Mindful Benefits Of A Digital Detox

desk 060
It is called a web for a reason and without some mindful awareness of its entrapment it is not just our time that gets tangled up but also our minds.

The other day I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I came across a link to a great piece in the New York Times. I jumped across to the lengthy article and had a read. Once I’d finished I returned to Facebook, pausing to read some things in more depth, skimming over others, and leaving comments here and there.

Sound familiar? I am sure this is a typical snapshot of all of our social media interactions.  We flit seamlessly from one thing to another. This is true of most of our online activity. Social media aside, web-surfing lures us from one interesting site to another and I even find just answering emails takes me into the maze. It is called a web for a reason and without some mindful awareness of its entrapment it is not just our time that gets tangled up but also our minds. A single interaction can agitate the mind enough to cause an entire avalanche. You find yourself snowed under with streams of open tabs to come back to and a mind that has travelled far and wide and has lost track of where it was.

The risk here is that our minds are becoming conditioned to being constantly stimulated and eternally engaged. Our minds are presented with fewer and fewer inbuilt opportunities to sit still and be quiet. The previously uninhabited spaces in our lives are now filled in, filled up and filled out. The mobile nature of the devices we carry make sure of that. The quiet little windows of time that spontaneously presented themselves – standing in line, sitting in the waiting room, stopped at the lights, waiting at school pick-up time, are fast becoming non-existent. These little gaps left time for us to ponder, daydream, reflect, notice and people watch. These are not activities that we schedule into our day and so by filling this time we go without them. These incidental activities, shall we call them, reward us without warning or fanfare. They provide mental relaxation, some down-time for the mind,  and when they are absent from our lives our mental-hygiene suffers and can leave us feeling constantly distracted and overwhelmed.

Our minds are moving from one thing to another in such quick succession that we don’t have time to digest the information let alone process our emotional responses to it.

Knowing when it’s time for a digital detox.

Our need to constantly ‘check in’ agitates the mind. We struggle to rest in stillness as there is always a task at hand (or more literally in hand). Our minds begin to scan the device-driven to-do list (emails, social media updates, follow-up phone calls etc.) for anything that can occupy our time. Eventually it becomes an unconscious time filler that we reach for in our spare moments. As soon as it becomes an unconscious habit it sits very close to an addiction pattern. This is perhaps a good indication that it is time to switch off and break the cycle.

I took the opportunity over the weekend to turn off all devices and experience life without distraction for a couple of days. I was starting to feel wired and the monkey mind had become a hyped-up beast that was difficult to settle, even during meditation. In the absence of any undue stress or tension I could feel the restlessness building from technology constantly tugging at my skirt tails. I felt that it was time to switch off in order to restore balance and create more space and time. My instinct was to go back to the simplicity I once knew before devices were the norm.

Unplugging was a hugely rewarding way to take a breather. Almost immediately there was a sense of calm that came with feeling there was more time and space for things, not to mention the relief of not being constantly interrupted by a smartphone. Each time the temptation arose to check a device or look something up (like where to eat in a new part of town we were visiting) I refocused my attention on how calm and quiet my mind felt, and how grateful I was to recalibrate in this way.

Taking a little (or a lot) of time away from devices helps to raise awareness around the behaviours that agitate our mind. This experience made me aware of small ways that I can adjust my day-to-day use of technology so as to minimize some of its effects on my mental wellbeing and I have been implementing them ever since.

I highly recommend that you try it for yourself. Once you resist the initial temptation to reach for a device you will be well on your way to discovering a whole new (old) world that leaves you feeling renewed, relaxed and recharged and very much more connected to yourself and the world around you.

Let me know how you go.

Perhaps you have already done a digital detox. What did you discover?
Leave a comment below.

May your week be a centred one.

xM

 

Pear, Almond and Ginger Chia Pudding

Chia pudding3 117

A protein-rich breakfast is an integral part of setting up our mood and energy for the day. This first meal can help stabilise blood sugar levels and  prevent an appetite roller coaster that leads to cravings late in the day and after-dinner snacking.

