"No selfies, just healthies!" The motto on the lips of those who attend the Unplugged Retreat in an attempt to switch off from the intensity of the world around us, take time and just have a moment chill out without distraction.
The idea of a digital detox is something I've discussed in this post on the blog before. As I become more and more ingrained in the world of social media whilst doing what I do on a daily basis, it's also quite honestly something that starts to have more of a growing appeal to me and I'm pretty sure quite a few people around me too. Even though we may love our many devices - it wouldn't harm us to turn them off and stand aside just once in a while!
The venture is the brainchild of Lucy Pearson (left) and Vikki Bates (right) who upon meeting on a retreat themselves decided that this was something they wanted to bring to the masses. Identifying a real need in society for some unconnected downtime and a chance to get back some of the human connection we have lost by burying our heads in iPads, iPhones, laptops and the like. The Unplugged Weekend was born and today I'm really excited to share with you an interview with Lucy as she shares a little more with us about what inspired the project, her involvement and the future for the world of the digital detox.
So without further ado ...
Hi Lucy - Please could you tell us a little more about the Unplugged Weekend and how the idea came about?
Vikki and I met on a well being retreat in the Sahara last February. It was a really inspirational experience and one of the key take outs for both of us was the fact that we didn’t have our mobile phones (no signal in the desert!) It allowed us to fully relax and helped us to spend time rediscovering and learning about ourselves. We realised that there was nothing already out there providing an accessible solution for addressing our relationship with technology, so that’s when we came up with Unplugged Weekend.
What is it that drew you to get involved in this project?
Many people are becoming frustrated with constantly having to be switched on. There’s a lot of pressure to always be available and guilt attached to not being immediately responsive. The problem is that constant use of smartphones, tablets and laptops is habitual so it takes a certain amount of effort to break the cycle. Most people don’t even realise how much time they spend looking at screens, once they overcome this hurdle it’s easier to start making small changes to limit technology use and get the balance back in their lives.
What is it that you love most about this role?
I love seeing the social interaction without devices getting in the way and I love to see people rediscover their selves and their true passions. People have had very powerful experiences after coming on an Unplugged Weekend and some have made big changes such as switching careers. We deliver a digital detoxing workshop and over the weekend there are many conversations around guests’ use of devices. When people take a minute to assess how much time they actually spend looking at screens most are shocked and want to take steps to limit it. We give our guests tips for how to get the balance back in their lives - using devices most efficiently while allowing themselves time for other things too. Many people have made the decision to regularly incorporate digital detoxing into their lives after coming on an Unplugged Weekend.
You also do many other things including writing and editing, what is your background and how did you get into this type of work?
My background is in media production and writing. I got into this when Vikki and I decided to set up Unplugged Weekend in a carpet hut in the desert. It was the best decision I've ever made and I hope to help many people through guiding and advising ways for people to reconnect with themselves away from technology.
What are the challenges that you face in the work that you do?
Telling people that they should take a break from their devices is the most challenging thing. It really has become an addiction and most people are hooked. Once people have put their devices down they usually really enjoy the experience, but doing it is very hard for a lot of people.
Do you find it hard to remove yourself from your own digital devices when required on a daily basis?
I use devices for work but I make sure I'm balanced and try not to be switched on all the time. For example I take breaks, have digital detox days, don't work every day and don't worry about responding to emails immediately. It's very rare that something is actually urgent.
Does running your own business/working for yourself leave you much time for work-life balance – is this important to you and if so how do you achieve it?
Running Unplugged Weekend is time consuming but also very fulfilling and rewarding. I usually always take weekends off, I try and sleep for as long as my body tells me to and if I'm not feeling 100% I stop working.
What does the future hold for the Unplugged Weekend and what is it that you are most proud of and excited about?
I'm proud of the impact the experiences we have delivered have had on people's lives and ultimately their happiness. I'm excited to see how many more people's lives we can impact as the digital detox trend grows and people become more in need or tech relief.
A huge thank you to Lucy for agreeing to share more about her background and the world of the Unplugged Weekend. Whilst we all enjoy the many benefits that the internet, our devices and social media can allow we also have to remember that prolonged encounters with those flickering screens will do us no good in the long run. For our physical as well as our mental wellbeing it's important to take the time to relax away from the temptation and convenience of our electronic gadgets. Remember humans have a lot to offer us too! So next time you find yourself frantically checking Twitter or whatever your addiction of choice might be - put it down, step away and digitally detox yourself every now and then, you'll soon reap the benefits and be glad that you made the decision to do so.
The next Unplugged Retreat is due to run this Spring 2015. To receive regular updates connect with them on Facebook and check out the website.
Facebook: Unplugged Weekend
What are your thoughts on the digital detox process and idea? Is it something you feel you need and can see yourself taking the time to get involved in?