Recently I have had an increased awareness of the reliance I have on the Internet, in so many parts of my life. Now… as an online entrepreneur I recognise the huge benefit’s of the information era. Without it this blog wouldn’t reach a global audience, nor could I run a part-time online business around my full-time job, and I wouldn’t be able to connect with my international friends … the list can continue on and on.
However, I have a feeling that the technology revolution is being abused by using it for literally everything! Let’s think… how many times have you said or done the following in the last two weeks.
- ‘Oh I don’t know… I’ll just Google it’
- Scrolling mindlessly through Facebook
- Watching cat videos for a quick giggle
- ‘I wonder how many likes I’ve got’
- Spying on celebrities lives
- Pinning every home DIY idea on Pinterest
- The list of unhealthy habits can continue
So the first step is awareness, the second is doing something about it! As we had a holiday to Fuerteventura booked I thought this would be the perfect time to do a digital detox, escape from being constantly connected in order to break the habit and create a healthy relationship to WiFi.
As I arrived at Manchester airport, the aeroplane mode was switched on and stayed on for a whole 7 days. I guess I best tell you what I found.
The time. How many of us go to look at our phone purely for the time? But then get distracted by the numerous notifications on our home screen, which you just ‘have’ to read. To then 10 minutes later forget you only actually meant to check the time. The old school invention of the watch… literally is timeless. Putting my beautiful Olivia Burton watch on this holiday (a gift from my best friend Hannah) helped me not reach for my smart phone when all I needed was the time.
Often there are times on holiday when you simply are doing nothing. This is a rarity in our hectic corporate lives where there is a need to be doing something every second of every day in order to get everything done, in the limited 24 hours a day we have. So I found the time I was most likely to pick up my phone was in times of nothing-ness (I don’t want to use the word boredom as that word has negative connotations which are holiday was not). My replacement for surfing the internet was reading. I took away with me two books The Compassionate Mind and Personality Plus which I thoroughly enjoyed. Sometimes I chose not to read and instead engaged in simple deep breathing mindfulness exercises to appreciate my surroundings.
With tired eyes on the plane journeys the mister leant me his Beatz headphones to listen to the audio books I had downloaded on my iPod (and to drown out the sound of screaming children). In 8 hours of travelling I listened to ‘How to stop worrying and start living’ by Dale Carnegie and an inspiration talk by Nick Vujicic named ‘No arms no legs’ all without opening my eyes. Great time leverage there!
I was listening to a Ted Talk by Tania Mulry named ‘Need a digital detox?‘ who said it’s been discovered that the feeling you get when you feel your phone vibrating in your pocket and it’s not even there is the same feeling amputee’s get when they lose a limb. The Phantom Limb Syndrome we experience shows how we see our phones as an extension to our body!
Since returning the UK and plugging back into the world, I have questioned myself much more and noticed the technology addiction all around me. There is genuinely nothing worse than looking around in a restaurant to see a family of four at the table with children being kept quiet with over stimulating iPad apps and the parents sat staring mindlessly at the phone probably posting about the ‘incredible time’ there having not talking to one another.
I have always been known as the ‘difficult to get hold of’ person with phrases such as ‘what’s the point in having a phone if you don’t answer it’ being thrown at me. But I like it that way… I tend not to drop everything in that instant moment to pick up a call as I value the task I’m doing more. If it’s an emergency a text will follow to say ‘ring me asap’ to which I can prioritise that over my task. Often people are offended if you don’t reply instantly when you are ‘Online’ or ‘Active’ however, these streams are used for my business and I’m technically working.
I worry about people behind closed doors. Your own lives and your 800 Facebook ‘friends’ lives look so perfect only highlighting the best bits. However, this gives a distorted view of what life is like, after all without the occasional low you wouldn’t notice the highs. Although I definitely do not want to be exposed to negative moaning status’ I just worry about those who are having a rainy day when everyone else is enjoying the sunshine. We can often feel so alone, like digital hermits, holding out for so many ‘Likes’ to increase your confidence and self-esteem – it can be so dangerous to our mental health. I find it interesting that even Steve Jobs set strict limits on his children’s gadget time. The creator himself obviously see’s the hidden dangers too.
So what can you do to get the most out of technology without it taking over your life:
- Use social media to organise seeing your friends and family in person – embrace face to face, belly to belly connections
- Take the time to appreciate the small moments around you
- Turn off your notifications so you’re not constantly interrupted – Multi-tasking is a myth!
- Have a purpose for your phone visit – get in and get out!
- Set limits for checking in with your social media streams so you don’t get trapped scrolling for hours.
- Leave your phone in your handbag, another room or leave it behind – give it a go!
- Wear your watch so you don’t have extra temptations when looking at your phone purely for the time.
