How to do a digital detox, the explorers way
We live in a world dominated by technology, that’s no secret. But increasingly we are becoming aware of the negative impacts that an always-connected world has on our health and wellbeing. Everything from bluelight to facebook notifications plays a big role in the reduction of sleep quality and the increase in anxiety we each feel. This problem, as we’ll call it, has increased exponentially year over year and continues to accelerate as new tech pushes the boundaries of what’s possible. Now, we wear watches that track our movement and head phones that know when we’re listening. We have devices in our home constantly at the ready to answer our questions, and incredible devices in our pockets that we all feel naked without.
There’s no arguing that technology has increased the quality of life on Earth for all humans (in general… military grade weapons AI might be a counter to that), but there are side effects that we all feel. Thankfully now there are some really great companies about that help us remedy the side effects of a life online. Start ups like Unplugged.rest literally lock away your phone while you enjoy a peaceful hideaway in the British countryside. Flare Audio also have released a really awesome concept using earbuds to alter the shape of your ear and block out certain frequencies known to cause stress. The age of the digital detox is upon us.
So I thought I’d share my thoughts on how the outdoors, and specifically exploration and adventure can help you to disconnect your wires and reprogram your circuits.
Imagine you’re standing in a forest, your phone disappears from your hand, followed by your watch and your head phones. You feel panic initially, but it subsides as the bristles of pine needles beneath your feet and the twitter of birds penetrates your headspace and you start feeling connected again to nature. But this doesn’t last long, within a few minutes your digitally calibrated mind searches for it’s stimulus fix and you begin to get frustrated. You start looking for something to do, something to read, something to interact with. But there is nothing…
Human beings have fantastic imaginations, and when devoid of stimulus are very well equipped at finding joy and comfort in the seemingly meaningless things around us. Take any adult human being and place them in the above scenario, and they will very quickly find some new purpose or reason to start exploring. Starting with a few steps this way, and then that, you’d soon find yourself in search of food, or wondering what’s over that creek or up that hill. How would you even know where you are? Exploration is instinctual to the essence of life, and the success of our species. Without it, Homo Sapiens would never have been motivated or successful in their expansion across the Earth.
In this way, deliberate exploration of an area or an adventure into an unknown part of the world is cleansing for your mind. Recalibrating your senses to seek stimulus from the search of something unknown, rather than a steady stream of easy to grab mental junk food. Even if that something unknown is a new pub, a new mountain climbed or a new landscape consumed, the search for a thing to be discovered is a great way to switch yourself off and on again, and hopefully find refreshment and solace.
So my advice to anyone feeling pent up or stressed out in this new Covid world of lockdowns and zoom calls, is to get outside. Get outside with no agenda and no phone and see what wonderful things you can discover for the first time around you.