Digital Detox | It's Time to Power Down

After the umpteenth time of mindlessly tapping into Instagram and resuming the routine scroll, I felt really fed up with myself. I had never contemplated the idea that I was addicted to digital media, but the unsettling feeling that occurred after every social media binge pointed to an unhealthy and unchecked habit.

But it wasn't just social media. It was the 15+ podcasts I subscribe too, the countless newsletters that arrive in my inbox, the marketing blogs I read, and the breaking news notifications on my phone. Without me physically removing myself from technology or setting boundaries, there was always something to have my eyes on or my ears open too.

The signs were so clear. I was too plugged in, distracted, and overstimulated. Sound familiar? 
 

On the one hand, I can't deny the benefits and advantages of digital media. I can thank the internet for several friendships, work opportunities, the ability to keep in touch with family, and the option to work remotely. On the other hand, I also can't deny that I waste a lot of time on it, and it often leads to feeling of comparison and inadequacy. In an effort to understand the way digital media is changing our lifestyle and to discern my own behavior with it, I started looking into research.

 Photo by Ben Kolde - Unsplash

Photo by Ben Kolde - Unsplash

BBC published an article earlier this year breaking down what science suggests about the impact that platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram have on our mental well-being. According to the article, 3 billion people use social media and spend an average of 2 hours a day on it.
— BBC

Not surprisingly, I found arguments for and against the use of digital media, in addition to positive and negative effects it has on our relationships, careers, children and society. 

The pros of digital media -  the ability to connect with people all over the world (and quickly), real time news and information discovery, social learning and knowledge sharing, a sense of belonging and the ability to meet new people/reconnect with old friends.

The cons of digital media - privacy issues, harassment and cyber-bullying, information overwhelm (aka too much noise), distractions and procrastination, sleep disruption and a decline in face-to-face interaction.

This is a shallow sweep of some increasingly serious issues. According to BBC"Early studies suggest that, as well as making us more connected than ever before and giving us exhilarating hits of dopamine, social media usage is associated with symptoms of depression, anxiety and loneliness in some people." Even Facebook executives admitted that the platform may pose a risk to users’ emotional well-being.

*The research done so far isn't conclusive and rely heavily on self-reporting which can often be flawed. But the mental health community has become progressively concerned about the ramifications of digital technology on our lives. 

 Photo by Ben Kolde - Unsplash

Photo by Ben Kolde - Unsplash


My Digital Detox Experience

At the end of the day, I think it's our responsibility to be cognizant in how we use, and how often we're connected to digital media. I've taken a few days away from the screen this year, the best being a 3-day unplugged retreat called Lodged Out, and more recently a 3-day backpacking trip last month.

The backpacking trip truly came at the perfect time. Nature forced me off the internet and I felt no desire to check in or share anything via social media while I was on the trail. What I did feel was present and relieved. Relieved not to be "on", relieved to not feel the impulse to be on technology, and relieved to focus on one thing, and one thing only. 

As we drove back into the city, I switched my phone on and heard the familiar ding of messages and vibrations noting new e-mails and texts. I quickly spiraled down the list of apps....

and I began to feel restless. The feelings of FOMO returned.
 

That night I decided I should continue with the digital detox for my own sanity and spiritual health. I couldn't go completely rouge (and I never will be able to unless I change professions), but I could stay off social for a few days. And it was easier than I thought. The time away gave me space to examine my relationship with it, and how and why I use it.  

With it, and when used with intention, I'm so grateful for the benefits it offers. And without it, or used with purpose, I find I feel more creative, more productive, and more in tune my feelings. It was also kind of amazing to see how I used my time when I restricted my digital media use! Here's what I did instead.... 


  1. My Damn Work: I got through double the work in half the time because I was in the flow and without the distraction of social media. Time opened up in front of me as I focused on one task at a time and moved through my to-do list without disturbance. This point alone is motivation to get my phone on airplane mode fora majority of the day! 
     
