This Wellness Week we urged SpaFinder fans to take the pledge to give themselves the gift of silence and to connect with nature. One of the easiest ways to connect with the world around us, and to embrace moments of self-reflection, is to take a digital detox. Un-plug from social media, don’t worry about news feeds or retweeting and revel in what’s going on in real time around you. In order to get a better grasp on digital detoxing, we reached out to Carl Honoré, author of In Praise of Slowness: How A Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed, and Slow Movement advocate.
“[The Slow Movement] is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better,” explains Honoré. “The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace; it’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed, savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them.” The movement is about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.
Taking a break from the computer, smartphones, Facebook, Twitter and the like, while seemingly impossible, is incredibly important. “It allows us to relax and recharge, to think deeply and without distraction,” he says. Honoré also explains that un-plugging helps us to be more in the moment. When we aren’t so concerned with posting what we’re doing on Twitter, we are better able to enjoy the experience.
We asked Honoré for three simple ways to incorporate a digital detox into our everyday lives, whether it be for a few hours or for a week at a time:
- “Set aside some time every day when you switch off all gadgets. No exceptions and no backsliding.”
- “To neutralize the anxiety we feel about switching off, tell your friends and colleagues that you will not be available 24 hours a day so they can work around your new tech schedule.”
- “Build some slow, tech-free activity into your day. Something like yoga, meditation, gardening, reading, cooking, whatever takes your fancy.”
The importance of turning off, even for just a few hours a day is invaluable. Honoré explains that “even high-tech companies are sending that same message, [like] Hewlett-Packard, with its warning that the constant electronic interruptions cause our IQ to fall 10 points, twice the effect of smoking marijuana.”
“Being always connected takes a heavy toll,” warns Honoré. “It eats into our private time. It keeps us distracted so that we think less [clearly]and it tires us out.” When we stay plugged in for too long, technology,which was originally designed to bring us together, ends up driving us apart, he says. “We become unable to give our full attention to the people we are actually with in the real world.”
I, personally, know that I can’t count the number of times I’ve felt the need to check my Facebook at dinner knowing that it’s encroaching on my special time with friends and family. “If we use the Net intelligently, it can enrich our lives with information and social connections, [but] if you become addicted to it, it can overwhelm [us].”
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