I just returned from leading a self-renewal retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health on the east coast for an amazing group of women from all over North America. I was away from the office for a total of five days … unplugged. No computer, no email, no Facebook, just minimal texting to support retreat logistics with my team. I made this choice consciously (I used to leave my laptop at home when I led retreats, but had slid into the habit lately of bringing it with me to work on the plane). Wow, am I glad I did. I was amazed–once again– at the wide range of positive effects I experienced from being unplugged from technology for a few days:
• My body was more relaxed, my shoulders felt open, my heart rate slowed, and I didn’t feel that constant adrenaline surge. (Read why Slower is Better.)
• My thinking quieted down. I was more mindful. There were more pauses between thoughts, I experienced more spaciousness, and I was more reflective, observant and in touch with my intuition.
• I was more present and less reactive in my relationships; I was a better facilitator, leader, friend and things that didn’t go my way were molehills instead of mountains.
•My ability to trust what was needed in the moment, problem-solve and change course at a moment’s notice was stronger and more evident.
• I was much more creative and open to trying new things while working with my group (in a new space, too!).
• I felt my perspective on life, work, and family expand and soften and could see with ease what mattered most and what was non-essential.
• My tolerance for everyday stress went way down and I released some of my old habitual behaviors — such as trying to be as efficient and productive as possible.
I’m reading more research about the power of digital detoxes and how being unplugged dramatically effects our creative and problem-solving abilities. This July I’ll be going off the grid and heading to the Blue Ridge Mountains/Asheville, NC with my 12 year-old for a month. Our agenda: roam barefoot as much as possible, pick and eat berries off the vine, hike lush trails, enjoy heartfelt connections with my brother’s family, read and allow our days to lead us and slowly unfold. I’m curious to see what awaits us.
When was your last digital detox? Maybe it’s time to pull the cord and tune inward. You might be surprised what’s waiting for you. Want more? Read 5 Days Unplugged=Whole New Perspective and pick up a copy of Nurturing the Soul of Your Family and read a whole chapter dedicated to helping you unplug so you can begin to put people first and technology second.
INVITE: Ready to embrace a new way of being this summer? Check out my affordable, transformative self-paced life balance telecourses, including my new live offering launching Sept. 4: Permission Granted: The Art of Extreme Self-Care.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by work-life balance/mindfulness teacher/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-care groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 12 year-old son. More on her background here.
Photo: This little guy was my dinner companion on Sunday afternoon. Another gift that comes from unplugging is slowing down enough to take in our natural environment in all its beauty.