Do you habitually check the news feeds on your smartphone before falling asleep?
On awakening do you check Facebook on your phone?
Are you finding it challenging to fall asleep, and do you often awaken feeling unrested?
Do you feel stressed, and have difficulty focusing?
If you answered “yes” to any or all of the above questions, you are not alone, AND you may benefit from a digital detox.
What exactly is a digital detox? According to Wikipedia, a digital detox “refers to a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic connecting devices such as smartphones and computers.” It is recommended that you do a digital detox for 24 hours or more.
Did you know that:
- 67% of cellphone owners find themselves checking their device even when it’s not ringing or vibrating
- One out of ten Americans report depression; heavy internet users are 2.5 times more likely to be depressed
- 95% of people use some type of electronics in the hour leading up to bed, and
artificial light from screens increases alertness and suppresses the hormone melatonin by up to 22% negatively affecting sleep, performance and mood
- Unplugging for just one day can give some users mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.
The Benefits of a Digital Detox
Scientific studies and social experiments have noted the following results from digital detoxing:
- Reduced anxiety
- Improved sleep/reduced fatigue
- Increased productivity
- Increased connection with self and others leading to improved relationships
- Improved focus
- Increased creativity
- Increased energy
- Improved memory
- Increased clarity
- Enhanced health
Getting Started/How to do a Digital Detox
Frances Booth shares some valuable suggestions on how to do a digital detox. She and others recommend the following.
Create a Positive Mindset
Identify for yourself why you want to do the detox and the benefits it will provide. While thinking about each benefit, imagine how you will feel in your body when you have achieved it. For example, how will it feel to be more productive, more creative, more connected to family and friends, more relaxed. … .
Identify a 24-hour period when you want to try a digital detox. Ideally make it a weekend or a time when you aren’t working. Tell your family and friends your plans, and why you’re doing it.
Plan some time in nature, as being among trees reduces blood pressure, reduces your heart rate and increases the number of natural killer cells your body produces.
Plan some one-on-one time with your partner, a friend or your family to truly connect with them.
Ask for Support
Tell your family and friends of your plans, and why you’re doing it.
You may wish to invite a partner or friend to do the detox with you. Support is important when changing any behavior.
Notice How You feel and Express Yourself
When you start the detox, notice how your feel. It’s not unusual to be fidgety and have some withdrawal symptoms. You may find it helpful to write down your feelings. If you feel the urge to connect, take some deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Experience the feelings rather than “pushing them down”.
During the detox and after, notice what you notice and write down those feelings.
Make Digital Detoxing a Habit
The more digital detoxing you do, the easier it becomes. Try unplugging for at least 90 minutes before you go to bed each night. Go offline for 24 hours each weekend.
I love the tagline of http://digitaldetox.org/ “Disconnect to Reconnect”. Unplugging is relatively easy, yet the results are profound.
I invite you to try a digital detox. If you’ve already tried one, please share your experiences and comments below. Share this post with people you care about who could benefit.
Many of my coaching clients when they start to work with me say that they want to have more fun. They realize their lives are all about work, and they have little or no time for themselves, and to spend with others, to play and have fun. So What does fun look and feel like?
What does having fun look life for me?
- Spending time in nature by myself or with people I care about
- Engaging in physical activity; e.g. swimming, cycling, hiking, kayaking, walking on the beach or by water
- Sharing time truly connecting with others; e.g. over coffee, meals or at an event/experience
- Laughing with others I feel close to; e.g. partner, family, friends
- Creating something new that will make a difference; e.g. writing a book, article, designing a program or project
- Exploring a new place (includes travel)
- Appreciating beauty; e.g. in nature, music, art, dance …
- Living life being open to possibility.
How do I feel when I’m having fun?
- in the flow
- Present (in the moment)
- Truly alive!
How does having fun relate to my top 5 core values? (For more details on values see http://creativelivingcommunity.com/do-you-live-in-alignment-with-your-core-values/). Very well indeed! My top 5 core values are:
- Making a difference
- Love of learning
I invite you to ask yourself the following 3 questions and to share your responses and thoughts below:
- What does having fun look life for you?
