Holidays and vacations away, even ‘staycations’, are great opportunities to unwind, let go of work related stress, and reconnect with family and friends. That is, they are until the emails and text messages sound their pinging symphony and the temptation to “just check on this one thing” disrupts our peace and quiet.
There’s an image being passed around showing a group of friends at a campsite – the caption reads something along the lines of, “Anybody have plans to stare at their phones somewhere exciting this weekend?” It’s amusing, but sadly true. Far too often we go away (even just to the movies or out to dinner!) and spend far too much time staring at the little screen in our hand, worried that we’ll miss out on something important if we don’t check in. The 24/7 cycle catches us in its web.
This addiction is ruining our holidays; we aren’t really getting a break, and we aren’t tuning out and truly focusing on the places we are or the people we’re with. When you’re fixated on posting that pic of the kids playing onto your Facebook page, how much quality time are you actually spending with them? Do you really need your phone with you on a fishing trip?
So here’s a challenge. The next time you go on holidays, leave the electronics at home. The cell, the tablet, the laptop… Did the idea just make you gasp? The more impossible this seems, the more rewarding you will find it when you do it.
Of course, you may be bringing your phone along with you for safety’s sake, but you can still take steps to ensure that it won’t take over your time away. Here are some tips to help you truly disconnect and enjoy your time away:
Commit to not bringing your tablet and/or laptop. Leaving them behind is the best way to avoid the pull of playing just one more level of Candy Crush instead of taking a stroll around the area.
Turn off notifications. Switch your settings so that you won’t hear that “come hither” ping every time you get an email, text, or Twitter update.
Disconnect your work email account. Your personal email account too even! These can be added back once you’ve returned from vacation, but for the time being, revert your phone to nothing but a phone and you’ll remove the temptation to check in with the office. Go one step further and remove the game apps from your phone as well!
Only you know how deep your addiction runs and how strict you will need to be with yourself in order to fully disconnect and make your vacation, not your emails and social media, your top priority. If you feel you can’t do this alone, or find that you have an unhealthy attachment to your electronics, an EFAP counsellor can help. Contact your EFAP to talk about how a counsellor can support you and your goals.