Digital Detox – Embrace nature, be present, breathe in the fresh air and tune in.

Digital Detox – Embrace nature, be present, breathe in the fresh air and tune in.

Six bikes… Five days… four nights… three great friends… two flights… one boat – and much laughter, amazing adventures enjoyed, and many fantastic memories made. 

In the last few years there’s been a host of press about the ‘digital detox’ – meaning a period of time during which a person refrains from using electrical devices such as smartphones, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world’. Spanning ‘Digital Minimalism’ books that advocate a 30-day plan to take your life back, the introduction of voice recognition and virtual assistants that have been reported to discretely push technology into the background of our lives, to some tech platforms and their bosses acknowledging the potential negative impact of tech on mental well-being – to the point that some have built in features to track over use – I’d say it’s a good time to experiment with what taking a digital detox means for you.  

So, in a world that’s ‘always on’, there’s never been a better time to switch off your WiFi, switch to ‘airplane mode’, or simply to switch your phone and other digital devices ‘off’ completely, and be present with where you are, the environment you are in, the people you are with, and to bathe in nature. For me, this meant meeting up with some cycling friends and exploring the Channel Islands.

Guernsey 2019

Going native in the Channel Islands

I’ve travelled fairly extensively over the past 27 years or so, but nothing prepared me for the stunning beauty of the Channel Islands. Not only it is extremely accessible and easy to get to from the UK, a 50-minute flight from Gatwick to be precise, once you get there everything is on your doorstep. From WWII history of Nazi capture, and tunnels and battlements to protect the coastline, to great places to eat locally caught crabs, moules and other seafood, stunning coastal paths to roam, white sandy beaches to walk on, azure seas to swim in – the islander community has a lot to offer people of all ages. 

For me it was real solitude peace and quiet; proper dark nights where you see the stars glow and shine; rosy red sunsets that light up the sky and go on for ever; and the opportunity to spend some quality time with some great friends as they showed me around their native Island of Guernsey and surrounds. 

In five days and four nights we truly packed in some epic adventures, giggle fuelled fun and relaxing down time from work – this included climbing down the 200 plus steps to swim in St. Martin’s Bay in Guernsey before dining on scallops for dinner; mountain biking around Alderney, stopping to explore Fort Clonque and several other battlements, the light house and other sights en route before sleeping on the boat moored to a buoy in Braye harbour (that was slightly wobbly); mountain biking around Sark having scooted the bikes to shore on the dingy; cycling on our road bikes in France having moored the boat in Guilette to pedal around Lower Normandy and through a gorgeous town called Bricquebec; then boating back to Guernsey via Herm, a tiny yet beautiful island that we walked around whilst eating ice-cream and admiring the sandy, shell covered beaches. Whilst on the open water, with the waves and swell swirling up around, you truly get a feel for how tiny we are in the world, it sets a new perspective. 

Creating communities through cycling and sport 

At its core, cycling, a keen interest in adventures by bike (and now boat), and a love of nature, it what formed the foundation of my friendship with Jo and Dan. In the past few years we’ve been on four cycling trips together – we’ve pedalled through the French Alps from Gevena to Nice on the Raid Alpine, ridden the Classic Cols of Gran Canaria, cycled up and down Mont Ventoux a couple of times and around the Verdon Gorge in Provence, and enjoyed the 6 ways in 6 days Tenerife Teide Challenge – all with Marmot Tours. This summer we thought we would mix it up a little, introducing boats, walking and swimming with mountain and road bikes. 

Delight in a digital detox and tune in with nature 

Our world, and our lives – personal, work and social – are increasingly busy and demanding.  In that world, we are constantly ‘on-demand’ by bosses, colleagues, partners, children, family, and often times, if we are not ‘on-demand’ ourselves, we want someone else, or something else (think Netflix, on-demand T.V.) to be ‘on-demand’ for us.  There is rarely a time when our phones and other digital devices are out of reach, as they buzz with notifications to grab our attention. 

