Camilla Elden spends several hours a day online, staying in touch with her many social media contacts – both the ones in her personal life and those she’s developed in her job overseeing digital communications at an Oslo-based international nutritional supplement company. So for her, the thought of completely unplugging from the internet during a three-day sailing getaway was a prospect even more daunting than it would be for most others.
“Initially I signed up for the trip because I’m always on the lookout for new adventures, and this felt like a great idea. I hadn’t actually realized just how disconnected we would be; it turned out to be a pleasant surprise,” Elden says.
The upshot? “I was surprised at how easy it was to be without my phone, and how quickly I adjusted. I don’t think I’d ever been on a trip where I haven’t spent lots of time looking at my mobile for one reason or another. As something of an influencer in my field, I sit down and document everything, everywhere I go, so this was a big contrast to other trips I’ve been on.”
When Camilla and her small group of fellow travelers weren’t actively involved in sailing the coastal region of northern Norway, their focus turned to a series of pre-planned activities, such as fishing and hiking. This variety was vital to the success of the trip, according to Elden.
“It was perfect, because there was always lots to do. I think it would have been much harder otherwise – if I’m logged off but don’t have anything to do, I can get even more stressed. You come to realize what an easy habit it is just to pick up your phone the minute you’re not busy doing something.” With that opportunity no longer at hand, she took advantage of being more “in the moment.”
If you speak to anyone who has been on a retreat like this, terms such as “being present” and the afore-mentioned “in the moment” pop up continually. Elden is no exception, but she came to other realizations, too.
“A guy on the boat one day said, ‘I never quite understood how much time we have during the day. When you’re logged off and unstressed, you realize the day actually has a lot of hours and you can fill it up with a lot of things,’” Elden recalls with a smile.
Those who go on digital retreats tend to fall into two categories. There are the ones who simply want to detox – that’s a trend today, not unlike staying away from alcohol for a month. And then there’s that other group, looking to change their habits for the long haul. Elden falls somewhere in between.
“Like many others in the group, I thought it would be good to break away from my normal lifestyle. My initial motivation was to focus on the adventure aspect, and to come away with treasured memories. But the longer the trip went on, the more I concentrated on the general positive experience and a desire to set myself new rules going forward.”
So when she returned home, she installed an app in her phone that tracks the hours she spends online. Now she sets a daily limit for herself, “and if I go over it I get a warning. And since one of the big lessons I took from the trip was that I slept like a baby (!), I’ve also started a new routine, having no screen time one hour before I go to bed at night.”
Published: December 18, 2018