Today marks my first day back in the office after five days unplugged (no computer use, email, TV/movies and only minimal phone use). I took off Thursday morning through Monday night–essentially only 3 work days–and spent the time working in my garden, writing, swimming, doing creative visioning for my business, walking barefoot outdoors, cooking a lot and tending to my life.
Last month I noticed my mind had become very busy. I had no room for “free range” thinking and I was feeling grumpy and irritable towards my family and team. One day, I almost threw my laptop against the wall; clearly, I was done!
I’ve taken (and written about) many digital detoxes over the years. Sometimes they were just a day, sometimes a whole summer in order to finish a book. But this time was different. The sense of urgency that preceded this “off the grid” period, was palpable. My mind didn’t just need to re-boot–my body and soul did too. I think this is reflective of the times we’re living in–things are simply moving too fast and we weren’t designed to operate at this pace. We’re human beings, not human doings.
After the first 48 hours of being off my laptop and email (my nemesis), I:
-became more playful, spontaneous, relaxed (according to my son) and my husband said I was more “sexy and fun to be around!”
-was reminded how quickly I renew when I spend time in the natural world (I have fire ant bites on my feet to show for all my time in the dirt!)
-was more attuned and plugged into life: everything looked more vibrant and colorful, all my senses were awake (I cooked some amazing meals using local veggies/fruit)
-slept better, was able to tune into and appreciate my body more easily and I was reminded of all the things that bring me pleasure
This short digital detox showed me I can’t continue at the pace I had been (and as many of you know–I “do it different,” and take pretty good care of myself). I am at a life stage where I need expanses of unscheduled time to dream, process, integrate and explore what’s next for me. And this definitely can’t happen when you’ve got 400 emails a day calling for your attention. Note to close friends: call me at home on my land line, you’ve got my number!
As a mindfulness evangelist, “light tech” user and late adopter of all things electronic by choice, I’ve got some new ideas for how I want to shift my relationship to technology. But more than anything I want to lock in the memory of how radically different I felt during the past five days. It wasn’t just about a mental respite–this time helped me remember who I really am.
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Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance speaker/coach and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Offering custom self-renewal workshops/retreats, training, books/telecourses and individual career coaching her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining Personal Renewal 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 13 year-old son. More on her background here.