A gluten-free blog about the life of a celiac in college (and now grad school). Full of personal stories about life with celiac disease and fibromyalgia; gluten free, vegan and paleo recipes; and product and restaurant reviews. Plus, reflects on body image, dating and more with a chronic illness!
It happened by accident actually. A few weekends ago, my family and I escaped to a cottage on San Onofre beach for the weekend. Sand, surf and some sun? What could go wrong? A few minutes into the stay, though, I realized the cottage lacked one "s": Safari, or, to be more broad, Internet access.
What's a blogger and social medialover to do? Well, as it turns out, have an amazingly relaxing weekend and learn five benefits of unplugging from the Internet for a few days.
Gorgeous sunset not included ;)
1. It gives you perspective.
There's been a lot of chatterin the blogosphere lately about what being a "successful" blogger entails. Is it getting the most Pinterest clicks? The most comments? Growing a Twitter empire so large it deserves its own zip code?
The fact is, partially thanks to the ease of tracking stats through Blogger or programs like Google Analytics, it's equally easy to become obsessed with numerical success. No Internet, no posting equals no internal analysis of why my gorgeous photo of smoothie bowl perfection only received 90 likes instead of the usual 150.
Snaps along the sand...
Because, as I walked along the ocean and scoured the rocks and shells, I realized something. Just like the main reward is the cathartic searching of shells and not the discovery of "prime" specimens, I value the act of writing my blog more than the stats it may bring.
2. It motivates you to focus on the future.
When Internet is available and typing, publishing, pinning and sharing are only a few clicks away, it's easy to get sucked into a "now" mentality. Why worry about the future or plan out a blogging schedule when you can actuallydo it right now?
The perfect place for contemplation...
When I couldn't write blog posts or use social media, though, I found my thoughts focusing instead on the future. What improvements do I want to make? What blog topics would be timely to publish soon? What will I change my blog's name to once I graduate from college in one semester?
Even if you don't write a blog, you could experience similar benefits. The "future" could be the the way you allot your time online, your career or even non-tech goals like running a marathon or spending more time with family and friends.
Mom and I!
3. It prevents burnout.
It's hard to escape from technology and the Internet nowadays. Even if you aren't actively cruising social media, phone notifications can ensure that you will soon!
As a result, you may not even realize how tiring the web can be until the bright blue color of social media sites start to make you want to simultaneously throw your computer across the room and tweet about your frustration. I certainly didn't think I was "tired" of blogging or Instagram scrolling...until I allowed myself to start and finish a 600-page Steven King novel without a single "ping" interrupting me.
In Dad's mind, a good view and mug can't hurt either!
Most people don't smash the sameworkout, devour the same meals or follow the exact same schedule each day for months on end without craving a change. (As a repeat-meal offender, I thank the culinary gods for the transforming properties of spices, sides and toppings!).
It makes sense, then, that we need similar variety - even fully unplugged weekends - into our online routines.
4. It breaks the "obligation" mentality.
Raise a (virtual) hand if you've ever gotten anxious about not scrolling to the end of your Facebook, Instagram or any other online account. Just me? I didn't think so. Even though we don't have any real "need" to reach the end of our feed, a special kind of satisfaction emerges when we do.
Social media < this view! (Photo creds to Dad!)
(And I'm sure, one day, social media will assign "medals" to those most diligent at keeping up with their accounts. If one doesn't already.)
I didn't blog, I didn'tFacebook, I didn't Instagram (besides the few moments I posted a photo online using my phone data to assure friends and family of our survival) for the weekend. My blog stats didn't plummet, nor did my Instagram account implode. I doubt yours would either.
I doubt it'll go up in flames either! ;)
5. Finally, cliche but true: you grow closer with the offline people in your life.
At home, my family is close but we have our nooks in the house and our own activities. My sis relaxes in the play room with her laptop, TV and video games. I chill in the kitchen with Netflix and the blog. And my parents often lounge in the living room with the TV or a good book.
One of our several bonfires!
Stuck in a tiny, 2-bedroom cottage with no Internet (but one TV), it was hard to escape family time. So we talked a lot, especially when warmed by a bonfire with a view of the ocean. We laughed at old movies (Indiana Jones from the 90s? It happened).
For once, we had no distractions and very few gadgets to separate us. And while we definitely enjoyed returning to our technology-enhanced alone time, for the weekend, it felt very nice.
I will admit that I'm not sure when my next "unplugged" weekend will be. Like most things that are good for you (vegetables, wisdom teeth removal, you name it!), they're easier to endure than initiate.
And a looooot of walks!
But I can say that I appreciated the accidentally unplugged weekend at the beach a few weeks ago - and I won't forget the calming lullaby of hearing the waves roll in as I sit on a warm sofa, reading a book.