As someone who considers themselves a connoisseur in the art of disconnecting from the digital world, it hasn’t always been that way.
I grew up playing outside until the streetlights came on, rollerblading up and down my driveaway and knocking on my neighbors’ doors asking if they wanted to play kickball. While I was cultivating this love for the outdoors, I was simultaneously watching the internet and technology take off.
As I entered my teenage years, I started replacing those outdoor adventures with spending hours on AIM every night, making websites on Geocities, and regularly reconfiguring my Myspace Top 8. I was infatuated with the internet and the endless possibilities it held. In my eyes, there was nothing that I couldn’t do or learn from simply inputting the right words into the search bar.
From there, I spent a lot of my formative years chronically online, comparing myself and my situations to those of friends, family, and strangers alike. It wasn’t until I intentionally decided to start healing my relationship with technology that I saw the true benefits of learning to put the phone down.
I feel like many people would agree when I say the benefits from what the world wide web has given us are unimaginable. But, like many other situations, two things can be true at once. While we can appreciate what being connected has allowed us to achieve, it’s important to experience life beyond the screens. Whether it’s for mental well-being, productivity, or simply reconnecting with the present moment, learning to disconnect is a skill worth developing.
Where do I start?
If you feel stuck, here are two things that helped me rediscover my love of disconnecting:
- Change Your Routine. Like any habit, cutting something out cold turkey isn’t necessarily sustainable. Replacing one habit with another is when you see long term success. For me, this was reigniting my love of the outdoors. I started hiking and backpacking with friends and family. Soon enough, I found myself craving the sunshine, independence, and connection with others that this new pursuit gave me. Redirecting my focus into this new hobby not only improved my physical health, but it provided me with a sense of fulfillment.
- Create Your Boundaries. This looks different for everyone and acknowledging this will help you not judge your own journey by what you see others doing. I’m not saying you need to take Netflix out of your nightly routine, but start where you feel comfortable. Even if it’s just making dinner plans with a friend and turning your phone on silent for those few hours, that’s a fantastic place to start. By consciously creating these boundaries, you allow yourself the chance to fully engage with the world around you or reach a goal you have.
The best advice I can give is to remind you that disconnecting is a practice. As with any practice, it is something that you improve with consistent effort, discipline, and patience. If you’re looking for a place to jumpstart your journey as you learn the art of disconnecting, Ravenwood Castle is the place to be. My favorite spot is our Observation Deck. Make sure you stop and rest to enjoy the views on your next visit!