Mornings are my favourite time of day. A new beginning awaits and this motivates me to start the day well. I love to wake early and squeeze in a bit of ‘me’ time before the rest of the family rises. This, along with a well-balanced breakfast, sets me up well for  the day ahead and helps me sail through the demands of the morning-rush feeling centred and energised.

I love simple, clean flavors to tickle my taste buds awake in the morning. Keep it clean and gentle on the body also by reducing refined sugars, allergens and chemicals in your breakfast.

Today’s recipe features nutritious Chia seeds. They are simply and quickly prepared to create a breakfast pudding that will boost energy, provide Omega-3 fatty acids for healthy brain and nerve function as well as a good dose of anti-oxidants, that help to remove free-radicals from the body. Chia seeds also aid digestion, stabilise blood sugar, and lower cholesterol. They are a good source of Magnesium, the mineral that helps to keep us relaxed. Magnesium is depleted with increased stress levels, reduced sleep, caffeine consumption and regular exercise, so many of us can use an extra dose.

Chia seeds have the ability to absorb 10 times their weight in liquid, creating a unique gel-like pudding. It takes only a couple of steps to prepare and creates a tapioca-like texture.

This gorgeous, delicate pudding can be made the night before and served up to the whole family for breakfast. It can also be portioned out into smaller, transportable jars for a great grab and go breakfast or mid-afternoon snack.

Little note: I always make an extra serve or two of the roast pears (below) as they make a great school lunchbox treat.

Pear, Almond and Ginger Chia Pudding

Makes 2 generous serves.

INGREDIENTS

Chia Pudding:

  • 1/2 cup Chia seeds
  • 2 1/2 cups organic, unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey (or other preferred sweetener). I use Leatherwood honey which has gorgeous, floral flavours – but of course any will do.
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Combine almond milk, honey and spices in a bowl or large jar.
2. Add Chia seeds and mix well.
3. Chill in the refrigerator overnight or at least 4 hours to allow the Chia seeds to swell.

light Chia jar

Roast Pears:

  • 1 large organic pear
  • cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F
2. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
3. Slice pear into wedges and remove core.
4. Arrange on tray with skin side down.
5. Sprinkle pear wedges generously with cinnamon.

Chia - Pears on tray
6. Roast in oven until tender, approx 30 minutes. Allow to cool.

Chia - Baked pears

Assemble pudding and pears and top with a sprinkle of slivered almonds.

Chia pudding3 117

Enjoy!

Banana and oat lunchbox treats

Banana and Oat slice 031

I am a fan of squeezing as much nutrition into each meal as I can when it comes to preparing meals for my children. Adding a pinch of turmeric and cinnamon to their quinoa porridge to reduce inflammation, a sprinkle of kelp in the Lentil Bolognaise to assist with healthy thyroid function, a handful of Gogi berries in the smoothie for a dose of amino acids and a vitamin C boost , etc. This list goes on…and on.

There are mornings though when my children’s one and only simple request is that their porridge isn’t too ‘busy’. They just want simple flavours without all the fuss. Understandable.

This Banana and Oat Slice, inspired by Dale Pinnock, is simple in flavour and has just a handful of ingredients but fulfills my nutritional value test. It is packed with calcium rich Tahini, omega rich flax seeds/linseeds and oats which are super high in magnesium to boost the immune and nervous system.

It could easily double as a breakfast bar for those mornings where the accidental sleep-in doesn’t have to mean sacrificing a quality breakfast, but they do make a beautiful lunchbox treat.

Banana And Oat Slice

Makes approx  16 pieces

Ingredients

  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 2 tbsp Tahini (or any other nut butter you have on hand)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 1/2 cups organic porridge oats
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds/linseeds
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil + extra for greasing tin

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F and grease a 20cm x 20cm baking tray with extra coconut oil.
  2. In a small pot add honey, coconut oil and Tahini and gently heat until evenly combined. Remove from the heat.
  3. Add the Tahini mixture to the bananas and mix until well combined.
  4. Add flax seeds/linseeds and oats to the mixture and combine well.
  5. Press the mixture into the the greased tin.
  6. Bake for approx 20 mins or until golden.
  7. Allow to cool before slicing with a serrated knife.

 

Banana and Oat slice mixture photos 001

 

 

Banana and Oat slice cooling rack photos 015

 

Enjoy!