- Try a filter free one shot only instagram picture
- Unplug an hour before bedtime to help you get a better nights sleep
- Use aeroplane mode when you need time to focus
- Create a self-care ideas list to work your way through when your bored
- When you are posting and commenting add value to people’s lives
‘Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you’ – Anne Lamott
Go the Distance
In the wake of the atrocity in Manchester last week, it seemed like the best thing to do was to escape to the countryside. As the mister lives in the vicinity of the terrorist attacks, it all of a sudden felt so close to home. Before I continue I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims and to the emergency services for sheer bravery in the face of danger. Sadly, I’m writing this blog as the news of yet another attack on our country has arose, this time at the London Bridge. There are no words that anyone can say to take the sadness away or turn back time but I hope the stories of kindness, bravery and humanity from the majority of the United Kingdom will shed some light in the darkness we are currently faced with.
So we escaped to the country, another country in fact, South Wales in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Seen as the mister, is currently working on a placement in Caerleon (near Newport) I thought I would ‘go the distance’ four and a half hours to visit him on the bank holiday weekend. Of course I don’t travel light with a car full of camping gear for a 3 night stay at the Cwmdu campsite. Note: This campsite had great facilities, remarkable views and was a reasonable price! I was proud of our set up featuring the Outwell Carolina tent, matching carpet, electric hook up, table, deck chairs, gas stove, and a George Foreman grill for good measure. We had glorious sunshine and unbearable heat on our first evening while we made Chicken Kebabs overlooking the incredible views.
We had planned to tackle Pen-y-fan Mountain which has the highest peak in South Wales. We parked up at Pont-ar-daf car park and set off in the bleak weather with the knowledge that it would ‘brighten up’ as 3 weather forecasts promised. Unfortunately this was not the case, the rain did not stop and the winds picked up. We saw people under-dressed for hiking turn round and head back as they realised it was not going to be a leisurely stroll – but we ploughed on. We intended to do the circular route or Corn Du then Pen-y-fan. We reached the peak of Corn-du then scrambled up a rock face to the top of Pen-y-fan. I would love to say it was incredible views from the top but we couldn’t see a thing – just grey clouds.
We headed off the side of the mountain after a brief photoshoot to prove we got there! We just wanted to get back and eat our pack up in dryness. It was slippy all the way down but we were just happy we were getting down until we hit a very steep UP! This wasn’t what we anticipated but we went with it and headed UP thinking it will be a little UP and down then we will be back. The moral of the story is never trust women (or just a Chloe) with directions. I was so wrong it was unbelievable. We ended up on the top of what we think was Craig Cwm Sere, with little to no path, following some kind of foot prints while the wind literally was sweeping us off our feet. For a good hour we didn’t see one person up there and we both began to panic in silence. We both were having crazy thoughts. The mister later told me he was thinking about what he would say to my Mother to explain why I hadn’t made it off the mountain, I was worrying about either or us getting injured and having to call out the air ambulance. We held each others hands, communicating by hand squeezes, helping each other across the terrain until we found a cross roads of walkers!
Walkers, hikers, ramblers – whatever you want to call them are honestly great people to chat too. The morale was great even though these people were in the same position as us. They went out with the hope that it would ‘brighten up’ and were soaked through to the core. They were happy to help and try and figure out where we were in relation to where we needed to be… we headed further down with the promise of civilisation. Finally off the mountain side we found ourselves on a farm track with a small shelter – this was the first time we had stopped on our walk and we demolished our emergency Jamaica Ginger Cake (a must have in any rucksack!). At this point, I realised how much I was aching, my knees felt swollen, we were wet through and beginning to get colder and colder as the adrenaline dissipated. The mister sparked up a conversation with a small group nearby – who like us were hoping to enjoy the bank holiday sun. While looking at their map, there advice was to head-back over the mountains as the only way back to our car park – I won’t repeat what the mister said but we decided against that. We told them we were going to head towards the village and get a taxi as they told us we were on the complete wrong side of the mountain.
We set off for the next part of the journey and thought someone in the town will get us back. It was if the group had heard my thoughts when the young lad ran after us and said ‘Can we offer you a lift back to your car?’ Usually people, in particular Brits are too polite/proud to accept help from a stranger but our immediate response was ‘Yes Please!’ We couldn’t have been more grateful for these walkers coming to our rescue and saving us that afternoon. Chris, his father and friend gave us and our dirty boots a lift well out of their way in their awesome VW van because in their words they would ‘hope someone else would do the same for them’. To go back to what I mentioned at the beginning, these kinds of stories genuinely restore your faith in humanity. The mass majority of people on this earth are here to do good, to care and to give-back. Unfortunately, the minority gets the lime light but I believe the light should be shining on these kind souls to drive out their darkness.
We ended our time in the Brecon Beacons exploring the four waterfalls near Ystradfellte on a 5.5 mile energetic walk. Good footwear is a must especially when walking across slippy rocks for the perfect picture – you might go with a thud! The last waterfall was definitely worth the wait as you can actually walk behind the waterfall. This place definitely deserves the ‘hidden gems’ title.
I have often said there are so many beautiful places on our door steps to take advantage of and the Brecon Beacons is a place of true natural beauty. Another eventful and adventurous weekend away with the mister – making the most of every last second of the Bank Holiday weekend.
