In the world of mental health and holistic wellness, the one thing we constantly hear about is to disconnect regularly, so we can reconnect. How much do we disconnect? With whom? Until when? What does the lingo “disconnect to reconnect” really mean? Are we all meant to disappear for a few days and expected to re-emerge with renewed energy? Is healing only linear? Unconscious disconnecting can do more damage than good to your relationships. Why don’t we hear about intentional disconnecting, which can be powerful?
What does it mean to disconnect to reconnect?
During our travels last year to Costa Rica, we met someone who chose to spend two weeks at an exclusive, rustic campsite with no access to electricity or the Internet. The experience was magical for them and shifted many things. This was a person in a high corporate job, so the disconnect from the office emails and meetings fueled their creativity. I have friends who have done Vipassana Meditation courses (Buddhist form of meditation) and emerged with calm in their hearts and clarity in their minds. The 10 days of solitary confinement was scary at first — the human mind can be such a dark place, filled with fear and anxiety about things we have no control over. But slowly, the meditation transformed their relationship with anxiety and improved their sleep. I sit in awe of these stories and experiences. More power to the people who make these decisions to find themselves and stick to them. I am more than happy to listen to them, but I don’t think that we all need to “hide” from the world to see traces of ourselves again.
Intentional disconnect can nourish your mental health
I love what I do. As an author, speaker, and Ayurveda coach, helping others thrive on their terms gives me a high. When my clients share stories of their healing or mindset shift or relationships flourishing or careers thriving, I feel sheer joy and gratitude. Having said that, just because I enjoy what I do … doesn’t mean I work to a point of burnout or exhaustion. I have systems in place that allow me to pause daily, so I can replenish myself. I love lifting weights, practicing yoga asanas, and going on hikes, These activities create space for me to think without actually making the effort. Sometimes, the downtime could mean sitting in one place. Most importantly, I have habits around phone usage and email responses. No phones during movement. No phones during mealtimes. No phones during family time. These small chunks of me-time everyday ensures that I don’t show up depleted to life, meetings, work, relationships, or vacations. I don’t need to wait for vacations to rest.
I have written about the 12-day trip my husband and I took to towns and villages in Newfoundland, Canada. The place is breathtakingly beautiful, and we spent a lot of our time outdoors exploring the ocean and mountains. Whale-watching and puffin-spotting were high on our list of memorable experiences. After three days outdoors, doing some wild hikes, I logged into work on Monday morning and felt grounded. Meditation, pranayama, and yoga asanas to start the day followed by our family chai-time, work emails and client updates. I had a few messages from my clients sharing how the Ayurvedic therapies were working for their skin issues and sleep challenges. I told them I was traveling and would schedule a call once back in town, but I was glad to hear from them. I am a professional but very aware that I don’t work in the ER department of a hospital. Meaning there is no life-or-death situation in my line of work. But staying in touch helps keep people’s anxiety at bay and makes them feel visible.
Staying connected with my loved ones matters
My dad is in his mid-70s, and I don’t have a mom. My in-laws are getting older too. While I don’t live with the fear of losing them (None of us know what tomorrow holds), I don’t take their presence in my life or on this earth for granted. Part of my daily routine is chatting with my dad and mom-in-law. Disconnecting to reconnect would make me anxious if I don’t get to speak with them/communicate for two weeks. Both my dad and mom-in-law had minor health issues during our travels, and I was able to share Ayurvedic remedies with them. My dharma is healing, and how can I be there for strangers and not my own family? I am healthily attached to my close friends and a few of my cousins. I love being a part of their lives and knowing what they are up to, no matter where I am in the world. I know vice versa is also true. Why put that pressure to stay disconnected because the gurus think that’s the wise thing to do?
Honor your truth
Ayurveda reminds us to honor our innate nature and not follow the one-size-fits all mindset. My relationships are a big part of who I am. By the same token, I am good with setting boundaries and communicating when I need to, so there is rarely an expectation or confusion if I don’t respond. I will carve out “self-care” time every week when I stare into nothingness or get lost in the woods. When I tell people that I am going to be traveling, they themselves remind me to have a good time and take care of myself. They know that my “good time” doesn’t mean staying detached and disengaged. I can be available — for those who matter — a few hours every day. It makes me feel good. To love, to be loved, to care, to be cared for are pure gifts in this world, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
You know yourself best! We are all individuals with needs that are constantly evolving. If hiding in the forests or a meditation retreat or a ski resort is what helps you replenish, go for it. But, like me, if you like a more balanced approach to staying disconnected and living life, that’s an option, too. My suggestion would be not to do things that don’t feel true to you. Be more intentional with your choices. Don’t fight yourself because there is nothing more unsettling to your heart than betraying your own needs.
“Live the beautiful, authentic truth inside your heart.” ~ Amy Leigh Mercree
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