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Digital Detox, Forest Bathing, and Building Resilience

Nicholas Noble | June 28, 2019

Resilience Part II

Each segment featured in this resilience series brings principles of good living and great health into a scope of increased accessibility. Matcha is a core of human resilience, improving our toughness, and hastening our recovery amidst difficulties. Each practice that we share capitalizes on those natural benefits, continue reading for an introduction to digital detox.

Balance in a trade-off

The advent of internet connectivity, smart phones, and other digital technologies in the past two decades has revolutionized modern living in unprecedented ways. The world of tech directly compliments the most basic desire in human nature to connect, explore, and share with others. People across the world can now vicariously experience more than ever a world of content, lifestyles, and culture. 

Yet, with all good things, there’s a balance to be found. Privileges of this digital-era coincide with a unique set of consequences such as diminished face-to-face interaction, and varying disposition to physical health. In understanding what those fallbacks of 'digital over-exposure' look like, you’ll be better equipped to recognize the value of detox practices.

Putting the phone down

Our hyper-digitized surroundings can make it easy to become complacent, avoidant of adventure, and minimized in exposure to the natural environment. Since virtual reality has yet to catch up to all of our senses — smell, taste, the breeze of fresh air, it's critical that we not settle exclusively for digital stimulation, lest the more out-of-balance we may become.

Researchers at Stanford University have shown just this, in one study they determined that walking for 90-minutes in a natural setting showed a decrease in brain activity associated with depression, as compared to walking in a digitalized, urban setting. In addition, recent findings also suggest the more digital time we spend, the greater the likelihood of developing depression becomes. In short, the tendency to keep scrolling comes to quickly displace norms associated with good health, e.g. exercise, face-to-face interaction, and even getting appropriate amounts of sleep. Only to name a few, each of these drawbacks can slowly eat away at our physical and emotional resiliency.

Don’t fret, you’ve got options

Everyone’s digital detox needs are going to be different, and even likely to fluctuate from time to time. Depending on your personal goals, you’ll need to consider what strategies will be most practical to your lifestyle. For some, it may be as simple as incorporating a period of time each day to reduce or completely restrict the use of devices. For others more concerned, an extended retreat may be in order to jumpstart healthier practices. This is much for you to decide, here we’ll offer a couple easier, yet effective approaches to get you started:

  • Thirty minutes of mindfulness practice each day, e.g. walk around the block?
  • “Afternoon without the smartphone”
  • Drink a bowl of matcha and meditate for half an hour each morning
  • Don’t sleep close to your phone or other sources of digital light
  • Read a physical book to replace 30min of scroll-time
  • Choose days to limit yourself to the basics: email, text, or phone calls
  • Designate your digital hours and stick to it, as practiced by Dr. Weil

When you start exploring what’s right for you, you can expect to feel the improvements quickly. Also, as with any good habits, a rule of thumb to follow is to start with whatever is practical, something you won’t get burned out on, and then figure out where to go from there.

Shinrin-yoku (森林浴) Forest Bathing

Finally, if putting the phone down for a few hours per day won’t cut it for your detox needs, or if you are simply looking for a new experience in nature, we recommend Shinrin-yoku (森林浴) — a traditional Japanese nature based therapy which translates to “Forest Bathing.” The term is synonymous with ‘taking in the forest atmosphere,’ and is accompanied by a mountain of scientific literature establishing its efficacy as a wellness promoter.

Forest bathing has become a pivotal exercise in Japanese preventative medicine, offering profound rejuvenating and restorative benefits amongst practitioners. Not much unlike daily matcha drinkers, Japanese doctors recognize associated health benefits including reduced blood pressure and stress, also including increased focus, immunity, and overall energy.