Goodbye internet, we’re taking a break! This Christmas all of us at the The Owl and The Coconut will be turning off push notifications and turning on our out of office reply.
Because it’s time to stop. Not forever! Just for the Christmas break! When you are really passionate about what you do it’s tempting to never stop. But is that healthy? In October we worked our socks off on social media to get votes for an Aviva Funding Pot. The vote opened while I was on holiday with my family; I felt I just had to be on social media pushing the cause. This wasn’t great as it meant every time my phone connected to the internet I was overwhelmed with updates and calls for my attention, taking me away from the beautiful beach I was on. My mind wasn’t on holiday at all.
We received some very challenging messages and my mind began racing with replies, who to turn to for support, and how to look after the team thousands of miles away back home. I couldn’t believe how the worry thoughts grew like vines in my mind and pushed out my present moment connections and experiences. Auto pilot kicked in, like that pretty bad Adam Sandler film ‘Click’, and I began to fast forward through my family time to get back to sorting out work stuff.
But how could my mind be hijacked in this way?! All this mindfulness work! I’m the boss of my mind, right? I have a toolbox full of skills for coping with stress! So I made extra time for my mindfulness practice because it was a time I needed it most.
On the last day of the holiday I lay tossing and turning in the hotel bed with my family in the darkened room. I checked the time. 5am. My thoughts went from, “oh no it’s nearly sunrise and I’ve hardly slept blah blah blah” to, “oh it’s nearly sunrise. Maybe I could watch the sunrise.” So that’s what I did. I headed down to the beach and sat in the dark. I sat with my busy mind full of worries and I took a step back. I began a Bodyscan meditation and began to reconnect and land back into my body. Instead of just being a stressed, disconnected head. As I sat and meditated as the dogs barked, the waves lapped on the shore, and the people began to wake. I began to thaw out.
As I looked to the horizon an amazing show in the sky began. Up from over a hilly skyline out popped the sun in the most poetic, all encompassing way ever! Like a scene from a film the light filled my whole view. It literally just burst into the sky, flooding the beach with warm golden sunlight. It was beautiful.
It gave me the space to connect back into my body and the world. Space for the worries to have more space to roam around so they weren’t the only things in my view. The sunrise opened my heart and warmed my soul. I was finding my way back to balance.
This was really important lesson for me. In a world of work where nothing ever stops, I realised I have to put boundaries in to help create pauses. With all the social media now, it’s tempting to “just have a quick scroll” which can boost your mood with a quick burst of a dopamine hit. But then always comes the stress, a sad story, a stressful message that feels like it needs replying to. And before you know it time’s gone by and you’ve been sucked in. Missing precious moments of real life, the here and now, the stuff we can hug and squeeze!
I knew the lesson was to really stop. Fully. That’s why this Christmas and New Year everyone at The Owl and The Coconut will be switching off our work social media accounts and emails. I don’t want to miss this important Christmas family time and friends. And as the barriers between my personal and work related social media accounts are blurred, I’m uninstalling all social media from my phone. Amazing volunteer Alice will be using Buffer to set up some pre scheduled posts, and amazing volunteer Lauren has made some lovely out of office images we’ll be updating all our social media with to keep people in the loop, along with our fab newsletter.
As I know I love my phone for use as a camera, and I’ll want to be able to make plans with my family and friends, I’ll keep text messages and Whatsapp and that is all. Goodbye Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and emails. In hope I can see, feel, taste, smell and touch the experience of Christmas with my family and friends! The aim is to be present in the now, I’ll let you know how it goes!
Seasons greetings from all at The Owl and The Coconut. We hope you have a very mindful Christmas and find opportunities to Stop. Notice. Create.
By Gemma Bowden