’t even think it’s overwhelming. Well, the non-profit Anxiety U.K. recently released a study suggesting that social media and internet usage does, in fact, stress us out. However, at this point, you’re probably quite used to it and in turn you may even tell yourself that, “It’s just part of the way we do business now” or “It’s how life is in 2014.”
I’m here to tell you… YOU’RE RIGHT! It absolutely is the inevitability we live with now that nearly all of us need to be connected to each other in one way or another. The problem is trying to find the time to say that enough is enough and for you to ignore that feeling of guilt for not being responsive, not being available, or feeling that FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and to put the technology away.
So when should we really, truly, give up on technology and take a break? Enter your digital detox time… VACATION!
With technology always at our fingertips, it’s easy for most of us to check in when we’re supposed to be checked out. Unfortunately, staying connected during our vacation time prevents us from truly enjoying the benefits of time away from the office, including feeling more relaxed and rejuvenated. Yet, about two in five Americans work more than three hours a day while on vacation, according to a recent study by the Families and Work Institute. According to another study done for an online travel magazine, e-mail in particular needs to be ditched on holidays because it creates two types of stress: the stress of being mentally interrupted and having to switch tasks, and the stress of constantly having to work. You may not think of e-mail as work, but when it’s related to your job, reading and writing replies means that you’re solving work-related problems— hence, it’s the last thing you should be doing on vacation.
So how do you do it? Trust me, it’s hard. However, from a health standpoint, those that do fully disconnect from work while on vacation experience a substantial drop in stress levels. Granted, if you work at a supportive company like I do, it can be a little easier. Once you set that out of office, and warn your coworkers that you’ll be on vacation, most of the emails and text messages are minimized. But the real challenge — the hard work — in being stress-free and relaxed on vacation is finding the time to do a digital detox… and that is 100% up to you. You have to want it because God knows you need it.
Personally, I find it easier when I pick a vacation spot that naturally doesn’t have WiFi or cellular coverage. Although it is difficult to find those places, I have a couple that I tend to frequent on my vacations. For me, it’s camping. I recently learned that not only can I escape from the digital world in the mountains, but I get the opportunity to reset my internal clock as well. Yup. It’s amazing what can be accomplished with one week of camping. Truly stress free for me. And you know what? Surprisingly enough, all that work that needed to be done while I was gone, was still there waiting for me when I returned. I didn’t miss a thing.
So there it is. My challenge to you during this Summer break and future vacations with your families and friends is to do your best to do a digital detox and leave the work behind. Because let’s face it, if you fail and don’t do it, you’ll be more stressed when you return to work, and that’s not good for anyone.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!