6 Powerful Lessons I Learned from Unplugging On Vacation

I arrived at night to a cold room. I unpacked, in silence. Then what, I wondered? There’s no cell or Wi-Fi service in the rooms to help guests unwind. As I reviewed the schedule for the week ahead and assessed my surroundings, it turned out there were far too many distractions from my intended ‘unplug.’ There were hourly fitness and yoga classes, hikes, lectures, mealtimes, and, as my luck would have it, a coffee bar with Wi-Fi right across from my room. Literally, the view of mountains and majestic wilderness from my back windows was juxtaposed by the coffee and Wi-Fi hut outside my front door. With the intention of unplugging on vacation, at first, I thought: “Just my luck!”

Turns out, I had two options during my week long stay at Rancho la Puerta, a spa getaway retreat in the mountains of Tecante, Mexico — I could do what I’ve always done and stay plugged, or I could choose to use the week as an attempt to find peace. If you’re anything like me, you too are consumed by your schedule, your phone, your job, other’s expectations, pressures, responsibilities, family, and more. But there’s an alternative to the chaos we experience externally. It begins with a choice to boldly live from the heart and slow down enough to listen to its voice. Here’s what I learned from a week of conscious unplugging.

But there’s an alternative to the chaos we experience externally. It begins with a choice to boldly live from the heart and slow down enough to listen to its voice.

Turning off my phone at night makes my dreams better

Is your phone the last thing you check before you go to bed and the first thing you check when you wake up? It was for me. Astonishing things happen in your subconscious, though, when you disconnect. At the ranch, my dreams were full. I awoke, in silence, and laid in bed recounting my dreams and just ‘being.’ True, I didn’t have kids to tend to or breakfast to prepare, but I could certainly put some rules in place around my phone when I arrive home.

Commitment: Turn my phone on airplane mode at least 30 minutes before bed and not check emails first thing in the morning.

Slowing down makes you look younger

Over the last year, I’ve started to feel like I’m looking older. True, aging is a good thing, but stress lines aren’t. My facialist would like to say it’s the magic mask she applied, but nope. After a week of quality sleep, fresh food, and an inner sense of ease, my stress lines started to disappear. Tom Cronin, my friend and meditation specialist, advocates meditation instead of Botox, citing the benefits of meditation for anti-aging.

My commitment: To meditate every day and feel the skin of my face and forehead release.

The more emails you send, the more you receive

Have you ever noticed that the more you engage with the world the more it engages back? I spent my week staying relatively on top of my responsibilities, and yet, spent very little time on emails. The less I sent, the less I received. I am usually typing away at my little screen all day long … and that doesn’t help with my stress lines!

Commitment: Think before I hit send. Can this be communicated in a phone call instead, or not at all?

Our plates are too full of options

The food at rancho was simple. There were only a few options, and less for those of us with allergies or preferences. Breakfast was eggs, salsa, and cabbage salad. Lunch was a salad with some protein and avocado. Dinner was sautéed vegetables and fish. True, I got a bit bored and the food wasn’t exciting, but get this: I felt amazing. It occurred to me that although I eat healthy at home, too many options make me eat too much. I had energy for my workouts and woke up without feeling bloated.

My commitment: Simplify my daily meals and cut out the processed foods that sneak their way in.

Hiking in nature clears the mind and enlightens the spirit

At the Ranch, we hiked daily and watched the sunrise. This was a highlight of my trip. Insights arise in nature, especially when you hike up a mountain and look down at the landscape below. When I hiked, I solved some internal dilemmas and reawaken my creative potential. I even came up with some new class ideas and food filming programs I plan to record.

Commitment: Walk outside daily. It can’t always be on a beautiful mountain, but being out in the fresh air and looking beyond some horizon will keep me thinking big.

Moms are the best

My mom and I live across oceans and it has been years since we’ve spent a week together. I’ve learned to appreciate my mom that much more since having my own children. My mom opens my heart to love and encourages me to give my best self to the world.

Commitment: FaceTime my mom at least once a week and tell her how much I love her.

Taking a break from your usual every so often offers tremendous benefit and if you can, take a break once in a while. But, the real magic is being able to live fully, healthfully, and wisely in the real world, not outside of it. To manage the daily chaos and to apply ourselves to becoming our best, despite the noise and the challenges we face. To fulfill our responsibilities and to make something meaningful with our life while staying sane, healthy, and content. As I sit here on the plane longing to hug my kids, it turns out the best part isn’t going way. The best part is coming home.