I recently returned from my first real vacation in five years. And what I mean by real is that it wasn’t a “staycation” peppered with home improvement projects and trying to keep our teenager from getting too bored. And it wasn’t work related where we just added on a few days to make it feel like a vacation. This was a real vacation to a tropical location for an entire week. It was long over-due and well-deserved by each family member.
Before we left, all three of us took an oath to really make this count. We were going to do everything in our power to be as present as possible. To really appreciate and enjoy the opportunity presented to us through this break from reality. So, with a lot of discussion, hesitation, and a bit of anxiety, we agreed that this trip would be 100% tech-free. No phones, no computers for the entire week.
We spent time leading up to the trip setting expectations with others. We communicated with coworkers, clients, and family members that we would be unavailable via text, email, or phone for the duration. We distributed the phone number for the resort and instructed people to call the hotel should an emergency arise.
And guess what? Nothing bad happened. The world didn’t stop spinning. Work didn’t come crashing to a halt. There were no emergencies that couldn’t be handled by others. It was all fine. As a matter of fact, it was all better than fine.
The first 48 hours were a little challenging. I was a little anxious about not being available should someone need something. My husband felt like he had forgotten something (which he had because he was actually brave enough to leave his phone and computer at home). And our daughter had to learn to walk with her head and eyes up instead of staring down at her phone. We were a little off balance for a while.
But then we started to get the hang of it.
We read – a lot! We engaged in lively conversation. Not just among ourselves but (gasp) with other people around us. We met Billy from Hilton Head and a really fun group from Virginia Beach (one of which was originally from the neck of the woods where I grew up). We met a young couple from Charlotte and an older couple from Delaware. We met Archie from Australia and a lovely family from London.
We did yoga – and didn’t feel guilty about it. I almost took a nap one afternoon – and didn’t feel guilty about it!
I started to be more aware of my surroundings. I could hear waves crash, I could hear birds sing, I heard the highest-pitched grasshoppers I’ve ever heard before. I felt sun on my face and could taste the salt air. With more awareness came appreciation. And with more appreciation came less stress and guilt over not being accessible to anyone but my husband and daughter.
As the week came to a close, the typical grieving began. But then it stopped. I was sad to get back to reality, but I honestly felt refreshed and grateful and appreciative and happy. While I was sad it was over, it did not feel like the time flew by like it normally does. I fully enjoyed every minute of our time away and feel we reaped full benefits because of our intention to be present throughout.
So, what did a learn from unplugging?
I learned that no one will die on the table if I’m not there. People are capable of taking care of themselves if I’m not there to do it and problems will get solved even if I’m not there to solve them. I learned that quiet can be glorious. I learned that I can be okay with myself by myself. I learned that my family has a lot of conversation material. I learned that I can kick my daughter’s butt at ping pong and my husband can kick my butt at pool. I received a deeper appreciation of just how wonderful of a life and family I truly have. And I learned that unplugging is one of the best ways to recharge.
I challenge you to find time to cut out the noise. Whether you have a vacation coming up or just a few days at home. Make the intention to unplug so that you can recharge. The benefits are endless.