- How do you feel when you’re having fun?
- How does having fun relate to your top 5 core values?
Here’s to having more fun in our lives!
In a previous post I shared the attributes of a Balanced and Mindful Leader, one being “Understands the importance of work/life balance and models it for others http://creativelivingcommunity.com/balanced-and-mindful-leadership-what-do-you-think/. So how can you integrate work-life balance into your own life and model it for others in the workplace?
Here are some suggestions:
- Count up the number of hours you typically work in a week. Is it more than 50? (Obviously sometimes)
- Make a commitment to reduce the number of hours you typically work weekly (choose a realistic number to begin with)
- Experiment with a work week when you reduce your hours. Then notice how you feel. You may wish to journal about it.
- Begin incorporating mindfulness practices into your personal life; e.g.
- on awakening while lying in bed do a body scan from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet noticing any tension, discomfort, heaviness. Breathe into those areas of tension, discomfort or heaviness and set the intention to release and let go of them.
- Start doing mindfulness walking meditations 3 times/week for 30 minutes each time.  Some of my clients do this at lunch hour. Others after work. Notice how you feel before, during and after. Is there a cumulative effect?
- Unplug at least 90 minutes before retiring and encourage your colleagues to do the same.
- At work, encourage people to take breaks
- Set clear expectations with your direct reports and colleagues related to NOT checking emails and answering texts on evenings and weekends. Share with them the importance of them taking time for themselves and their families
- Have short meetings (up to 60 minutes max) with clearly defined agendas, and expectations so people know why they’re there, how to prepare and the expected results.
- Encourage people to take lunch breaks
- Support people to take regular vacations and to NOT check their emails while on vacation (set up a buddy system so staff and managers can feel that the key aspects of their positions are being covered while they are away)
- Have yoga classes and/or a gym on site and participate in the classes/use the facilities yourself.
What two actions will you begin integrating into your life tomorrow? Please share those actions and any related comments below. Feel free to share this post with a friend, colleague or family member.
 A tool from Easter psychology that I have found extremely useful for getting “out of my head” and into my body is Mindfulness Walking Meditation. Mindfulness practices focus on the senses and feeling sensations and emotions in our bodies. When we do a mindfulness walking meditation we feel the ground beneath our feet, we feel the breeze against our face, we feel the cool air going from our nostrils down into our lungs. We smell the scent of salt or the aroma of lavender in the air and observe the scenery in front of us. We try to stay out of our minds and experience our senses. Rather than spend a walk in nature constantly thinking and processing all the things we have to do, instead we stay present and experience nature and all of its beautiful sights, smells, sounds and sensations.
I believe it’s time for a new type of leader, and a new type of organizational culture; one that focuses on people, understanding, and collaboration; instead of money, results, and competition. … This is the first in a series of blog posts on balanced and mindful leadership.
In my coaching with business and professional women from around the world, greater and greater numbers, and younger and younger women are coming to me exhausted, “juggling so many balls”, feeling that there is no longer any fun in their lives; they are all about work with little or no time for themselves, or to spend with people they love. Some of them have health concerns. They are looking for tools and support to help them find peace amongst the chaos of daily life and work.
Well-educated professional women are leaving their senior positions or turning down career advancements when they have children, as there is not enough time to do it all. Those who try to do it all, often become ill or end up in separation and divorce.
The old paradigm of working harder to get ahead is no longer working. In fact, productivity starts to decline after a certain number of hours of consistent work. It’s time for a new paradigm and new type of leader: a balanced and mindful one.
What are the attributes of a balanced and mindful leader?
- Lives life in alignment with their core values
- Runs an organization or operates within an organization in alignment with the organizational values
- Knows their BIG WHY (life purpose)
- Understands the importance of Work/Life Balance and models that for others
- Rewards teams rather than individuals for their performance
- Models and rewards inter and intra-organizational collaboration
- Recognizes the need for space to encourage creativity and innovation
- Uses their body as well as their minds to make decisions; e.g. Leadership is an art as well as a science.
