How many times each day do you pick up your cell phone? Whether to check email, refresh social media feeds, Venmo a friend for last night’s dinner or get an Uber, we are constantly on our phones. It can pretty easily be summed up in a single phrase: we’re obsessed with our mobile devices.
The obsession seems to be perpetual. For some of us, it doesn’t even end when we go on vacation. It’s hard enough to manage to take a vacation at all, let alone put down the cell phone while traveling.
But taking much-needed time off amidst today’s busy world is crucial.
“It allows you space to decompress, reset your nervous system, tap into deeper creativity and simply take care of yourself,” Jennifer Dieas, founder and CEO of Glowout Salons, said. “When we do this as a regular practice we become more present for everyone and everything we do, therefore creating deeper and richer connections in our lives.”
Dan Gloede, CEO of Hatch Loyalty (formerly Belly), made time to get away, but learned the importance of disconnecting the hard way. On a recent vacation with his wife and daughter, he spent a lot of time on his phone. While traveling, he got dysentery and started feeling the effects when he returned home.
“The vacation ended up being forced upon me. I was so sick I couldn’t even function,” he said. “It kind of reinforced the value to me of actually putting the phone away, thinking about family and thinking about personal time.”
If you’re someone who struggles to unplug even when you’re on vacation, check out the following tips.
Set up a plan before you leave
Gloede shared a bit of advice on this front. Before you leave the office, cement the expectation that while you’re away, you won’t be available. There’s really nothing so urgent that it can’t wait until you’re back.
Leave work tech behind
In an article for the Harvard Business Review, writer and speaker Alexandra Samuel put it simply: The easiest way to unwind is to not bring your work computer and phone on vacation.
“This doesn’t mean having to go out and buy new hardware; for your phone, for example, you can buy a pay-as-you-go SIM card, so that you can use the device without using your work number,” she wrote. “Similarly, you can set up a separate user profile and account on your computer.”
Adjust the devices you bring along
If you decide to bring your phone or computer along, Samuel proposed turning off work-related notifications. That way, you won’t constantly be reminded of work while you’re supposed to be relaxing. She added that if you want to go the extra mile, you can limit access to work-related accounts — that includes email, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like.
Choose a new kind of getaway
Another option is to pick a destination where you can truly escape.
Dieas suggested Yoga House in Michigan. “It’s the most serene experience to spend a few days doing yoga, eating farm to table, hiking and being in nature,” she said. “I always find I can connect with myself after spending a little time in nature.”
Last spring, Gloede and his wife went to Miraval in Arizona, which is the ideal place to escape our phone-obsessed culture. The resort has a policy on cell phones — they have to be off during the day. If you want to check your mobile device, you can do so in your room. Gloede called his time at Miraval a “fantastic experience.”
Taking look at the larger picture, vacation shouldn’t be the only time we’re disconnecting — unplugging should be something we do for a bit each day.
“That’s one of the things I’m focusing on … for periods of time during the day, be present and focus on what’s important at home,” Gloede said.
Dieas agreed. “To me, busy is a drug,” she said. “It can quickly become addicting in our culture to go, go, go nonstop.”
She advocated for setting aside a few moments for yourself every day. “Once you build up that daily practice, it can be easier to allow ourselves that time when we are vacationing.”