Benefits of a Digital Detox | Escape Haven - Bali Retreat

Benefits of a Digital Detox

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It goes without saying that if you’re reading this right now, you’re either on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Maybe you’re at home, maybe you’re on your lunch break at work, or maybe you’re lying in bed starting or ending your day. With our modern society fuelled by digital use, our devices are never far from our side, and are rarely out of our line of sight! On one hand, technology now allows us to connect ever so easily to the people we love all around the world, it opens up new opportunities for us to work outside of the office, and it has ushered in a new era of convenience with online shopping, banking, bookings and so forth. On the other hand, you could say that we have never been so disconnected. Disconnected from ourselves and the immediate world around us.

In fact, studies have shown that people feel more isolated than ever before. Productivity levels noticeably decrease with mobile usage. We spend less time face to face with those we love. The rise in self-esteem issues, anxiety and depression have all been directly linked to our dependency on social media and our devices. In an era where being online and ‘plugged in’ is increasingly essential, the need to monitor our usage and place conscious boundaries in place to ensure self-care is of utmost importance.

Just out of interest, when was the last time you spent a whole day entirely offline? Perhaps that concept is even unthinkable?! You’re not alone! The facts and figures indicate that women between the ages of 25-45 spend on average up to three hours a day just on their mobile device alone. We may be waiting at the dentist, in line at the grocery store, waiting to collect children from school – it’s all too easy to spend this seemingly vacant time checking notifications or scrolling mindlessly. The ‘demands’ of digital media mean that we are constantly posting, ‘graming, tweeting, pinning, chatting, slacking, skyping, liking and swiping. It can easily begin to feel overwhelming. 

On our Bali retreat, we don’t impose any rules around digital devices and usage, however we do find that guests organically navigate away from their devices and bask in the opportunity to switch off and embrace the new and exciting world around them.

With so much to experience, new people to connect with (face to face!), sights to take in and activities to explore, the previously urgent desire to check notifications dissipates. Time and time again, guests report to us that this rather organic ‘digital detox’ leaves them feeling refreshed, relaxed, and connected in a much more important and rewarding way.

Our annual Nyepi retreat offers the perfect opportunity to really dive into a period of digital detox. Nyepi is the Balinese new year holiday which is celebrated by a day of silence. On this special day every March, all shops, cafes and businesses close, everyone stays indoors, and people refrain from using technology and wifi. On retreat, we have a special schedule for Nypei and guests can enjoy a day of yoga, meditation, flower mandala making, spa treatments, journalling, spirit offering making and spare time to lounge by the pool, take a nap or read in the sunshine. Taking a full 24 hours away from social media and devices is incredibly liberating. Perhaps for some, it can feel a little uncomfortable or unnerving at first- this may be a sign that it is exactly what you need!  

Of course, a digital detox is only suggested, not imposed over Nyepi on our Bali retreat. However, we do find that most women eagerly embrace the opportunity (or challenge!) to switch off on this special day. If you’re wondering what benefits a digital detox offer, take a read below, you may be surprised to see the myriad of ways your holistic health can thrive when you choose to hit the off switch.  

Break Bad Habits

Does your day begin by picking up your phone whilst still in bed? Do you notice yourself reaching for your phone whenever a pocket of time arises? Are you constantly being distracted by dings and bells from your devices? Do you feel anxious at the thought of leaving the house without your phone? Is it hard for you to enjoy a special occasion without posting about it on social media? With technology so prolific in modern society, high device usage has very quickly become normalised. Yet, that doesn’t mean it is good for us. The human body simply isn’t designed to be on computers or looking at screens all day long. A digital detox can be a very insightful way to recognise your own habits and routines and determine whether they are serving you, or if you are a servant to your devices!  Once you become aware of these habits, you can start to look at ways to introduce new healthy habits and self-care practices around your device usage. From having tech-free times throughout the day to updating your notification settings, to making your bed a no phone zone, or deleting apps off your devices- there are many ways to control and limit your usage if you are concerned about your habits.

Enjoy Things You Love

You may be amazed at how much time opens up in your day to day life when you start to limit or become more aware of your device usage. Literally hours each day that you spend on social media or browsing the web can be redirected to doing things that you truly love to do. Try making a list of all the things you tell yourself you don’t have time for. Then spend some time tracking your device use each day (there are apps for this or most phones will also simply tell you your daily usage.) From there, you can determine whether you can swap out some of your less productive time online for some of the activities that truly nourish your soul. Perhaps you have time for that yoga class, that coffee (in real time!) with a friend, a massage at the end of the week, more time playing with your children or taking your partner out on a date. Spend less time looking at what other people are doing with their lives, and spend more time fully living your own life- this is so much more fulfilling.

