Ping! New text message. Ping! Someone just tagged you. Ping! Ping! Ping! Your inbox is full.
With so much commanding our attention these days, it’s easy to feel like were drowning in a tidal wave of messages that arrive daily through our phones, computers and personal devices.
At some point, it seems the only way to catch a break is to simply walk out into the wilderness, and away from the constant technological distractions.
A few weeks ago, I went on a backcountry ski trip and enjoyed two solid nights at Bow Hut and three days of skiing under a brilliant blue sky. This trip was particularly wonderful because it provided a much-needed break from the endless notifications that inundate my daily life.
I was reminded of the importance of temporarily disconnecting from the “real” world. Of course, it doesn’t take a backcountry trip to do this. A walk in the park, run by the river or snowshoe through forested trails will provide ample opportunity to go ping-free for a few hours.
In order to truly disconnect I believe we need to either spend some time alone or surround ourselves with people who can also turn the power off. By heading into the backcountry, I was forced to completely disconnect because I didn’t have cell coverage anyway. But, the people around me were also forced to leave their gadgets in the car, so no one was scrolling through their smartphones as we sat around the wood stove.
Just a few hours or days spent away from our devices gives us the perspective and discernment we need when we choose to connect again. By fully engaging in our time spent in nature - breathing in the fresh air, watching a tree sway in the wind or the way the snow drifts across the ground - we’ll stay in the present moment and away from the perpetual ”To Do List.” If fact, when we let go of all the nitty-gritty things that command our attention, we are better able to prioritize and discern what is important. The time we take to refresh our spirits will make us much more productive when it’s time to enter the game again.
Nothing earth-shattering happened back home during my three days of backcountry disconnection. And even if something truly momentous had happened, I think I would have been more prepared to handle whatever came my way, recharged by my time in the wilderness.
Dare to disconnect yourself from the daily grind and engage in a world that exists technology-free all the time: the great outdoors.
On that theme, check out Operation Unplugged, where self-professed techno-addicts are unplugging and experiencing Canada’s wilderness.