Why you should unplug and digitally detox on your next vacation
"Protect yourself from yourself. That's really the key," said Art Markman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.
That may be the best advice you get for your next vacation. This is the generation of Instagram-obsessed, twitter-loving millennials. Even if you're not a millennial, most people can't resist the urge to check messages and texts even when they're supposed to be getting away from it all. The experts say if you really want to recharge your batteries, no batteries are required.
"We are constantly on social media," said Marisa Williams, co-owner of the Brodie Lane Pharmacy in southwest Austin.
Marisa uses Facebook, Twitter and email to connect with her customers.
"That's how we get the word out," said Marisa.
She and her husband, Aaron Williams, opened the pharmacy last fall at 8916 Brodie Lane.
"The first year is certainly a rollercoaster," said Aaron, the store's pharmacist. “A lot of hard work going into it and a lot of hard work keeping it going."
To get a break, the parents of two young girls are planning a trip to Walt Disney World. They know they need to disconnect so they can reconnect as a family. But taking that plunge is easier said than done.
"It is kind of hard to unplug and really let it go completely when you're on vacation," said Marisa.
William Schroeder can sympathize. The professional counselor and founder of Just Mind recently returned from a not completely unplugged trip to Italy.
"I'm not perfect with this. I'm actually a little bit of a hypocrite with it," said Schroeder.
But after this latest vacation he's ready to take his own advice. He knows if you need a digital detox, your next trip may be the perfect place to take a vacation from your smartphone.
"I'm just going to check work stuff at the beginning of the day and nowhere else," said Schroeder.
On future vacations he also plans to turn off notifications and won't plug-in his phone next to the hotel bed. The goal is to give the brain a break.
"Social media is heavily correlated with anxiety and depression being higher," said Schroeder.
"Unplug. It's easier than you think it is," said Art Markman, Professor of Psychology at UT.
He says so much planning and money went into your vacation that this is not the time for your mind to wander.
"When you're on social media your brain is now with somebody else in some other place," said Markman. "You waited so long for that vacation, be there."
That doesn't mean you can't take photos and maybe share a few.
"There is some evidence that people will remember a vacation better if they post some of their pictures to social media," said Markman. "You shouldn't spend time looking for people's reactions after that, but the act of sharing them can actually enhance some of your memory for the vacation later. So go straight to the place where you share your photos. Share a couple of pictures and get off and check everybody's reactions later."
The professor's recommendation is to post a few favorite photos to Instagram and get off Facebook and Twitter. The goal is to not just be in the moment, but to maximize it.
"Great memories of experiences actually make you happy long after the experience is over," said Markman. "So the more that you do to make that vacation memorable the better. And since social media and cell phone use is going to make it less memorable, you're just making the vacation less useful for you in the long run."
Marisa and Aaron are committed to putting family first.
"The more present we can be for those family vacations the better," said Marisa. "It's great to just put it aside and breathe and enjoy the moment."
"It's very refreshing to just let it go," said Aaron. "I usually find a big sense of peace and relief when I finally let that go and just don't worry about it."
Marisa and Aaron plan to take photos on their next Disney trip; it just may be more magical to share a few during the trip and the rest after get back home.