Sometimes I feel guilty for wanting to take a ‘digital detox’ to ‘tune in’ – notice I’m saying ‘tune-in not tune-out’ – to what’s really going on around me.  To be present with the environment I’m in and the people I am with, so I enjoy every moment, remaining curious and consciously engrossed in captivating conversation. For me tuning in and being in nature is restorative, it enlightens my spirit and is a must have in my life, as is spending quality time with family and friends – they are all fuel for a happier, healthier, motivated mindset. 

When was the last time you gave yourself the opportunity to tune in and delight in a digital detox? 

What are the long-term effects of social media on society? The good, the bad, and the ugly…

What are the long-term effects of social media on society? The good, the bad, and the ugly…

Technology and social media have become an integral part of society over the last decade. No longer a pastime of millennial’s – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Strava and others, are social media channels utilised by all ages and demographics. As a lady who values her private time and family life, back in the day, I was a bit hesitant about social media and whether it would really be ‘for me’. However, when Facebook and Twitter came to market I was intrigued… not only from a person perspective, but I also wanted to understand how these channels could be utilised for business. 

The good – Social connection

There are many things I love about social media – keeping in touch with friends and family who have moved away, sharing moments and memories with wider groups of friends or colleagues, being able to share opinions far and wide, being able to connect and engage with the world at large (news, business, sport), and of course being able to converse with people in multiple countries in real-time. For an enquiring mind, social media is not only amplification tool, but it has opened up a gateway of information to educate and learn. So what’s not to like?

The bad – Society is not set up to be patient anymore 

Social media has driven a culture of ‘instant gratification’ and encouraged a mindset of ‘I want it now’. It’s in our human psychology to want to be liked and all social media channels are set up to play on these natural human tendencies – to facilitate that instant hit of dopamine to our brain when content you’ve shared is liked, shared and commented on. 

The ugly – Is social media ripping apart society and exploiting psychology?

It’s strange to think that some people in our society are now more obsessed with their ‘social media’ life than they are about their real one. Social media has so many positives but it’s interesting to hear the thoughts from former Facebook Execs on the need to disconnect.

Chamath Palihapitaiya, formerly the longest original member of Facebook’s Exec team, in charge of audience growth says…

  • Social media is ripping society apart
  • “People are confusing truth with popularity, what is popular is not truthful’ 
  • ‘Social media exploits our natural human tendencies to want and need feedback”
  • “Facebook is designed to drip feed dopamine, you share some content, you get some likes, some comments, you get a dopamine hit, and that leads you to share more content.”

From here a social validation feedback loop ensues. But is this fake popularity? Are we seeking validation from external sources? Is social media rewiring our brains in a negative way so we’re all set on short-term fixes? As Palihapitaiya comments, perhaps this is the reason why Steve Jobs was anti social media?

He goes on to say there’s a real danger this ‘mindset of a short-term fix’ will impact on other areas of our lives – our work life, our personal life – and it’s not healthy. In my view, it’s creating a world where, ironically, we’re less connected; where we run the risk of becoming desensitised to those around us – you know, the real people in our lives – the ones we can see face to face and truly engage with, at home, at work, and socially over a cup of tea, pint or a glass of wine. 

Digital detox – take a hard break, embrace it 

Turn it off for a week – would you be able to do this? Some people would freak at this idea as they’re physically and mentally attached to their device, and feel naked without them. Personally I love embracing a digital detox – and not just when I go on holiday. Logging off has become a daily habit – meaning no access to the internet, no access to WhatsApp, no access to social – it’s liberating. 

Reconnect offline – Make time to log off and connect’!

Become super conscious and aware

I want to live in a world that’s super conscious, connected and aware. People are not predictable and that’s one of the many beautiful things about human nature – sometimes you just can’t predict what people will do or say – there’s great pleasure and excitement in not knowing what’s coming next. I value real interactions with real people, I value presence, and I value being around people who are conscious and aware. 

  • ‘Turn it off for a week’ – didn’t it get quiet in here? It got quiet in here didn’t it!

What is the short and long-term effect of too much information? Does it serve us well or is it creating an overloaded, congested mind? After years of intense, surface, information overload, there’s a reason why a wave of people are seeking a higher level of consciousness, to be aware of their actions, and the impact of their interactions on society. 

Don’t get swamped by the downside of technological innovations in our society – embrace what serves you and remain connected to the real world.