Find Grace in the Space. When we Disconnect to (Re) Connect we reap profound benefits to our health, vitality and longevity. Disconnection from the digital world and prioritizing both connection to the self, along with interpersonal connection offers stress reduction, a healthier immune system, reduced anxiety, a deeper sense of empathy and compassion – just to name a few.
“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves.” ― Jack Kornfield
It’s pretty likely that by now you know that my approach to health and healing isn’t exclusive or limited to just food and nutrition, supplements and fitness. There is so much more to the story when it comes to our wellness and vitality. Mindfulness and spirit, stress-reduction, quality sleep, play – just to name a few. But, there a few other important elements that I personally feel are often overlooked: community, connection, space.
While they may sound like polar opposites, I believe both connection AND disconnection are vital to our health and well-being. Did you know that research has shown that real life social connection has profound positive effects on your health?
No – I’m Not Tired
I find in our culture there is an immense amount of pressure and a glorification of the constant “grind”, the “hustle” and a sense that we should always being present and available in the virtual world. This idea that “busyness is a status symbol”, you’ll sleep when you’re dead or that you are more important because you work more hours. I don’t think there is anything inherently bad about working extremely hard, prioritizing your work and feeling so fulfilled that you spend most of your waking hours pouring yourself into it. I’m guilty (and proud) of each and every one of these. Moreover, I think there is a problem that lies with the implication that taking breaks is a sign of laziness or a lack of motivation. That stepping away and prioritizing space and connection outside of the online world is a sign of weakness or that you aren’t fueled by your work. That’s bullshit. I say this about health and diet and I will say it here too: “honor your individuality” – ya gotta DO YOU.
I have had the pleasure over the last few months to have traveled quite a bit. Most of it for work, but in doing so I have had many opportunities amongst these busy, packed trips to disconnect from the routines of my daily living, from constantly being plugged into the virtual world and I have had the space and time to reconnect on a deeper level with myself and with others. To connect in real life. To form and nurture those important relationships that make me feel whole and complete.
It was on my most recent trips that I really found myself settling in, truly disconnecting from the virtual world and instead actually living my life, fully submerging myself into the present moment. First, on a trip up north to Santa Cruz at 1440 Multiversity where I had the time to just be in nature, to walk alone, to meditate, practice yoga in beautiful spaces, commune and eat amazing, thoughtfully crafted food with wonderful people. And most recently, last week, I traveled to Mexico to be an instructor at a Wellness Week at the Villa del Palmar in the Islands of Loreto. I was teaching yoga, meditation and breathing sessions every morning on the beach as the waves crashes onto the shore, hosting intimate afternoon nutrition workshops and otherwise just spending time with people I truly adore.
I recently had the pleasure of spending a recent Wellness Week in Mexico with the lovely Kirstin Boehmer and Steph Gaudreau, two incredibly inspiring women whom I originally met through the virtual world and had an amazing time connecting (again) on a deeper level, in person!
It’s always in my time away from the daily “hustle” that I am reminded of how important being around other people (and myself) and disconnecting from the busyness of every day life is to both my health, along with the passion I have for my work. I always come back feeling so fueled-up to continue the work that I know I am here to do. I am fortunate in the career path I have chosen to almost never find myself in a desperate need to step away nor do I find myself experiencing feelings of being tired, overworked or “over it”. While I never have a lack of excitement for my job or feel “burned out”, I can honestly say that when it presents itself, the space and the circumstances that allow me to simply slow down always brings an amazing opportunity to check in with my mission and recollect myself.
I always return feeling deeply grounded in joy and more rooted in my purpose. I come back with so much more direction and focus because in the space away I always find I have the opportunity to see things from a much different perspective, with clarity and with a body and spirit that feel refreshed. My ultimate mission is to help people to live happier, healthier, more meaningful lives, I have a deep desire to empower and inspire and I am often provided, in the space, new ways to do so and of course, the energy to continue to sustain this work.
