Recapping my Much Needed Week Long Vacation & Digital Detox

Do you ever go away on a trip only to come home and feel like you are in more need of a vacation than before you even left? This summer has been a busy one; between the work trips, new projects I’ve been working on, and the flood of personal weddings and celebrations I’ve had, it feels like it’s been very go-go-go. While I am fortunate enough to escape the hustle and bustle of NYC on the weekends and spend time at my parent’s house in the Jersey Shore (my happy place), my time at the beach doesn’t always feel like “vacation”. One of the perks of being your own boss is the ability to work, for the most part, from wherever you see fit. While this has been a true blessing, and has allowed to me beat traffic like never before and add on days in different cities when traveling, it also permits traits of mine that I am constantly working on: setting boundaries and actually relaxing. Personally, my life has really just become a slew of working from different locations. When I used to work in Sales & Trading there was no work to be done once I left the office and I was allowed to officially un-plug from my job with every weekend and trip I took; it was freaking glorious and something I absolutely took for granted. Now, no matter the day, I find myself continuously working on different projects, brainstorming, or responding to emails. I, unfortunately, have become a bit of a slave to my work. I’m grateful that I love what I do and realize that has all been personally implemented (there is no one to blame but myself), but I was feeling some burn-out effects. Considering I hadn’t taken more than two full days off of work since I began this job just about a year and a half ago, I knew it was time for a real vacation. Not a few days at the beach where I’m still waking up at 6:00AM and working for the first few hours of the day, but a true, relaxing, time.

Now, before I dive deeper into all of this, let me state that I 110% realize how privileged this all is and I am eternally grateful for every aspect of this opportunity. I am fortunate enough to have the means that allow me to vacation, parents who have a home that I can crash at, a job that I’m able to take time off from, no responsibilities that require constant attention (aka kids), and a life where the aforementioned stressors & anxiety triggers are not as intense as some others. Trust me, I get it, and I am really fucking grateful of it all and acknowledge that every damn day. Now, back to what led me to totally unplug for a week and what I learned…

I decided to do something I had never done before and create some really strict boundaries for myself and finally value my personal time the way I value others. I carved out a week in my calendar to make sure I had no open-ended projects, deadlines, or meetings, and decided that I was going to fully unplug for 7 days. I set the criteria for myself that I would not set any alarms or make any plans (even workouts), I would put on an auto-reply and not check my email once, and I would not log on to any form of social media. Hell, I took it one step further, and decided that I would even go off the grid for personal phone use. I love my friends and family, but given that so much of my job is spent on my phone, even the personal notifications can overwhelm me sometimes. My computer and phone were placed in the drawer, and it was time to enjoy a true vacation. After just two days of this, it felt like I had been on vacation for a month. It is incredible how slow time moves when you are actually present and not filling it will endless scrolling or notifications. So, what did I learn?

  • Being bored is a normal and necessary feeling. In today’s world we never allow ourselves to actually be bored any more. There is always a need to fill that time or space with more work, more TV shows, and more mindless scrolling. Think about it: when you notice a lull in your day or a break in the action, are you grabbing your phone to open social media apps without even thinking about it? I sure as hell was. Turns out that being bored is where a lot of creativity stems from; it allows your brain to explore, fantasize, and imagine.

  • Mornings are a heck of a lot more enjoyable when focusing on your own life vs consuming everyone else’s. Are you someone that opens Instagram and begins scrolling the second you wake up? I’ve been there. Even though I’ve tried to instill boundaries and rules for myself, I still sometimes find myself in the Instagram black hole early in the mornings. As I crawl my way out of it, I consistently realize that I never actually enjoy that time spent in the morning once it is over. When I consume so much information on everyone else’s lives it prevents me from focusing on my own.

  • Emails do not need to be responded to immediately (at least in my job). I come from a line of work that was so instantaneous and required instant response in order to not miss a trade. While it was necessary for that role, it is not necessary for my current job. Emails do not need to be dealt with immediately as they arrive, and the same goes for personal text messages. I am so hardwired for immediate response that I often times find myself consumed by the flood of notifications instead of getting the necessary task at hand done.

  • Eating meals without technology is extremely more enjoyable. This is a no-brainer, but put down your phone while you’re eating! Take the time to appreciate and enjoy your food and actually acknowledge the bites you are taking.

  • Not everything needs to be “for the ‘gram”. Often times I find myself enjoying a moment (whether alone, with friends, or with family) and reaching for my phone to “capture” this scene and share it on my Instagram. While there are definitely things I want to share on my account, not everything needs to be captured in this manner. Some things are better enjoyed for my own eyes rather than my camera’s.

  • I want to share less, but of more importance. Sometimes I look back on my stories from the prior day and realize that so much was put up there haphazardly without any information of importance attached to it. I still want to actively share my life with my audience, but I want it to have more meaning attached to it. Since I am encouraging everyone to spend less time aimlessly scrolling, I want them to feel as if they learned something when consuming my content.

  • I miss my community. I seriously missed you all! One of my favorite things about my new job is the ability to connect with such an incredibly inspiring, knowledgeable, and bad-ass group of people on my account. I sincerely missed that.

So, now that I’m back in the grind of things and facing the reality of my inbox, how do I feel? Fucking refreshed. I never knew I needed this vacation so badly, but it was absolutely everything I could’ve asked for and more. It allowed me to truly relax, read more than I have all summer, let my mind wander, and be truly present. Not that I am one to preach about things, but this is something that I really encourage everyone trying. I fully understand that a week is not doable for many, but this can be practiced for even a day or two. Hell, it doesn’t even necessarily need to take part in a destination of sorts, it can be in your own home! If you are feeling like you need a reset or this type of rejuvenation, here are my tips:

  1. Set your boundaries. They don’t have to be intense as mine were, but figure out what is “off-limits” for you personally. Tell the people of importance that you will be doing this and prepare your workload so that you are not ignoring responsibilities.

  2. Unplug from social media. This is the one of importance that I really recommend. Not only does taking the time off of consuming everyone else’s content open brain space for other things, but you also won’t find yourself feeling the need to constantly update everyone on whatever trip you’re on.

  3. Do not set an agenda. Allow yourself to go with the flow and do, or eat, whatever you feel like doing in that moment.

  4. Grab a journal and some good books. Journaling has been huge for me over the past year or so, but was a great tool to have during this time as there were plenty of thoughts that appeared during my boredom that I wanted to explore. Reading is a pastime of mine that I love, but somehow convince myself I “don’t have time for”. You better believe I finished two books and plan to keep this hobby alive moving forward.

  5. Without the unnecessary scrolling, take note of how much time you actually have. Do you find yourself complaining about how “busy you are” and how you “wish there were more hours in a day?”. Same. Every, damn, day. Turns out, when I’m not aimlessly scrolling on social media and barely even paying attention to the content I’m consuming, there is a lot more time in a day!

  6. Take note of how you feel. This is a great time to assess how certain aspects of your life that have become so normalized and part of your routine make you feel. If you are thoroughly enjoying some of these boundaries, maybe you set them in your everyday life. If you are really missing aspects of your regular life, take note of those and focus more on them after this vacation.

  7. Get out of your head and enjoy yourself! There is no time like the present.

If this piece inspired you to set up a digital-detox of your own, I would love to hear your takeaways! Have fun and enjoy every second.