Embracing simplicity // Digital sabbaticals


 "...if you don’t have the time to be slow, then you aren’t really living properly. You’re racing through life instead of living it. People worry about missing out on life if they slow down, but life is what’s happening right here, right now. As for steps to lead a slower life: Do less. Buy less. Consume less. Drive less. Unplug more. Walk more. Sleep more. Stop multitasking and do one thing at a time. Embed slow moments and rituals into your schedule".

Carl Honoré

Carl had me at 'embed slow moments and rituals into your schedule', obviously, but I love everything about this. You can read the full interview this quote was taken from here

As I have shared before, as attracted as I am to the idea, a 'slow life' can seem so unreachable at times. But small rituals throughout your day that cause you to slow down and be present are something far more achievable, even if just as a starting point to embracing simplicity. 

I share these thoughts on embracing simplicity and the art of slow not because it is something I do well. Quite the contrary, fast and busy seems to be my default setting, so I find I need to regularly read about and explore these concepts to help me stay on track towards a life of greater balance and intention.

As much as it has become a sign of social standing to constantly boast about how incredibly busy we are (I am sure we will look back and laugh at the ridiculousness of this in decades to come), I am acutely aware that busyness does not equate with happiness, productivity or even purpose. In fact we can actually busy ourselves with so many distractions that we miss the opportunities for what really matters. 

In consciously slowing down, even if just a little, we take back control of our lives rather than being slaves to obligation and mindlessly following the crowd. It can be freeing to step back and realise that we don't have to attend every social gathering we are invited to, our presence is not required on every social media platform, our kids don't need to do multiple extra-curricular activities and the world won't fall apart if we turn our phone off for a day.

Which leads me to the idea of a digital sabbatical.

Have you ever taken a digital sabbatical? It is essentially a break from technology - e-mails, social media, the internet. A chance to look up from our phones, overcome any FOMO tendencies, genuinely relax (as opposed to simply distracting ourselves) and heighten our experience of the real world around us.

Obviously, it helps to take a digital sabbatical when you are on holidays (unless your job doesn't require you to be online in any way) but even a technology break over the weekend can do us the world of good. I used to have phone-free Wednesdays (the 'weekend' for my shift-working family) and even just that 24 hour break can be enough to simplify our lives a little.

There needs to be no great preparation, but if you are intending on going digitally off-grid for a substantial amount of time it can help to set up an auto-reply on your e-mail, let those close to you know you'll be uncontactable (or let them know an alternate way to contact you if totally necessary) and, if you are having quite an extended sabbatical and you're a social media junkie, maybe briefly mention it online so no one sends the police to your home in your absence.

I took a week-long one last Summer and again in Winter and it really works for me. I find that it breaks the pattern of constantly checking-in with your phone so that when you do return to your online life there's a bit more balance. It also helps you become reacquainted with moments of nothingness. Moments when we are waiting are usually, for me at least, times when we quickly fill the space with some mindless scrolling. It is incredibly freeing to sit and just be alone with our thoughts and available to ponder. 

“The pondering heart is a thankful heart.” 
Todd Stocker

Tara x


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