Picture yourself lying on a beach in the tropics: the clear blue skies, the warm sand between your toes, the cool, soothing fresh air; the sound of the waves rising and falling along the beach front. Sounds relaxing, doesn’t it?
Now, maintaining the same setting, imagine your phone ringing nonstop, responding to emails on your computer, or even scrolling through social media with no apparent purpose. Doesn’t sound as relaxing, does it? Whether you are on vacation or at home after a long work week, it is important to find ways to relax, or disconnect, from the distractions that surround you.
Recently, I ventured to a local beach one beautiful afternoon to relax and clear my racing mind. I brought the essentials: a blanket, a book, a light snack, and of course, my cell phone to capture it all. As I parked facing the beach, I sat and reflected for just a moment. What came to mind was, “I don’t need my phone.”
I don’t need my phone… because people have seen the beach before. No need to capture the perfect Instagram post, Snapchat, Marco Polo message or Facebook story. With technology being such a major part of our lives, it felt strange leaving my phone behind. “What if someone calls? What if I miss something? What’s the score of the game?” I thought to myself, but all that went away as soon as my toes sank into the sand. I was not expecting any important calls, the score of the game was not life or death, and I felt at peace laying on the beach with the birds and the waves, no phone to distract me from the gorgeous setting.
Ultimately, this trip was for self-care: a chance to clear my mind and relax in a peaceful environment. Self-care in it and of itself allows you to clear your mind of worry and be in the moment – to enjoy what you are doing. Disconnecting from the outside world by leaving the phone behind added new benefits that I never once considered. According to Vineetha Reddy, a health and wellness adviser, too much cell phone use leads to sleep disturbances, relationship stress, depression, and reduced productivity and attention. Not only is too much cell phone use a form of distraction, but it is also damaging to our mental health.
Try leaving your cell phone in your bedroom and take a seat in your living room. Whether you are on a couch, a chair, or even the floor, get into a comfortable position. Start by taking five deep breaths: in through your nose, out through your mouth, focusing on each as its own unique action. On each inhale, feel your stomach fill up with air, almost like you are filling up a balloon. On each exhale, feel the air flowing out of your body, like you are releasing any tension or unwanted stress from your body. Feel what is going on with your body when you go through this breathing exercise. Assess how you feel: Are you more relaxed? How was it being away from your phone? Initially, it may seem stressful being away from your phone, but see how long you can separate yourself from your phone. Each day, try and take one extra breath, and see how things change.
I do not suggest you disconnect from the world when you are expecting an important phone call, but if you are not and have some free time to yourself, give it a try. Leave your phone inside and go sit in your backyard on a beautiful day. Turn your phone off and leave it on your bag, or better yet, leave it in your room on vacation. Sit in a relaxing position, and take a few deep breaths and let the moment sink in. Clear your mind, just breathe, disconnect from the world, and live in the moment.