  2. I Devoured Print: It's no secret I'm a book nerd, but instead of pinning food recipes or watching uh-mazing dance choreography videos on youtube (so guilty), I went to the library and checked out more books. Here are a few titles I've gone through in the last month. 
 Photo by Florencia Viadana - unsplash 

Photo by Florencia Viadana - unsplash 

3. I Took More Walks: Do you know what Beethoven, Dickens, Darwin and Steve Jobs have in common? They all had a daily ritual of getting outside for a long walk. This time away from their work allowed ideas to percolate in a relaxed and organic way.  I'm also a fan of walks, but would usually take my phone with me and listen to a podcast or call someone. I was proud to be multi-tasking but have realized that a walk sans technology gives my ideas energy to grow and gives me time to check in with myself. 

 Photo by Heather Schwartz - Unsplash

Photo by Heather Schwartz - Unsplash

4. I Found a Passion Project: While flipping through The New Bohemians book by Justina Blakeley, I read about collecting herbs and making smudge sticks. Less than an hour later I was searching for lavender plants and cutting rosemary from our garden. I've turned a corner of our basement into a home for my herbs and love to lose track of time working with shrubs and flowers.

5. I Organized & Simplified: One morning I got the urge to go through my s$1T and really clean house. And I mean throughly clean like take things out of the freezer and organize cupboards and scrub the toilet type clean. I went through my closets and parted with items I no longer used or needed. I packed up 8+ bags for donation and finished feeling light and accomplished. I'm far from being the minimalist I would like to be, but it's definitely a start. Plus, the less time I spend on social media, the less I find myself wanting new things. 

At the end of the day, one of my main takeaways was this - my relationship with digital media can be as healthy or as unhealthy as I make it. The world continues to turn without me (or anyone) posting comments or snapshots or liking photos or retweeting 25 things a day. Mind-blowing I know.
Recognizing this re-energized my "why," my motivation to share content that's relevant, useful, positive and light-hearted.

What about you? What's your relationship to digital and social media? Share how it's helped you or challenged you in the comments below. 

10 Ways to (Naturally) Beat the Heat In Summer

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  1. Choose Cooling Food & Drink: All food sources have their own qualities and can be categorized as either cooling, neutral/balanced or warming. Cooling foods clear heat and toxins, and help lower our core body temperature - super necessary as outside temps rise. Incorporate some of these foods into your summer meals to help stay cool and energized. 
  • Vegetables:  Cucumbers, radishes, celery, broccoli, asparagus, eggplant, spinach
  • Fruit: strawberries, mango, blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, pears, apples, banana, avocado 
  • Drinks: Coconut water, watermelon juice, water with fresh mint or cucumber 

Avoid Spicy or warming foods that will increase your core temperature; oatmeal, ginger, cinnamon, alcohol, sweet potatoes, chili, coffee. 

2. Breathe Like A Yogi: Summer heat can often bring emotions of irritation and anger (road rage x 10 anyone?) but a few rounds of Sitali breathing can help soothe you before you fly into a hot rage.
How To: Curl your tongue by pulling both sides upward toward the middle, then breathe in through your mouth. Hold your breath, and slowly exhale through your nose. Repeat five to 10 times. 

3. Use Peppermint Essential Oil: Peppermint contains menthol which provides a wonderful cooling sensation. Diffuse the oil throughout your house or make your own body mist by adding 3-5 drops of oil into a 2 oz spray bottle. You can also apply directly to the skin using a carrier oil to your wrists and temples. 

4. Know Your Bodies Pulse Points:  Pulse points are areas on the body where blood vessels are close to the surface of the skin. The neck and wrist are well known points, but the inner thighs and tops of the feet work too. Getting these areas into contact with cold water can help your internal temp cool down quickly. Next time you're feeling a hot flash, try wearing a damp bandana around your neck or running cold water over your feet. Better yet, if you're near a body of water, just jump in. 

5. Avoid Being in the Sun during Peak Hours: Schedule your workouts and activities in the morning or late afternoon and try and stay indoors (where you can hopefully relax in air conditioning) from 10am-3pm. 

6. Take a Siesta: I wasn't a nap person until a few years ago. Now, I love closing my eyes for 25 minutes around 2:30pm. I wake up refreshed and with new energy to finish out the work day.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes. I can definitely attest to it's benefits! 

