It’s a beautiful Sunday morning – the birds are chirping, the sun is up, and you’re sitting on your couch sipping fresh coffee and scrolling through your phone.
You open the news. Death. Disaster. Famine.
You open Facebook. Injustice. Inequality. Some girl you went to high school with’s boyfriend is maybe possibly cheating on her and she’s publicly asking all of the internet for advice.
You open your text messages. Your best friend heard from her best friend that you told your coworker that you might skip out on the plans you made to help her pick out wedding decorations, and she demands an answer. Now.
You open your email… nope. Just nope. Not today.
Psychology Today has even coined a new mental disorder called Electronic Screen Syndrome.
Sometimes, electronics seem unavoidable. But committing yourself to a digital detox and powering through can do incredible things for your mood, outlook, and even sense of self.
Why You Need A Digital Detox In Costa Rica
Photo credit: davitydave
The modern world is designed to make us afraid.
They do it on purpose – fear sells. It can be the most powerful emotion in driving action, which is why politicians and advertisers alike use it. Billboards, commercials, and campaigns surround us 24/7, and most of them are drawing on your fears, even if you don’t realize it.
Photo credit: MsSaraKelly
Just look at this excerpt from a Salesforce training manual:
The insurance industry has long known the value of selling fear (or more correctly, using fear to sell). More than one insurance agent has said, “What would happen to your family Mr. Prospect if, God forbid, you should pass away prematurely”?
Fear is often used as a sales tool, albeit in a subtle way. Have you ever seen the Michelin tire TV ad, the one with the baby floating around in the tire? Did you think they were selling babies there? Of course not. What they are doing is using fear (the fear of losing a loved one) to sell tires. After all, you wouldn’t want your family driving on inferior tires that may blow and cause an accident.
This is Sales 101 right here. If you start paying attention, you’ll find this tactic everywhere.
Mean World Syndrome
There’s even a name for this psychological process. It’s called “mean world syndrome”, and it’s the phenomenon wherein the content of mass media makes us feel like the world is far more hostile than it actually is.
And get this!
Studies have actually shown that there is a direct correlation between the amount of television a person watches and how much they fear the world in general.
Surprising, and somehow not, at the same time.
Media is filled with violence, war, and injustice at every turn. And with the advent of texting and social media, it has the power to follow us around everywhere we go. Being inundated with all of this negativity, while so many positive stories aren’t being told, will convince you that the world outside your bubble is a terrible place, especially if you haven’t gone out and experienced it for yourself.
Connecting Deeper by Disconnecting Your Electronics
We seem to think that “relaxing” and “unwinding” means watching television or playing video games or drinking alcohol, but escaping your reality to plug into a virtual one, if not done in moderation, actually leads to more anxiety.
Spending too much time in the world of your electronics can cloud your thinking and ability to see the world clearly. Anxiety and fear are a product of clouded thinking, and by refusing to see the world around us, we are actually strengthening those anxieties.
The answer to solving our fears, as the age old advice says, is to confront them. True relaxation and peace actually means connecting deeper and more broadly with our surroundings.
This is why yoga and meditation are so powerful in calming anxiety. They are all about learning how to connect on a more profound level with what’s immediately in front of you: the sounds, the people, the present moment.
Pairing a Digital Detox with Travel
Despite what a scroll through your newsfeed might have you think, the world is safer now than ever. And there’s data to prove it.
Ignorance breeds fear, and our lack of knowledge about the outside world combined with a media that is overwhelmingly based on fear is what makes us assume the rest of the world is inherently dangerous. But first-hand experience shows you how silly that assumption is.
In fact, according to the global peace index, 102 countries are safer than the United States.
Traveling to countries like Costa Rica, Italy, and Bangladesh are all safer than staying at home.
When you feel overwhelmed by all the danger and badness in the world, don’t run from it – FIGHT IT!
No, I don’t mean you should take up arms and go to war. Fight the bad in the world by getting out there and seeing the good. But you’re going to have to shut off your electronics momentarily to do this!
Travel paired with digital detox is the most powerful way to reorient yourself and see more clearly, a task that can be hard to do while surrounded by familiarity.
What Rick Steves said after the Paris attacks in 2015 can be applied to a lot of the violence and negativity in the world. “It remains my firmly held belief that the best way for Americans to fight terrorism is to keep on traveling.”
This applies to anything in the world that threatens to scare you away from experiencing your life to its fullest.
Get out there and see something new. If you’re feeling anxiety, remove yourself from your current situation and discover a whole new way of life. I’m reminded of my favorite T.S. Eliot poem:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Check out our yoga retreats to disconnect from your gadgets and reconnect with yourself in the truly spectacular setting of Costa Rica.
About The Author
Elizabeth Aldrich is a lifelong traveler and freelance writer specializing in arts and entertainment, travel and lifestyle, and finance and business writing. She’s written for outlets as varied as Rawckus Music & Arts Magazine, Credit Karma, Sweden Tips, and Engadget. Elizabeth has a knack (read: obsession) for finding the best deals, travel hacks, and hidden gems everywhere she goes, which she blogs about. You can find her playing the urban romantic in NYC, downing Stumptown coffee in her hometown of Portland, OR, or retreating from the madness in the rain forests of Costa Rica. To see more of her work, visit her at www.elizabethaldrich.com.