Digital Detox Holidays

The Chateau de Belcayre on the River Vezere, Perigord, France

The Chateau de Belcayre on the River Vezere, Perigord, France

Internet Under Control

Do you have the internet under control? Do you continuously check your Emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest. Do you have several and multiple conversations going on at once in various messengers & chats? Do you have dozens of tabs open on your browser?

Could you check your email just three times a day, visit Twitter five times, check Facebook once instead of what it is now a constant binge?

Could you take a day off, a technological Sabbath? Could you go a week on a Digital detox?

Do you suspect your online life is richer more real and more intense than your actual life? Are you the online wit who has nothing to say in real life?

This constant disruption is surely the enemy of creating anything: anything of depth and substance.

This is what novelist Jonathan Franzen had to say:

“When I’m working, I need to isolate myself at the office, because I’m easily distracted and modern life has become extremely distracting. Distraction pours through every portal, especially through the internet. And most of what pours through is meaningless noise. To be able to hear what’s really happening in the world, you have to block out 99% of the noise.”

Perhaps it is time to take a break.

We are obviously not going to go back to a pre-internet world, but we should be able to determine a way of living with it and still be creative and pro-active.

It should be possible to re-learn what the world was like before it, even if it is just a small holiday from the all encompassing reality of connectedness. After all that’s is what our fathers did when they learnt what holidays were for and realised that their fathers hadn’t had holidays at all. It’s surely time to turn our backs on the maelstrom of being constantly ‘on’ and to try and find that space & time to switch ‘off’ and re-connect in those older more ancient ways.

“The place we need to get to is one where we can move between offline and digital worlds and we’re in control, rather than bobbing on the ocean of messages and updates that sweep us this way and that.” Dr Richard Graham, consultant psychiatrist specialising in technology addiction at the Nightingale hospital in London.

The Chateau de Losse on the River Vezere, Perigord, France

The Chateau de Losse on the River Vezere, Perigord, France

Canoe Touring Holidays

Firstly our holidays are not strictly digital detox. We don’t throw your devices in the river and we do go to [some] places that have wi-fi.

We do seriously endeavour though to persuade you to let go.

In the first place we encourage you to go online only in the privacy of your own room. In this way when you are in the social space of breakfast or lunch or dinner you are being sociable with those who you are actually with and not those half-way around the world. This also separates work from play. We really try to persuade you to leave work behind, but if you cannot then it’s probably best if you are doing it alone, so you can concentrate, and perhaps get it done and dusted.

Secondly we remind you that technology and water is not a great mix. We’ve seen many phones and cameras disappear into the river. If you must bring it with you then you make sure it is in a waterproof jacket: preferably two, one inside the other. If you do spill the canoe and your belongings end up afloat or sinking at least they have some chance of surviving.  Of course being inaccessible like this increases the chance they will not be used.

Which is a bit of a nuisance if you are a keen photographer. Which is a dilemma. Do you risk using a camera in a wobbly canoe. Would you exchange a cheap waterproof camera for your fancy DSLR? I can assure you that it is not easy to canoe and photograph at the same time – and I of course do it all the time.

The places where we paddle however have several advantages in the digital detox stakes. Very often we are paddling in deep gorges very far from wi-fi services and more often than not with terrible phone connections – even when you can see the mobile towers perched on the cliff far above you. In many of these places you couldn’t get a connection even if you wanted too. After a while it becomes tiresome to even attempt it and after several days of this kind of nonsense it becomes natural to disavow your telephone. Don’t throw it in the river though. Just file it away in your bag. It could be handy later.

So that’s meal-times and on-water times technology free. How about the other times? Well, the other social times are spent perhaps in cafes and bars where the same rules apply as at lunch and dinner. Anyway why would you want to spoil the atmosphere by rummaging about for your phone. You’re here, now, and in need of a long cold drink. You’re exhilarated by the achievement of getting your boat thus far and tremulous about the hours of watery activity ahead. Their is absolutely no need to complicate your day any further. All you have to think about is when you should be drawing and when you should be prying to keep your canoe relatively on the straight and narrow. You can practise your J-stroke and cross-draw in your mind or instead take a quick nap in the warm sun.