Be Present

We have become acutely disconnected from our surroundings. Focusing our attention on our devices in any environment means that we miss out on so many marvellous sights, sounds and opportunities that the world so openly offers us in any given moment. Instead of reaching for your phone the next time you are in line at the grocery store, at the bus stop or in a cafe on your own, take stock of your surroundings, breathe in the fresh air, start a conversation with a real-life human being. Our phones have become safety nets for us, to the point that communicating with strangers -which was so common and innate for us only a decade or so ago- feels uncomfortable and even odd. Our device usage has become so commonplace that not only do we tend to ignore people we don’t know, we also pay less attention to those we do know! How often do you find your partner, friend or child talking to you and you are only half-listening whilst you have your phone in hand? Don’t worry, we are all guilty of this! Studies have found that even having a phone on the table when you are enjoying a meal with someone means that part of your mind is distracted and not fully engaged. Try leaving your phone out of reach in situations where it is unnecessary and experience the great wide world that exists around you.

Boost Self-Esteem

Do you ever come off your phone after being on social media feeling less than fabulous? Do you find yourself comparing yourself to the highlight reels of others and always coming off second best? Numerous studies have shown that social media lowers our self esteem and negatively affects our mental wellbeing. Even though we are aware of the common use of filters and apps that distort the bodies we see on social media, it doesn’t seem to make us feel less inferior or negate that drive to compete or compare. Numerous studies have shown that those who spend more than an hour a day on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are more unhappy with their bodies than others who spent less time on the sites. Taking time away from social media, and spending time with the real people in our lives that we truly cherish, helps us to remember and remain aware of the things we also love about ourselves. When we spend time doing more of the things that we love, with the people that we love, we cannot help but to feel uplifted and enlivened.

Reclaim Control

The truth is many people these days feel ruled by their devices. Our days are dictated by our inbox while the various notifications we receive continuously take us out of the present moment and draw us into another world. We have become dependent on that dopamine hit that we get from these notifications, so much so, that social media addiction has been likened to the same addition people have with gambling, drugs or alcohol. Estimates suggest that over 210 million people suffer from internet and social media addictions worldwide. Not only is this affecting our mental health and productivity levels, but studies have also shown that it is reducing our desires, motivation and goal directed behaviour as we become addicted to the instant gratification that our devices offer. Taking time offline is the best way to reclaim control of your life and not be a servant to your devices. While having the world at our fingertips can be alluring, it can also be disempowering. Reclaiming that control is essential to have a healthy relationship with device usage. 

Mental Wellbeing

Did you know that we now take in five times the amount of information in one day than we did a mere 30 years ago? Whether we realise it or not, we are constantly being bombarded with information through the media, technology, our devices and the modern world. Furthermore, our brains have less down-time to process this information. While social media has been shown to have detrimental effects on our mental health, so too does technology use in general. Never before have anxiety and stress levels been so high. Social media has also been linked to higher levels of loneliness, envy, anxiety, depression, narcissism and decreased social skills. Studies have shown that those who spend 5 hours per day using their phones are almost twice as likely to exhibit depressive symptoms than counterparts who dedicated only 1 hour on their phones. As human beings we need time with other people, we need time in nature, we need time to nourish ourselves with food, movement and new experiences. Technology has replaced a great deal of this time. A digital detox offers our minds a much-needed break. Time away from our devices can help to lower our stress levels, lower our anxiety and let go of the comparison and competition that often stems from time on our devices. 

Deep Sleep

Do you take your phone or computer to bed with you? Again, you’re not alone.  45% of people check social media at night instead of sleeping, and roughly 10% of people check their phones more than 10 times per night. This is a common scenario in households all over the world. Unfortunately, our screens can wreak havoc on our sleep patterns. The blue light from our screen affects us in two ways- first by disrupting the body’s production of sleep-inducing hormones, and second by throwing the body’s natural circadian rhythm off-balance. Being online before sleep also keeps your mind busy and active, when ideally this time is best spent winding down. You may find that abstaining from your devices 2-3 hours before bed will make it easier to fall asleep, and also instigate a longer, deeper sleep cycle. With insomnia, a huge epidemic in the western world, finding ways to support your sleep patterns is becoming more and more important. A digital detox may be insightful in terms of demonstrating the quality of sleep that is possible without the interference of devices. 

These are just a handful of the benefits that a digital detox can offer. A digital detox is a powerful way to help you establish your own set of guidelines to make technology work for you, rather than the other way around. If you would like to experience the benefits of a digital detox in a retreat environment, our Nyepi retreat week is the perfect opportunity. Combine a week of culture, wellness and exploration with a very special day of quiet introspection to celebrate the Balinese new year. Set your own intentions and return back home with new healthy habits to support your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Find out more about Nyepi here, and contact us here for bookings or with questions about your Bali retreat.

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