5 Benefits of Unplugging
“Cell phone use is permitted in meeting space, Raindance Pass Courtyard, Raindance Pass Foyer and guestrooms only. All guests are asked to adhere to this resort-wide policy.”
For many tech-savvy folks, Miraval’s policy on cell phone usage (Miraval Mode) might be enough to make us break into a cold sweat. The inability to pull out our phones to respond to text messages, scroll through Instagram photos, or indulge in entertaining video content whenever we please is a tough adjustment; and in a world where being tethered to the Internet and social media 24/7 has become the norm, going hours without checking for updates seems somewhat unsettling. However, there are plenty of benefits to switching to airplane mode occasionally – and here are five of them:
1. There’s no such thing as FOMO (fear of missing out).
Temporarily deactivating Facebook and Instagram means you’ll no longer find yourself inundated by pictures of your friends embarking on numerous travel adventures, celebrating incredible milestones, and chasing their dreams. While it’s great to see the people you love so happy, it can often lead to feelings of doubt, frustration, and inadequacy – especially when you start comparing your life to theirs. Thus, we recommend taking a break from photo-sharing sites; you’ll soon be too busy participating in activities that fill you with joy and purpose than worrying about playing catch-up with your peers.
2. Becoming more in tune with your surroundings and remembering all the little details.
Most of us have been there: You spot a beautiful sunset in the distance and your immediate instinct is to yank out your phone and snap a photo of it. While the desire to preserve this wondrous moment is perfectly understandable, it’s also nice sometimes just to sit back, relax, and let it soak into your memory. After all, no filter could ever capture the awe you experienced as the sun dipped below the horizon and bold streaks of orange and crimson spilled across the sky.
3. The powerful (offline) connections you’ll make.
Let’s face it: most of us would rather stare directly into blue light for hours than make eye contact with someone we barely know. Our phones serve as a crutch for when we’re feeling awkward and out of place in a social setting. Nevertheless, as convenient as digital communication is, interacting with people face-to-face without the frequent barrage of text alerts and email notification makes way for more meaningful, authentic conversations.
4. A state of calm.
Constant content consumption is distracting and can impede your mental performance, which poses a challenge to practicing true mindfulness. Just the mere presence of a phone is enough to overstimulate the senses! However, reducing any unnecessary noise can help you achieve stillness and clarity, so that you can reflect on the things that matter most to you and set intentions for your day. Another perk to powering down? Restricting your use of gadgets leads to a more restful sleep! According to Miraval Specialist & Exercise Physiologist, Andrew Wolf, “Restful deep sleep is created when our circadian rhythm stimulates the release of melatonin in co-ordination with having been awake for 14-16 hours. Screen generated blue light blocks the release of melatonin and therefore disrupt the process by which we repair and rebuild ourselves by disrupting natural sleep.”
5. It boosts creativity.
Suffering from writer’s block? Need fresh, innovative ideas for your next presentation? An electronic detox might be just what you need. Instead of relying on search engines for inspiration, give your overstimulated brain a breather and return to basics. Keep it fun and simple: Read a book; doodle on a sketchpad; scribble out a poem; strum that long-forgotten guitar. “If you can put the screen down and do some exercise you will start to produce a chemical called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor. This chemical drives your mental processes into the frontal cortex where advanced level executive problem solving and creativity really occur,” says Andrew Wolf. Reducing your Internet usage not only enhances your problem-solving skills (since you’re less apt to to turn to it for answers), but it also diminishes any bouts of boredom and fosters artistic growth.
Sure, unplugging completely isn’t feasible in today’s tech-driven society – but logging too many hours on handheld devices can take its toll on our physical and emotional well-being. So next time you find yourself eager to send a tweet right before bed, shuffle through Spotify during a run, or pull up a meme in the middle of a discussion, resist the urge. Instead, harness that energy and refocus it on your relationships, passion projects, and creating magic in the present (especially if you’re on vacation). You’ll feel more relaxed and balanced than ever!
By: Miraval Guest, New Jersey