Well, it was a week at the beach with a bag of books, my journal, lots of good food and plenty of time to simply chill. No computer, no internet, no email. Bliss.
Inspiration for my digital holiday came several months back from the fabulous Natalie Sisson, The Suitcase Entrepreneur. She teaches people how to create and run successful online businesses from anywhere in the world. She runs her business online while travelling around the World. Brilliant.
Given Natalie’s business operates almost entirely in the digital world, it was inspiring to see her stepping away from it for a break. She very sensibly set some parameters for herself as she went into what she called her ‘digital sabbatical’ - a practical aspect that I neglected to recall as I headed up the coast. So there were a few lessons and benefits I experienced on mine.
Oh, how the mind loves a break
The biggest plus for me was the total mental break. Switching off from intensive thinking and writing and ‘work mode’ was great. Apart from drafting a course outline for a training I’m running in October (with a nice sense of spaciousness to think creatively), I didn’t do any work. I also didn’t hanker for my laptop like I thought I would. It feels so good to be mentally refreshed.
If you’ve ever had that feeling of what I call ‘brain-fry’ you will know the value in letting your brain switch off and rejuvenate. I know I’ve talked about this before, and I can guarantee that I will talk about it again. And I suspect we will both need the reminder!
Getting away from digital really counts. I think we forget that in just half an hour of surfing the internet, whether it’s Facebook, YouTube or Blog sites, your brain is processing more visual (and possibly auditory) stimulus than someone would have encountered in a whole day (maybe even week!) the year my grandmother was born 90 years ago.
Your brain is an extraordinary and stupendous phenomenon. It is also organic. That means it needs fuel (food), hydration (water), and rest (holidays and sleep). If you feel like a refresher on all this, I’ve decided to re-post ‘Your Healthy Brain with Daniel Amen’ which I shared early last year. Dr Amen shares his fantastic knowledge in this amusing and entertaining clip – it’s about an hour long and well worth the watch. Your high performance brain with Dr Daniel Amen.
Wonderful things happen when your brain is empty.
Maira Kalman, Illustrator
It’s good to have choice
Because I hadn’t set any ground rules for my digital holiday – apart from an all-out freeze on access - I hadn’t factored in was the play I would be missing out on in the form of making some new playlists for my iPod. Because I had left my laptop behind I had no option, I just couldn’t do it. Well, I could have done it with my iPhone in a limited way, but that wasn’t what I had in mind. This is when I realised that having my laptop physically with me could have been useful.
However, was I pleased to not sit staring a screen for a couple of hours moving music lists around? Yes.
When being online is really handy
OK, so I have a confession. I used the internet. Once.
I was in beautiful Russell for the day; one of my most favourite parts of New Zealand. I did a little shopping for friends’ birthdays, took the ferry to Paihia for an hour and enjoyed lunch near the wharf. I also took the opportunity to grab a few extra supplies at the local grocery store, including ingredients to make bliss balls. I thought they’d be a yummy healthy treat, required no actual cooking, plus a friend had given me a recipe the day I left for my trip.
The only thing was, I was at the store without the recipe. This is what a phone with the internet is for! So I guiltily pulled out my phone, turned the data back on and opened the browser. I stealthily typed in “healthy bliss balls recipe” (as if one of my neighbouring shoppers was going to spring me for going digital any minute), and there appeared a host of options. Suddenly I could shop.
Go the internet!
It turns out the version I made (which was my concoction based on things I like including figs and dark chocolate) was really good! While I pass recipes on to friends often, I’ve never shared a recipe in my clients, but I thought perhaps it was time, just for fun. So check out the recipe at the very bottom – the Holiday Bliss Balls Recipe.
Are you slave to technology? Take the apron off.
Given the strictness of having a total ban on digital, it also got me thinking about the inflexibility we experience when we are in constant digital mode; being our everyday, connected, online, available selves.
We shouldn’t have to take a digital holiday to be able to choose when we’re online, answering the phone or clearing email. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a client who is trying to feel more in control of their day say, “So maybe I should turn off my email notifications?” (The answer to that one in all instances is a resounding Yes, by the way). I also recall once asking a roomful of corporate lawyers to turn their phones off as we began a workshop, only to find that the majority didn’t know how to do so. Hmmmm. These are intelligent people doing rather un-intelligent things.
Now, maybe you actually want to be available 24/7? If you are guilty of being uber available, have you ever checked in with yourself about why you do so? Perhaps it makes you feel important. Perhaps it is a welcome distraction from a boring social life or a stressful home situation? Perhaps it’s just a bad habit? The trick is to be honest with yourself, and take back control. You get to choose how you operate day-to-day. Don’t be a slave to your phone, the internet (or your job). I’m quite sure when you are sitting back at 80 years old musing on what you loved most about your life, it will not be these things. Enough said.
Digital holidays rock. Figure out your parameters/ground rules. Be real about your ability to stay away from your computer, and leave it with the neighbour if you have to!
Give yourself the delicious luxury of space to rest, rejuvenate, dream, Be.
And, just for taste-bud fun …
Holiday Bliss Balls Recipe
8 figs (preferably soft and moist)
1 cup desiccated coconut
2 ½ cups nuts (this is the combo I like: 1 ½ cups walnuts, ½ cup Brazil nuts, ½ cup almonds)
½ cup cocoa powder
2 Tblsp grated dark chocolate
¼ cup warm (boiled or filtered) water
1 tsp vanilla essence
Throw everything except half the water in your kitchen whizz/food processor and blast away until the mixture turns into a dough. Add rest of water if needed to bind.
Roll into balls – the size of a cherry tomato or larger. A nice touch is to dip one half of the ball into warm water and then coconut (helps it stick).
I keep these in the fridge so they stay moist and particularly delicious. They freeze well too so you can bring them out in batches. Enjoy!
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