If like me you like to rise early and go for a walk before breakfast then you are welcome to join me. I can’t say I’m very voluble in the morning. I’m definitely not. All the same I wouldn’t want to be walking alongside you whilst you’re on the phone. At that time in the morning I just want to enjoy the birdsong and the sunrise and watch the mist rising in the valley below. Cameras don’t count as modern technology though do they? I am allowed to take photographs, yes?

The Chateau de Losse on the River Vezere, Perigord, France

The Chateau de Losse on the River Vezere, Perigord, France

Peace & Quiet

Just because your are digitally disconnected (and I don’t mean you’ve lost your fingers) you shouldn’t expect a spiritual awakening. But even a couple of days off can be an intense experience. You should feel  refreshed, and not just because of the lack of contact with the outside world after all you’ve been in contact with a closer world, a world of the here and now.

All you have done is swap the contact with the remote with those close by. The most likely time to be distracted by mobile devices is when you’re with the people closest to you.

Whether you are cut out for the monk’s life or not, a digital detox is an ideal opportunity to take some time out and recharge.

A few days digital-free and a few days off-grid and you’ll be ready to re-join the mainstream once again.

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A Gabarre boat as we approach Roque-Gageac on the Dordogne river, Perigord, France

Another List

Here are some reasons to do a digital detox. Some ideas to motivate you if and when you do decide to switch off.

If you are fed-up of pinging demands, an overflowing inbox, and are feeling overloaded, a digital detox can be the way to achieve balance in the digital world. It might just give you the boost you need.

These are some reasons why a digital detox makes sense.

  • to take a step back from technology now and again.
  • to make space to think, connect to yourself, and connect to the people around you.
  • to break the incessant checking of phones, social media and email.
  • to find time to do whatever it is that you want time for. Read. walk, sing.
  • to find  time for yourself.
  • to catch up on sleep.
  • to break the cycle of being ‘always available’ or ‘on call’.
  • to be able to put your phone down.
  • to stay productive.
  • to slow things down.
  • to change your perspective about using technology.
  • to question and notice the ways you’ve become dependent on, reliant on or addicted to certain digital platforms or media. (It’s easier to observe your behaviour when you take a step back.)
  • to have dinner without a phone at the table.
  • to have conversations that meander and make you think and bring up questions that aren’t answered by google.
  • to form memories. To have experiences for the sake of the experience, not for the sake of posting.
  • to give your brain a break from digital processing. Information overload is a serious issue. Recharging is healthy.
  • so you can return to the digital with energy and fresh ideas.
  • because good ideas tend to appear while you’re switched off.
  •  to reclaim your time.
  • to find a balance that works for you.
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Rock formations in the village of Montfort beside the Dordogne river, Perigord, France

How to Digitally Detoxify

A digital detox is simply switching off all your digital devices (phones, tablets, laptops, computers, game devices and all the rest) for a certain length of time.

At least for 24 hours.

Prepare for your digital detox by considering these things:

Find Your Motivation

Remind yourself why you want to do a digital detox. Is it to recharge your batteries? Do you want more thinking time? Or to spend extra time with family and friends?

Find Your Time

Choose a time for your digital detox that is realistic. Weekends and holidays are best. Tell anyone you need to that you’ll be away from your email and phone. Perhaps you should announce on social media that you will be offline for a while.

Make some plans

Plan enjoyable activities for your switched off time. Try cooking, walking, or spending time with friends and family. Pick up a neglected hobby or spend time reading. Choose to explore where you live in or somewhere new. Spending time in nature or try outdoor activities and sports.

Enjoy the Time

During a digital detox, there tends to be a feeling of having plenty of time (rather than rushing against time). You may well sleep better, think more clearly and more deeply, and feel re-energised. Enjoy the change and notice your reaction to not being on.

The Digital Return

The return to the digital world can be overwhelming: a huge pile of information and multiple demands. Use the perspective gained from the detox and redefine what is urgent, what is important, and what doesn’t even need to be done. Unsubscribe to any email lists you no longer need. Try new behaviours, such as checking email or social media less frequently.

Repeat & Reach for the Off Button

A digital detox needn’t be a one-off experience. Plan your next digital detox. Try a longer time off, or try making a digital detox a regular part of your week. Once you’ve done so you’ll probably be reaching for the off button again.

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