We all know that a digital detox can be beneficial for your holistic health and wellbeing but what does it actually feel like? What impact does a Digital Detox have?
Here in this guest post, Mum and Business Owner Corinna Nicol shares her experience of a “Digital Detox” Wellness Retreat at Swinton Bivouac on the Swinton Estate in North Yorkshire.
I run the admin side of my business (The Mummy Circle and Connect Wakefield) entirely from my phone, so the idea of a digital detox initially filled me with horror and trepidation! How would I respond to new enquiries from potential clients? How would I update my Facebook and Instagram pages? More importantly, how would I take pictures or even wake up in the morning without the camera and alarm clock functions on my phone?!
Preparing for the Digital Detox
The pre-trip information advised us to take warm clothes, which I duly packed, along with some hopeful maxi dresses and flip flops – the previous day had been a scorcher. We were informed the lodges we would be staying in are off-grid, so no electric lights or heat, though there would be fully functioning toilets (much to my relief!) Pretty much everything else we needed would be provided, including torches and wellies, so I set off on the very pleasant hour and a half drive from Wakefield. On arrival, I checked in at the Bivouac bistro, which is a beautiful cafe with twinkly lights and quirky decorations. I was given directions to drive to my lodge, but having a terrible sense of direction and total lack of map-reading skills, I managed to go the completely wrong way and get my car stuck in a ditch. It wasn’t the best start to a relaxing three days but all the staff were so lovely and arranged to have me towed out, and gave me a lift to my accommodation – an entire lodge to myself!
Health Retreat Accommodation
The lodges are absolutely stunning, and have enough space to sleep seven, with the lucky two sleeping just under the sky light – the spot I chose.
A Gong Bath
After an orientation meeting and getting to know each other, (as well as handing in our phones) we were treated to a wonderful Sound Bath by Gill McCreadie. We settled down into beanbags and enjoyed gongs, Himalayan singing bowls, rain sticks and other instruments I probably don’t know the names of.
The gong resonates at a frequency that sends the body into a deeply relaxed state, and as Gill told us, the body is able to heal itself when the parasympathetic nervous system has been activated – basically when you’re super relaxed. We left for dinner feeling very chilled, and enjoyed an amazing three course vegetarian feast.
Just having dinner cooked for us was a wonderful treat, and the fact there were no phones beeping to disturb us, and no one was updating their social media, meant that we could enjoy some lovely conversation and get to know each other. We made our way back to our cabins in the pitch black using the torches supplied to us, and some of us (!) managed to get our log burners going and enjoy a cosy hour before bed.
After a blissful sleep, we were woken early for a sunrise walk. It was lovely to wake up and to jump straight out of bed, not checking emails or messages, but to make a quick cup of tea on the stove before pulling on wellies and heading straight out into the dark forest. Breakfast was then delivered to our lodges in wicker baskets, which I enjoyed on the verandah, watching the trees sway in the wind and listening to the rain.
Not being able to check my phone was quite liberating.
It made me focus on the here and now, and appreciate everything I was experiencing in the moment.
We were then taken to Swinton Country Club and Spa, where we enjoyed a gorgeous full body massage, and time to unwind further in the outdoor pool and jacuzzi. As a mother of two children who are not keen on sleep, my favourite place was the “sshh” room, which had low lighting and heated water beds. I could have stayed there for the rest of the day, but another beautiful vegetarian meal was waiting for us back at the Bivouac.
A Mindful Walk and Forest Bathing
We spent the afternoon on a Mindful Walk, doing some “Shirinyoku”, which is a Japanese term for “forest bathing.” Our guide for the weekend, Faith, enouraged us to focus on our different senses, and the two hours walking was spent in very pleasant silence. We stopped to sit a few times, and each time I nearly drifted off to sleep, resting against a tree. It was an absolutely gorgeous way to quiet a very busy mind.
Reiki Drumming by the campfire
Our evening’s activity of “Reiki drumming” was my favourite of the whole weekend. We were taken to the campfire in the middle of the field, and by this point the wind was howling and the rain was pouring down. We were invited to wrap ourselves up in the blankets provided, and close our eyes to focus on the beat of the drum, which came round and round the circle, going up and down close to our bodies. We sat for an hour, which felt like only five minutes to me. Once the session finished, I was in such a dream-like state, I drifted back to my cabin and enjoyed an even better night’s sleep.
Energising Sound Bath
Our final morning concluded with another sound bath, this time the purpose was to energize us. We then had time for tea and coffee and a debrief of the time we’d spent. We all agreed that being without our phones had been such a positive experience, and had made us evaluate the way we use them in our day to day lives.
All the mums in the group decided to make a concerted effort to use their phones as little as possible around their children, as we all know children learn from example.
Mental Health Benefits of a Digital Detox
I think all the members of the group found their mental health benefited from being away from screens for a couple of days; the constant notifications, the videos popping up on Facebook and Instagram, the unhealthy comparisons you are sometimes drawn into making can be so draining.
We found the combination of being in the fresh air, and the lack of artificial light, as well as staying away from emails and messages last thing before bed, really helped with our sleep, as well as being able to start the day in a much more positive frame of mind.
Digital Detox goals
Going forward I resolved to set aside certain times in the day when I would respond to messages and emails, rather than replying to everything as soon as it appeared. I can’t say I’ve stuck to it 100% so far, but at least it has made me more mindful of my mobile phone use. I’m even considering buying an old-fashioned phone with no internet access, to force me to only use it once the kids are in bed and I can dedicate an hour or so to catching up. I’m not sure if it will work, but this weekend taught me it’s worth a try!
If you’d like more information on a Wellness Retreat at Swinton Bivouac, please head to their Website: https://www.swintonestate.com/bivouac/ or Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wearethebivouac/
The next Retreat is planned for June 21st- 23rd.
DISCLAIMER: Corinna received this retreat free of charge for the purpose of this review, along with fellow Blog Up North members.