- Inspires and supports others to be the best they can be
- Is emotionally intelligent and aware of their strengths and weaknesses
- Surrounds self with folks with complementary skill-sets to shore up their weaknesses and complement their strengths, rather than people like themselves.
- Encourages brainstorming and questioning of the status quo.
- Allows their managers and staff to make mistakes, share and learn from them; encourages a culture of innovation – e.g. Engineers without Borders Annual Failure report – http://reports.ewb.ca/
Do you agree with the need for a new type of leader? What are your thoughts? I welcome your comments below. Feel free to share the post with others who you think might like to join in the discussion.
February is known as the month of love. During this time, many of us think of our primary relationships, of romance and of Valentine’s Day. What I know to be true is that we need to truly love ourselves before we can cultivate deep and satisfying relationships with others.
Many of us have been socialized from a young age to always give to others before ourselves. We may feel guilty if we take time for ourselves; such as having lunch with a friend, or to nurture ourselves; such as having a massage.
What happens if we constantly give to others without giving to ourselves? We may become resentful. For example, if we’re always giving to a friend, and when we ask for help, she doesn’t have time for us. We often become less tolerant and our patience wears thin so we react to our partners, children and co-workers in a reactive manner, rather than mindfully and sensitively. Over time we become exhausted. Do you relate? We all need and deserve some time for ourselves and to care for ourselves.
What activities do you regularly integrate into your life to nurture yourself?
For me doing yoga three to four times a week is extremely important. Meditating daily is also a way for me to ground and relax. Bubble baths with lavender bath salts is a self-care strategy of choice. For you, regular massages with a trusted practitioner may be your top nurturing behavior.
Make a list of the things you do already to nurture yourself. Add to the list other things you would like to begin doing. Cheryl Richardson’s best-selling book The Art of Extreme Self Care is a great resource that offers 12 strategies to transform your life one month at a time. Get into action by putting your self-care strategies in your calendar (e.g. yoga classes), and by scheduling appointments with your favorite massage therapist, or lunch with a dear friend.
Remember, YOU are precious and deserve to be nurtured.
What self-care strategies do you employ to nurture yourself? How do you feel during and after doing something for yourself? I welcome your comments and strategies below. Feel free to share this post with a friend.
I recently returned from a 3-day retreat where there was no cell service and no internet. What an unusual and blissful experience!
When my friend who I was driving with said there was no cell service at the retreat location, I initially felt some relief and then quickly thought of whom I should text to alert them.
When we arrived at the “spot”, a rustic building by the ocean, I started to relax and drink in the beauty of our surroundings. When I checked into my room, which was small, yet comfortable, I was intrigued by the monkey tree outside my window and felt blessed to have a room with a view of the ocean. For me, being by, in or on the water is where I feel most at home. At a Vision Quest a number of years ago, an aboriginal elder dreamt in my medicine name, which is “Laughing Otter Heart”. Initially I thought, that’s not as reverent as my friend’s name “Soaring Dawn Eagle”, yet it so connects me to the essence of who I am; to water, being in nature and my playful side. Now I smile when I think of it.
Within a short time of being at the retreat center, I felt all my cares melt away; my shoulders lightened, my mind quieted and I connected to my “being” side, (as I am often “doing”). I so enjoyed the three days of interacting with the other amazing women, facilitating my portion of the workshop and basking in the joy of being “unplugged” and in nature.
Did you know that the Japanese have done longitudinal research on the benefits of walking in forests? They have found that walking in forests strengthens your immune system, reduces your heart rate and your blood pressure. Based on these findings, they have institutionalized what they call “forest bathing” or “forest therapy” and have created a number of centers across Japan where people can go and walk in forests. How powerful is that!
With such busy lives and the associated stresses, regularly spending time in nature, and unplugging from technology are simple yet powerful practices that have amazingly positive benefits on our bodies, our minds and our relationships.
When was the last time you unplugged and spent time in nature? I welcome your thoughts and experiences below and invite you to share the post with others.