At the start of last week Damien and I returned home from a long weekend away with two of our friends. It was pretty much a chilled affair. We drank, we ate, we lounged in the sun and aside from the 60 mile bike ride that the guys did on the Saturday (the purpose of the trip in the first place), we didn’t really do much of anything else…and you know what? I really enjoyed it.
Many of my friends would be surprised to know that I didn’t even take my camera on this particular trip and in total I took about ten, rather candid (and certainly not Instagram worthy) iPhone photos. I put my out of office on and actually managed to block out all work related stuff for an entire four days!
Being the weekend before last and so much having happened since then, our little trip away now actually feels like it was ages ago and it’s funny because if you were to look at my social media, it’s as if it never happened. This makes me realise that I (and many of us) really do document so much of our lives online and even when we aren’t documenting our own goings on, we’re likely catching up on someone else’s. When I think back to our little trip the other week, I have such fond memories of the weekend away and although for once I may not have the beautifully captured images to show for it, it still happened and we still had a great time non the less. Whilst I love being able to capture, create and share moments online, for me the trip has been a reminder that it’s so important to also switch off from it all occasionally and here are a few reasons why.
To Help De-Stress
Modern technology and the invention of mobile phones and internet on the go have been brilliant in helping many aspects of our lives become more efficient. However on the flip side it has meant that we have become ever more reliant on technology, especially those like myself who use it as a large tool for their job. So for most people (myself included) our mobiles have become an extension of our right (or left) hand. Basically meaning we rarely ever get to fully switch off.
As a result an increasing amount of us are suffering from anxiety and stress related conditions. It’s hard to say technology in some ways doesn’t play a part. Everything is faster and we’re supposed to keep up and aside from that there is an ever growing pressure to always present our best selves online whilst having to look at everyone else’s. I don’t know about you but sometimes this can all get the better of me and I need a big fat time out. Whilst we obviously have to keep up with our work commitments and the social side of the internet can be fun, we do have to allow ourselves the time to occasionally step back and relax away from it all. Annndd breathe.
To Spend Quality Time With Loved Ones
I’ll hold my hands up and say I’m one of those people who will quite often have my phone out on the table when out for lunch or a coffee. It’s not that I’ll be on it constantly, however it’s sort of a (quite weird) comfort knowing that it’s there. Again going back to the topic of always being switch on, I feel I always need to be alert to check work related emails or respond to a call from my agency. Sometimes I hate it and my habit to check my emails has become an unhealthy compulsion (I kid you not I just checked on my phone then). I think it’s so important to try and live in the moment however and aside from my weird email checking habit, when it comes to spending time with loved ones I’m pretty good at keeping off social media. Unless of course I’m with a friend like L’Oréal, as we’ll quite happily have fun messing around filming each other being silly on insta stories or taking shots for the gram (you know how it is). With other friends however, it’s not always like that and so I will happily step away from the social media when handing out.
Quite frequently these days though I’ll be out and spot a couple or friends out together where one will be on their phone whilst the other stares into space. I guess for many of us it can be the excuse that it’s ‘work related’ although mostly when I see it I suspect it’s just mindless scrolling. If we think about it, if we seriously can’t spare an hour or two phone free to hang out with a friend, or enjoy date night with our other half, then maybe our work (or even online social) life is spilling over into real life a bit too much.
The Online World Can Become An Ecco Chamber
One thing I’ve found after returning home from trips where I’ve allowed myself to switch off is that I often return feeling really inspired. Now of course being out of my usual habitat can have a part to play in this, not to mention having time to relax and clear my mind. However I do find that when I spend too much time looking online for inspiration that I can wind up feeling less inspired than I did to start with. Everything starts to become the same and in the process my thoughts start to align with those ideas too. Now I’m not saying I’m ever able to be completely original because lets face it, there’s too much out there these days and likely anything you do, someone else has already done. But I do notice that as all of our interests, searches and likes are (quite creepily) logged with our online activity, we are constantly targeted with adverts, videos and images of thing we already like, so that we aren’t really seeing anything new. The same goes for news and political opinions but that’s a whole other discussion for another day.
Basically we get trapped in an ecco chamber and the reality is that the only way to get out of it is to switch off from the online world and go somewhere outside of our usual zone…but even then, are we really able to step out of the ecco chamber completely (hmmm, let’s not get too deep here). In a nutshell, before I digress any further, sometimes we need to get away from our online world in order to fill our minds with something completely and organically new.
Occasionally switching off can do wonders for the mind, relationships and life in general. Life online can be fun, an escape from real life and for some even a job. However just remember that although it may seem like it, you don’t have to be switched on all of the time and if you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or just like you need some quality time with the people in your real life, feel free to step back, switch off and take some time away from it all. 🙂
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