We get it, anxiety and social media are a fateful combination. But it took me quite a long time to realise that social media was a trigger for me. I used an outdoor adventure to Glen Coe, Scotland to re-activate aeroplane mode and to cut myself off to the surrenders of social media. This is my story of a digital detox and how it helped me find mental clarity.
I get anxious quite a lot, I get anxious about little things that shouldn’t really matter. I worry and worry, only to realise I lost all that energy over nothing. I worry about the unknown and I worry about unfulfilled potential. I expect myself to pull out imaginary hours in the day to pick up on all my passion projects, and if I don’t – I get grumpy and look on social media. Social media being my toxic friend which bats over a load of perceived productivity and makes me feel like I’m not hitting all my goals.
There’s something to be said for being in control, knowing you are steering your own ship reduces stress and creates space to think clearly. I wanted to escape the need to always be productive in exchange for some longer days where time just slips by at a normal rate. A pre-arranged trip to Glen Coe seemed like the perfect opportunity to escape from it all, so I happily checked myself out of London to see how a digital detox and the fresh mountainous air could remedy everyday life pressures. A bit like a less glamourous Eat Pray Love, and there was no yoga.
Choosing the hard walk
The good thing about organised walking holidays is the fact that your days are already planned with itineraries based on the level of challenge you’re after. Turning up on day one with my calf and heel taped up with bright blue kinesiology tape was a bit of a warning sign for the walk leaders. Perhaps on my first day I’d take it easy with the easy walk, actually no…I opted in for the hard walk.
I wanted to break from my little city bubble, so with eager determination I looked for challenges that would take me out of my comfort zone.
From such great heights
For anyone who isn’t aware of Glen Coe, it’s a couple of hours drive north west of Glasgow, Scotland and it’s gorgeous. Popular amongst the Dutch and Americans, amidst the friendly Scots you’ll also find some international travellers within the depths of this untouched world. Glen Coe is a little bit lumpy, consisting of rolling mountains which – on a clear day, many of which we had – you could see mountains for miles. Keen adventurers set out to bag some Munros (mountains bigger than 3000 feet) which is literally a case of climbing as many Munros as you can.
I was less fussed about the Munros, more interested in the stunning scenery around me. As I got up to walk for the three days of walking, I prepared myself for a bittersweet experience: engulfed by stunning imagery with the mental battle of aching legs and sunburn. After a day of walking, our last instruction was ” keep walking, the pub is two miles away”. The longest two miles I’ve ever walked!
The best thing about the trip was to switch off from the screen and spend quality time with the people around me. Instead of instantly documenting wherever I was in the world with Instagram stories or Twitter updates, I took pictures for my own benefit. Not for anyone else’s. I kind of loved that I hadn’t looked on BBC news for a while too, the sense of disconnection was a really nice opportunity to give myself the head space I had been craving.
The best climb for vertigo…?
So you might think that a walking holiday might not be the most adrenaline-seeking holiday, but 1000m steep climbs are not something to be scoffed at! What better way to confront my vertigo than to pick the walk with the steep scent. With the steps becoming few and far between, there was a moment where a loose rock took a tumble down the steep ridge – causing me to stop and take a breathe.
This is the perfect opportunity for you to tell me how I leaped up the hill nonchalantly like a modern day Julie Andrews in the sound of music. In reality, there were some shaky moments which led me to cling onto the hill side, cautiously taking steps and slowing down the people behind me. They didn’t mind, it was a welcomed break for them to get their breath back.
The freedom to focus
If you ever need to reinstate some balance in your life, I highly recommend taking the time out to surround yourself with nature. Dare yourself to step out into a no signal zone and you never know what will come out of it. Sometimes it’s good to shake up the routine and to remove the everyday constraints you put on yourself. The pace of walking is so much slower that what I’m used to but with injury rehab in full force this pace was just right.
Walking is a bit more sociable than running too, giving you a chance to disappear into meaningful conversations with the people around you. Conversations I always use to help me come up with new conclusions about my busy life back at London. After all, there’s no point in taking the easy route (unless it involves a little ferry ride to the Isle of Lismore then yeah, maybe!)
Thanks to a spot of aeroplane mode, a bucket load of fresh air and comfort zone-challenging climbs, the world suddenly became a much bigger place. And me, I was so much better for it.