“I find that whenever I’m feeling a lack of creativity, and feeling the need to force the work that I do, that’s a sure sign that I need to disconnect. Nothing brings me back to what’s most important than setting down my phone, closing my computer, and having a real, face-to-face conversation. It’s vital to both my mental and physical health.” – Kristin Boehmer
Disconnecting from the virtual world and instead finding time to be present in the real world, for a meaningful hug from someone you love, a solo walk in nature, listening to waves crash onto the beach or the birds chirping as the sun rises, eating beautiful, thoughtfully crafted meals cooked with and surrounded by love, exploring new places – these and many other activities of connection all have very important calming effects on our body, such as reduced cortisol levels (and stress), along with positive soothing effects on the HPA axis – just to name a few.
Finding time to step away, disconnecting to reconnect – it can be as simple as daily meaningful activities that allow you to just be consciously present in the moment. Of course, if you’d like to be more calculated in your approach, you can certainly work to develop more custom-tailored mindfulness practices to bring on the disconnection to cultivate the connection, especially with yourself. Practices such as daily yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, and other rituals – these have all been shown to increase our resilience to stress and they offer us powerful stress management tools we can keep in our arsenal to tap into whenever necessary.
The Health Benefits of Disconnection and Connection
Whether or not you find yourself overworked, you may find that giving yourself the space to step away for a moment, to breath and get perspective can be important to the process of staying inspired and motivated to continue living your purpose. However, either way, in a very physical sense these breaks can also give your body the important time that it needs to rest and repair. Reducing stress hormones and increasing important feel-good hormones, reducing inflammation, regulating circadian rhythms and supporting the immune system.
Being and feeling social, in the actually real world, not on social media, has also been shown to drastically reduce the output of cortisol, the fight-or-flight stress hormone that is synthesized in the adrenal glands from cholesterol and is responsible for a wide array of vital functions in the body, from controlling mood, your sleep / wake cycle to how you handle glucose, etc. As a default mechanism cortisol prioritizes action to the systems that need it most, for survival, shutting down all non-essential processes to reserve resources for immediate survival. All of this works great in acute stressful, traumatic situations, as it was intended for, but when we are in a state of chronic stress, day in and day out, constant output of cortisol can have very detrimental affects on our body and our health, leading to long term inflammation and often being the biggest driver of cardiovascular disease and other non-infectious diseases.
By being social, connecting and nurturing the healthy relationships present in our life we can reduce cortisol output which makes us far more resilient to psychological stressors in our everyday life. Meaning the positive interpersonal connections we cultivate can have profound affects on our longevity, our overall long term health and our quality of living.
Getaways. How-To Step Away and Find Grace in the Space.
While I realize the amazing privilege I have, in being able to travel the world and to often “get away” in a very luxurious and traditional sense, I can tell you that it needn’t be that complicated or literal. It doesn’t have to be vacations, retreats, tropical locales or highly-crafted community meet-ups. Often it’s the most humble of every day activities that allow me to truly disconnect.
‘Stepping away’ can simply mean an afternoon without your mobile device (shit even just an hour or two), a getaway from your computer for a short time to be outside in nature, a walk with someone you love, time in real life instead of the virtual space – to just have coffee or a phone conversation with a friend or family member.
A great example: the evening walks I prioritize with my husband, Mark. Whether it be 15 minutes or an hour, taking time outside of the house, without phones in our faces, laptops, internet or TV – we always have the most meaningful and important conversations during this time. We share stories of our day and our work or we get vulnerable in expressing something that has upset us or offered us a challenge in our life. We truly listen to each other on these walks. Zero distractions. I cherish that time when we are both whole-heartedly focused on one another and nothing else.
Another example: I’ve recently taken on the practice, with my friend Steph, of chatting nearly daily via text messaging, but rather than typing our words, classic text style, we have been using the audio feature on Messages. Throughout our days, we send short audio messages to each other, to check in, to share our wins and our frustrations, to laugh about silly things. Of course, we are still connected to our devices, but we are more disconnected from the virtual and instead are connecting more thoughtfully through actual words and hearing each other’s voices – it’s become so very special to me. I have noticed this practice, as simplistic as it may seem, it has offered me this beautiful opportunity to feel connected on a much deeper level.