7. Opt For Cotton: Natural fibers like cotton allow air to circulate around the body while synthetics like polyester trap heat against the skin. Opt for loose clothing and bedding made of cotton to help regulate your body temperature. 

8. Pack the Sun Kit: When you're going to be spending time outside, pack the necessities;  sunscreen, plenty of water, sunglasses to protect your eyes, aloe vera, and a wide-brimmed hat. Try and find shade to hang out in or bring physical shelter like an umbrella to shield yourself from sun rays. 

9. Coconut Oil Massage: Coconut oil has been used for centuries in Ayurveda (India's 5,00 year old traditional, natural system of medicine) because of its healing properties and positive effects on the body and mind. Keep a jar of coconut oil in the shower and after you've soaped up, massage your lower and upper body, and face for 3-5 minutes.Pat dry and your skin will feel amazing. 

10. Relax in a Passive Yoga Pose:  Reach for your yoga mat and a pillow, and unwind in legs up the wall pose.  How To: Lie on your back with your sit-bones as close to the wall as is comfortable. From there, extend your legs up the wall so that the backs of your legs are resting fully against it. Stay for 10 minutes. This posture is super calming for the nervous system and helps cultivate a quiet mind. 

What Teaching Yoga Has Taught Me

 Photo by Laura Hughes 

Photo by Laura Hughes 


*This was originally posted in May 2013. As I prepare to teach my first class since moving to Seattle, I found my old yoga books and journal entries that took me right back to teacher training and all the feelings related to actually having students! Years later the words still resonate. I still carry the fear of not being a good teacher, I still feel the pressure to create an ethereal experience for everyone, and I still possess a genuine enthusiasm to share the gift of connecting breath. 

If you live in the Seattle area and are interested in joining an outdoor-donation based yoga class, email me at leslie.schipper@gmail.com. 


I'm only two weeks into teaching and my head is spinning with new insight.

First of all, teaching is SUCH a humbling experience.  I'm am still dealing with the innate feeling that I need to be "perfect," that I need to create this mind blowing sequence & class that will leave everyone in tune with their breath, feeling heavenly in their body, and blissed out of their mind.

My saving mantra is: I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.

No one is expecting perfection, why should I?  Teaching yoga, (teaching anything really) forces you to swallow your ego and open to vulnerability.  I know that I don't know everything, (Google usually has my back though) but I do want students to trust in my ability to guide them through asana, pranayama, meditation, the whole kit and caboodle knowing they are in good hands.  Yoga is a personal experience, but people are paying both monetarily and with their time to unroll their mat and take my class.

That's where my own pressure comes in and my rational thoughts go out.  My mind says, "these people are taking 60 mins out of their busy schedule to unify their mind, body, and breath. And they are looking to me for a little bit of guidance."

Which leads me to my second insight... it's not about you.  No not you... It is about YOU, it's not about ME.  Yah, I'm there and doing most of the talking. I'm sequencing and enhancing and telling you where to put your leg and when to inhale and exhale. But really I'm just providing a safe space for you to practice and play on your mat.  I've been lucky enough to immerse myself in the practice and learn incredible amounts from my training, but there is always more to learn and I'm clueless as to how you are interpreting what I am saying. Yoga is a personal experience, it is about YOU.

Remembering that takes a little bit of the pressure off.  Which leads to my last insight... as long as I'm teaching for the right reasons, and speaking from an authentic place, I can walk away from the studio and class at peace. I don't need applause (why do people do that in hot yoga?) or students telling me the class was amazing (although encouragement and constructive feedback is always appreciated).  I will see it in yogi's faces and feel it in their energy. 

Simple Summer Salad Recipe

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Whenever we're invited to a friend's for dinner, I always insist on bringing the salad. It used to be because I didn't trust my cooking skills and it's really difficult to mess up a salad.  I'm more confident in the kitchen these days but more often than not still end up as the salad lady. I'm skilled in getting those leafy greens on the table. 

Years ago, my sister-in-law told me that the best salads always contained 3 things; nuts for texture, fruit for sweetness, and cheese for, well deliciousness.  I would add a fourth necessity and throw in avocados. If you are allergic to any of those things, I'm so sorry. This salad recipe is not for you. For everyone else, be the salad person and use this recipe for your next picnic or BBQ. 


