Yesterday, a Monday, I went to work to attend a work retreat day. Mondays are not my usual work day so I was out of my rhythm, particularly as I am still trying to find my groove again after being on holidays for 2 weeks. By the time I got on the train to work I reached into my bag to send hubby a text only to realise, shock horror, my phone was left at home.

However, I was not in a tizz about not having my phone connected to me for a day. I coped the whole day without worrying about if anyone had tried to call me (mum was the only missed call, nothing urgent), not having the urge to fill a spare moment by checking social media or even taking a photo to remember the moment (the view of the city from the work retreat was spectacular!). The my family coped without knowing the exact moment I was on my way home and didn’t even noticed that I had not sent a text to say I was ok.

I was not always this calm without being connected into technology. The difference was that I had just returned from my holiday which I had made into a 2 week digital sabbatical. I recently had listened to The Slow Home podcast with William Powers and not long before that had seen Brooke from Slow Your Home take a digital sabbatical in July for her family holiday. This had inspired me to disconnect and fully immerse myself to take time out for me and my family.

Do you feel the urge to constantly check your phone? Are you constantly glued to a screen? Do you feel anxious when you are not connected to technology? Just before my holiday I listened to a great conversation on One Minute Mindfulness Show about Digital Twitch. As a family we have the no technology at the dinner table with phones away and TV off, no phones to be gazed at whilst speaking with each other, no phone checking in the bedroom, and overall have slowed down our use of technology that is distracting us from living life. We are modelling to our son a better way to be mindful with technology.

We have had moments where we as parents have not been the best example, particularly when I was working heaps on the computer back in July and August on a couple of education courses. I got the reality check I needed when I was at the Twenty8 HLE graduation in Mooloolaba, watching my son wizz around Underwater World Aquarium pretending to use each of the display signs as a computer, typing away. When asked to stop and look at the fish around him my son remarked ‘I’m busy’. From this I made a conscious effort to be more mindful of how I was using technology around my son.

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Underwater World, Mooloolaba

In preparation for my digital sabbatical I turned off all Facebook notifications on my phone and removed the short cuts to social media from my home screen. I have heard some people even go the length of deleting the app entirely off their phone; I didn’t go this far. The first day of my holiday I picked up my phone out of habit, remembered my promise to myself and consequently put the phone back in my hand bag. The phone suddenly had no purpose in my present moment. I spent the next 2 weeks hardly touching my phone. There were a couple of moments when I was on the in presence of a group on my retreat where the conversation turned to everyone checking their phones. While everyone’s heads were down I was enjoying sitting on the pool deck soaking in the morning sunshine on my back.

Being on holidays and being fully disconnected was bliss. I was enjoying the company of others with much laughter and conversation with new friends at the retreat. I was taking photos for me, not with a view to share them with the world on social media. Even husband found himself checking social media hardly ever. Our second week we stayed high up in the Byron hinterland which was an enforced disconnection as there was extremely limited mobile coverage, no WI-FI and patchy TV reception. I thoroughly enjoyed the simple pleasures of spending time with my family, reading a book and many a time gazing out over the valley enjoying the ever changing vista that surrounded us.

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Vista from Toolond Plantation

Since our holiday I have chosen not to turn the notifications back on Facebook or to return social media back to my home screen. I have dramatically reduced my FOMO (fear of missing out) on social media. I have added a message on my lock screen “Be mindful”, which catches me when I find myself picking up my phone in a spare moment.

Have you thought about how connected you are to technology? Would you give a digital sabbatical a go?