I began writing this essay while sitting on a hill, looking at the fantastic landscape of Tiberias lake, knowing that the sun had already sunk a few hours ago. I have already decided to turn off my phone on airplane mode, declined all calls earlier this day, and didn’t respond to any messages or emails (or even read them).
But first, let me tell you what happened earlier in the morning of this day. It was just another regular day when I started my morning meditation session (usually 20 minutes ). Suddenly, I felt a dissociative experience, noticing that I had left my body and all the physical world and transferred to somewhere else, but not too far from my body. Yet, I was away enough to define this experience as unique. I don’t know if it was two seconds or five minutes, but it was liberating.
With that being said, I decided to make a pre-planned three days travel to Tiberias lake, an experiment of disconnecting from the world as much as possible, including unplugging my devices. I knew it wouldn’t be perfect, as I was traveling with my family and friends and not alone. And I know it will be easy to get back to my comfort zone. But, I decided to give it a try.
Why Disconnecting and Unplugging?
The primary purpose of disconnecting and unplugging from work and daily life is to clear your mind.
You may find yourself overwhelmed, tired, and exhausted daily due to multiple tasks and worries. Keeping yourself close to these tasks and concerns during a vacation can only increase them.
The problem lies in the technology available, which provides immediate access to your remote office and continuous connection with people worldwide.
So, what can you earn by disconnecting and unplugging?
- Clear your mind.
- Make time for thinking.
- Review yourself.
- Spend more time with people around you.
- Eliminate worries.
- Increased focus.
- Charging energy for later work
How to Disconnect?
Disconnecting from your daily life and work is not easy in the modern era. While everyone was able to go for a vacation and disconnect or unplug for days or weeks easily half a decade ago, today, you can connect easily. You can continue working and “present” at work even during your vacation. All you need is WiFi and a smartphone.
While I tried to unplug myself and disconnect and enjoy the nature scenes thoroughly, it was clear how much people are addicted to their devices or can’t sit for a moment without taking a photo, checking their notifications, or answering another message. I saw many who sit on one most incredible spots around the sea but still hold their phones instead of staring at what they have in front of their eyes.
Is it addiction to the device itself? Probably not. It’s more an addiction to be updated, a fear of missing out on a moment, or FOMO (the fear of missing out). Anyway, the need to continue doing what can be done every day is not a real change. I might be exaggerating, but spending much of your time in front of the mini screen is not a real vacation.
While most people will not unplug easily without an apparent excuse, I think it’s better to think about disconnection and unplugging excuses and how we can destroy them.
No Swamp at Work When you Return
That could be true if you left enough work before you go. But the smart thing to do (and always stay on this track) is to be one step ahead of your tasks and keep them all completed.
Don’t leave work to do after your vacation. Even if you will have more work to do when coming back, pretending to work during a break by checking email or responding to messages is not real work that will move you forward. So, there is no reason to do such things. Enjoy the vacation instead.
Create an Automatic Email Reply
I don’t use this during short vacations, but during long ones, you can create an email reply to instruct people on what to do during your absence. In addition, informing that you are on vacation, everyone can handle it without you.
Most People Can Handle it Without Your Presence
During my residency in internal medicine, I feared that coworkers, patients, and the system, in general, couldn’t handle it without my presence.
The opposite is true. If you work in an organization, the system will handle it easily without you. So, don’t feel guilty that you are not there and don’t respond to messages or emails.
You can also create and leave guidance on what your coworkers can do and how they can handle this alone. That might compensate for your absence and provide some help.
Don’t feel guilty about sitting on the beach while others work; you can get updates later.
Enjoy the People You Accompany, Not Those on WhatsApp
Instant messaging has made the connection between people so easy, as it is called: Instantly. Even if you are on the other side of the world, you can bring a live video of the view directly to others’ smartphone screens if you have an internet connection. Never was that easy!
Anyway, I think that enjoying the time with the people around you is more human and satisfying. That’s true, especially if these are your family and friends. That’s how you can get and know the people better, explore them and build a stronger relationships.
Everyone is Important
One excuse we make to ourselves to be stuck at work is that we do essential things. But only a few people are that important, only a few deal with life-threatening and urgent things that should be handled immediately. Don’t convince yourself that you are so important. You are essential, just as most people around you; otherwise, you won’t be there.
Turn Off Notifications (if you hadn’t already)
If you haven’t done that already, I recommend turning off notifications on your phone. This action will reduce anxiety and stress, and leave your home screen empty and clean, so make time to clear your mind.
Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode
If you struggle with your phone presence and can’t leave it alone, just put it on airplane mode and into the safe box (or anywhere safe). This is a great way to eliminate the bother and worry of your phone and everything accompanying it (messages, emails, calls…).
It’s also an excellent way to ignore and don’t answer calls.
Alternative Way to Spend a Vacation
Disconnecting from my work, messages, and emails was a great decision.
First, I don’t have to worry about work at all. This is because I took care of all my obligations and tasks at work before going out on vacation, so I didn’t have to worry about it.
Second, putting my phone on airplane mode and leaving it inside the safe was the core of unplugging. Like many, I want to use my smartphone less and eliminate the bad habit of checking emails or messages by putting down the phone and forgetting about it. So I used my phone only when traveling for directions or, if necessary, for essential calls.
Instead of holding my phone or iPad, I did what should be done during a vacation: simple activities.
What is excellent in these activities is the reward you get later: better mode, good physical status and energy, and positive experiences.
These include swimming, playing with the kids, watching the sunrise, enjoying the silence at night, and meditation during extreme silence.
Besides, I found time to think, read and even write, activities that I struggle to do during a regular week. It’s not that a vacation will make you a genius if you forget about digital devices, but it can clear your mind at least.
The best part was the morning time I have earned, which I spent exercising, and taking these photos:
So, while I didn’t answer or decline calls, messages, or emails and didn’t spend one moment working, I have enjoyed fantastic sunrise scenes. Let the photos speak.
Eating and Drinking
There are some relations between food, drinks, and vacation. I had the opportunity to eat a different diet from my daily one and drink alcohol without limits.
But I choose to keep the regular diet plan, relying most of the time on a low carb diet, salads, and fruits. Anyway, I’m not writing to tell you what I eat precisely, that’s not the point.
The point is the experience. Changing the diet is not necessary to have a great time. You don’t need a big special plate or drink a couple of beers a day. The peace, calm, and moments of happiness during a vacation are not dependent on what you eat.
I even found it more attractive to fast and clean the body and mind. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.
If you are a parent and travel with children, you know they can be a source of extreme energy consumption and exhaustion. They need immediate attention and continuous activities, and they have their need. Add to this their emotional instability, and you spend the vacation working hard with them instead of relaxing.
But we can see things differently. It’s better to think about the bonuses we get as parents:
- Great time to spend with kids.
- Building better relationships.
- Expose them to new and challenging experiences.
- Teaching the history, geography, principles of social interactions, etc.
If we go beyond the immediate need for relaxation and focus our energy in the right direction, a vacation with the kids is like an investment for the long run. See the bright side, and you will be filled with energy.
Disconnecting and unplugging from your daily life, work and tasks is an opportunity to clear the mind, enjoy simple things, improve creativity and productivity, and charge energy when you come back.
Although disconnection has its challenges, you can turn a simple and short one into a great experience with the right mindset.