Salad Ingredients (makes enough for 4-6 people)

  • 3 cups of spinach spinach 
  • 1/2 one large red onion
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup diced up strawberries strawberries
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup crushed walnuts
  • DRESSING - generous amounts of basil olive oil and Meyer lemon balsamic > both of which can be found at my sister-in-law's shop in Leavenworth or online | The Olive Oil and Vinegar Store

Self Care Practices for Summer

Summer evokes a different vision for everyone. My mind immediately travels to days on the water at Lake Tahoe, sweaty/dirty backpacking trips in Washington's national forests, sunset picnics with a bottle of Rose at Greenlake and days last until 10 pm. It's my absolute favorite time of the year and the season I am perpetually waiting for. But one of the challenges I face during summer is staying present. Summer weekends are booked out in spring so as soon as the weather get's nice, it's go, go, go.  

The former years of non-stop action have demonstrated the importance of prioritizing intentional downtime, and scheduling less to move through the season slower. Below I've outlined a few self-care ideas that focus on doing less, nourishing the body with rest and spending as much time outdoors as possible. 


Self-Care for the Mind

  1. Avoid over-scheduling: This one is tough because everything in summer - backpacking, camping, sailing, road trips - sounds really fun! I tend to say “yes” to too many events and then feel overwhelmed with back to back engagements an no time to recenter. One way to avoid over-scheduling is to print out a calendar for the summer months and pencil in all the events you've planned or RSVP'ed to. (*I prefer print over digital so I can see everything at once without having to click into each date).

  2. Unleash your inner kid: Let go of the put together, responsible adult exterior and have some fun. PLAY, be spontaneous, let loose, make-believe, built a fort, dance, encourage creativity, and let yourself dream.

3. Get lost in summer adventure reads:  Hopefully you have a vacation, or at least a few more hours in the day to relax with a good book in your hands. If you live in Seattle, I suggest starting at your public library and seeking out "peak picks".These are best-selling and in-demand books that are immediately available for checkout at all locations. A thrift store is also a great place to source cheap books and you're being environmentally responsible! Win-win. 


 Absorbing Vitamin D, Somewhere in Arizona | photo  @howsheviewsit

Absorbing Vitamin D, Somewhere in Arizona | photo @howsheviewsit

Self-Care for the Body

1. Soak Up the Sun:  Vitamin D is an essential nutrient we obtain from sun exposure that helps our bodies absorb calcium and promote bone growth. Sunlight also helps promote the production of serotonin, that feel-good mood chemical in your brain. Which is why days at the beach feel oh so goooood. Unless you burn your skin. So don't forget to protect yourself with sunscreen. 

Non-toxic Sunscreen Suggestions: Raw Elements, Babo Botanicals, All Good

2. Take a Siesta: Head to the park, hang up a hammock and get some shut-eye. A quick 20-25 minute power nap can be a game changer! An afternoon nap can help reenergize you, and make you more alert and efficient. Next afternoon you feel a lull in energy, reach for a pillow instead of the caffeine and see how you feel.  

Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
— Henry James

Self-Care for the Soul

1.) Take Your Vacation:  An article published on Forbes last year reported that only 23% of American employees take their time off. And even when people utilize their vacation, over half report still working while away from the office. There is a lot of fear and guilt around taking time off, but taking a break (a real break) benefits you and your employer. Vacations relieve stress, prevent burnout and typically make you more productive upon return. 

The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.
— Carl Sagan

2.) Go Stargazing: Nothing quiet reminds you how big the universe is like lying in the dark and gazing at the stars. Research the moon phases before hand, and head out on a new moon night for the best visibility. 

 Camping underneath the stars- Sedona, AZ | photo  @howsheviewsit

Camping underneath the stars- Sedona, AZ | photo @howsheviewsit

3.) Dine alfresco:  Go outside, shed your shoes and enjoy a meal with friends in your backyard or at the park. Here are a few snack ideas to bring to a gathering. 

Your turn! What self-care practices are you engaging in? Or, what's holding you back from self-care. Leave your questions or comments below.