Go the distance in the Country!
Since September 2016, long distance dating which then led to a long distance relationship, became a huge part of my life. When the mister turned up on my doorstep to surprise me on my 24th birthday my world completely changed… for the better! The whole dynamics of my days, weeks and months shifted and I would like to share my experiences and advice along the way to making a long distance relationship work.
I feel that the most important thing is mindset (for all aspects of life in fact). If you think it will work, or you think it won’t, you’re probably right! With respect to long distance relationships, if you think ‘this is so hard, I miss him so much, I have to travel sooo far’ you are going to see your relationship as a sacrifice. A relationship should enhance your life not be a hindrance. Quite often in the ‘honeymoon’ stage of the relationship the distance is novel, new and exciting and therefore, can be tolerated. For many this feeling can wear off but you can maintain this honeymoon experience purely with a positive mindset.
The travel time, for me personally its a two hour journey without traffic and up to four when they decide to close the motorway on a Sunday night! For the mister, he has a four to six hour journey now his work placement is technically in a different country…. Wales! I make the most out of these journeys with podcasts, audio books and my favourite music playlist blasting out for a good old sing song. In our busy busy lives driving can actually become a therapeutic place to relax, enjoy the ride and have time to be alone with your own thoughts (positive ones only!). I have listened to numerous self care, personal development and business focused audios and even started to learn Spanish! Without the travel time I wouldn’t make the time for these activities that will make a difference to our lives now and in the future.
The working week can be hectic especially when you need to cram everything in including washing, ironing, and cleaning before you disappear for the weekend. Even though your long distance relationship is based on a weekend, you still need to make a commitment to time on a daily basis to catch up with one another. The beauty of a mobile phone ey! Even though we both have busy lives we know each others schedule to find the best times to catch one another. We used to have the same travel to work times so a morning hands-free call on the way to work was the best way to start my day. Even with a change in working hours, he now rings me during my morning self-care routine (blog coming soon on this). This again is a great way to start my day hearing him sing down the phone at 7.00 am.
Technology offers so many ways to feel closer no matter how distant you are. WhatsApp voice notes I particularly like as it gives a personal touch that a text message and emoji often cant portray. Video calls, again through WhatsApp are perfect for bed time. Balancing your phone on your bed side cabinet, in the perfect angle to make you feel like you are side by side is as close as it gets to the real thing. I have also noticed the quality of the conversation is much better too… as you can tell if their not listening, scrolling on Facebook or checking the football score as you speak…so it tends not to happen. I don’t believe in multi tasking … our brains can’t handle it and I much prefer to be in the present moment but I too am guilty of being distracted during these calls. Don’t do it …be present!
Skype dates are a new thing for us too… a great idea that we still haven’t tried. The mister had this great idea to get dressed up for our virtual dinner date, cook our own meals but sit at the table with the video call set up for a virtual date. I loved this idea and even poured some Schloer (it was a school night) and candle lit the table. Ready and waiting… he surprised me at my door step, it was Valentines day after all. As amazing as this surprise was I’m still waiting for our virtual date.
The relationship review… a concept a friend of mine introduced to me too at the time made me giggle. Sitting in the bath with no distractions while you talk through the positives and the room for improvement elements of your relationship was an interesting idea that we have adapted. When life gets stressful and too much we often sit back reflect and try find solutions to move forward. It may be that your finding that you never see your close friends for guys or girly nights out, or that the quality shopping time with your mum has disappeared and this is playing on your mind. Whatever it is, discuss it when together in the bath or on a long drive I think are the best places. Express how you feel and open the question up to your partner to suggest solutions… you will find that they are more than happy to support you and may be experiencing similar things.
A balanced life is important and often other aspects of your life will fall on a weekend. Instead of moaning and groaning at one another find a way for it to work for both of you. If I have to work on a weekend for a few hours, the mister will sign himself up for a free trial of a local gym and use their facilities for hours on end. We both make the most of this time. The mister also volunteers at a local community garden centre as a way to escape the corporate world which is extremely important to him. So what do I do… I come down to watch him at work, chill in the sun, with a cuppa and a brownie and actually write this blog!
There are many perks to having a long distance relationship. The majority of long distance relationships work on a ‘get your shit done working-week’ and ‘weekend romance’ schedule. It is amazing with a bit of organisation how much you can get done after your working day in preparation for a free weekend. This gives you quality time together, something that is often missed in the ‘normal’ relationship. You find yourself, dressing up and looking your best, soaking up each others presence and appreciating every small gesture in a compressed amount of time. You savour these moments, that can often go unnoticed, until the next weekend. Wherever you see a potential negative to a long distance relationship, turn it in a positive. Be grateful for the tough times that come your way as they will only make your relationship stronger. The patience, commitment and appreciation for one another that you will find in a long distance relationship will prepare you for the future when you eventually live under the same roof.
Go the distance in your relationships,