The average UK person spends almost 3.5 hours a day online, outside of working hours. I assume that many days I come close to that amount myself. Between blogging, catching up on shows and looking up trips and recipes, I can easily get lost in the digital world. And although I have become more and more mindful about what types of online platforms I use – I pretty much quit social media -, I definitely see the merit in connecting digitally and having access to the wealth of knowledge that is stored in the web.
The digital sabbath
But seeing merit in the digital reformation doesn’t mean we should spend hours a day dogmatically praying to our devices. I don’t know about you, but I often feel bogged down by the time spent online. Particularly when there are so many other things I would want to spend my time on. When I heard Pico Iyer talk about the concept of digital sabbaths (or a digital detox weekend) last November, I was keen to try out my own weekend away from the screen. The rules were simple. For one full day (or in my case a weekend), you turn off all screen devices, such as phones, laptops, and TVs. Let your loved ones know you can only be reached by pigeons for that day and the quiet beauty of the digital sabbath can unfold.
If you feel stressed or burned out, you probably feel like you need more energy. I did when I went through my health crisis. But we don’t need energy to feel more rested and balanced. We need space. Empty space, to be precise. In a time where we are always on, we lack the time to be off. Stress isn’t the problem, but the lack of meaningful rest. By clocking off the digital matrix for one day a week, we allow our body and mind to recover from the constant stimuli we are exposed to nowadays. Stepping away from technology more regularly has been one of the most useful things I have done the reduce my stress levels.
I used to want to do all these activities I thought I didn’t have time for. In my ideal life, I saw myself taking long walks in the countryside, pottering around the house and creating wholesome meals. Of course, I don’t need to explain that I did have time for them if I had only
Deal with sh*t
A digital sabbath can be uncomfortable at first. One of the reasons we reach for our phones so often is to distract ourselves from uncomfortable feelings. The feeling might as simple as boredom or something deeper and more uncomfortable. For me (and for many others) my phone was my main source of distraction. So when I started introducing the digital sabbath, I got uncomfortable quite quickly. The beauty of negative emotions is that when we stop suppressing them, they actually go away completely. If you are struggling to just sit with your emotions, a nice way to navigate through them is by journaling your thoughts. And you will see that dealing with your sh*t becomes easier over time. I have found that the longer I have been doing these digital detoxes, the more emotionally resilient I have become.
Since that weekend in November, I now have a digital sabbath each week. Whenever I can, I try to make a whole weekend out of it. But many weeks, I need a day at the weekend to take care of some digital errands. Whether you can commit to a whole weekend, or perhaps even just one afternoon a week, I can wholeheartedly recommend introducing the digital sabbath to your week.
Have you ever tried a digital sabbath?