“For me, when I feel like I need to go faster, that’s almost a sure sign that I need to slow down and disconnect from technology and reconnect with the important people in my life. That’s where I find the greatest grounding.” – Steph Gaudreau
Connection and Community – It’s About Quality not Quantity
All of this is not to say that more friends and more trips, more time away = more better. Just like our food being more about the quality than the quantity, it’s truly more about the quality of the connection. We don’t need to collect all the friends and followers to be the most “connected”. Research has shown that having a close, intimate inner circle of just 6 to 10 highly dependable people in our life is optimal.
When we surround ourselves with people who encourage and inspire us to be better, healthier humans, to me this is the right kind of peer-pressure. Something we should strive to surround ourselves with whenever possible. Being with our tribe has an incredible power to refuel us, to make us want to be better, to inspire us. And with that important time spent with the people who matter most to us, those positive vibes then ripple out from us into the rest of our world in our subsequent interactions, as teachers, health coaches, as “influencers”, as parents, as partners. I notice when I am around my friends who are living their truth, those people who work really hard to share their passions with the world to make it a better place – just by being in their presence I feel truly “filled up” and inspired to be better and do better. There are no memes on the internet or any celebrity life coaches Instagram stories that can bring out that level of deep connection and inspiration in me.
Discover, Connect, Commune
Humans are hardwired as social creatures. Positive social interactions and deep connections stimulate changes in our hormones that can affect nearly every single system in our body. Connection reduces inflammation, lowers the output of the stress-hormone cortisol and can even increase the hormone oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone”. Studies have shown that connection can bring greater feelings of empathy, trust and self esteem and it can lower levels of depression and anxiety.
Beyond the amazing wellness week I spent in Mexico in the Islands of Loreto, which you may have been following along with on Instagram (PS, if you want to join us on the next trip stay tuned for more info on a possible December wellness week event here), one of my other recent trips I had the pleasure of taking was a quick but powerful getaway to 1440 Multiversity in Santa Cruz, CA. This magical place offers equal parts learning and vacation. With full-blown retreats and weekend long workshops and events or simply just weekend self-guided Discovery Weekend getaways, 1440 has daily wellness offerings, incredible nourishing cuisine crafted by the brilliant Chef Kenny Woods, access to holistic amenities, and a unique opportunity to gain the inspiration, skills, and connections you seek. While I was on the 1440 campus, for the first time in a long time I felt myself fully breathing. I took a step back, got some perspective on my life, had quiet time to connect with myself and of course, had lots of opportunities to connect with other very special souls who lit me up! It was really an important trip for me at a time when I really needed it.
Finally, I want to leave you with this: my favorite part about being at 1440 Multiversity was learning where their name derived from. Did you know that there are 1440 minutes in EVERY single day? Each of these single moments, an opportunity to be present. To live your truth with intention. To follow your passion. To connect. Every minute a chance to be conscious, alive, aware, kind and brave. All of this very gently struck me over the head at a time I really needed to hear it. A wonderful and welcomed reminder to put the phone down, to look up and reconnect.
What will you do with your time? Are you present in every moment? How can you connect in more meaningful ways?
How do you disconnect to (re)connect?
Looking to Getaway?
We are headed back to Yosemite this summer, for a Summer Camping Fit Trip. Full disconnection. Camping, yoga under the trees, epic hikes, workouts, yummy meals cooked by yours truly and lots more. You should join us. It’s an amazing week of disconnecting and connecting – with yourself, with Mother nature, with others!
Disclaimer: this post is not sponsored by 1440 Multiversity, I simply had a beautiful escape and trip there and while I was a guest of 1440 Multiversity’s there were zero expectations or requests for follow-up coverage, but I really wanted to share their amazing accommodations and offerings with you since it had such a profound affect of me.