Detox

Learn more about the positive effects of detoxification for health, fitness and weight loss.

Why we all need a Digital Detox and 9 Ways how to do it


I’ve recently become a parent, and because of that, I feel justified in employing scare tactics to warn you of the dangers out there in the world. I’m not talking about the man in the van who looks like a clown. You heard about him waaay back. I’m talking about something that Albert Einstein saw coming 70 years ago when he said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction, the world will have a generation of idiots.” HP, the company that promises, “With our technology, you’ll reinvent your world,” just surveyed over 7,500 people in North America to learn about our relationship with technology, specifically our smartphone screens. Ironic, yes; admirable, even more so.

What HP found in a recent study:

63% think our digital lives and real lives are out of balance.
50% of couples have used their phones to ignore each other.
65% think it’s ok to check their phone during dinner.
58% think it’s ok to check their phone on a date.
40% admit they use their phones in public to avoid talking to others.
63% believe relationships were closer in the past, and the same percentage believe relationships were more meaningful before social media.
60% wish they could return to a time before social media.
91% would rather have 1 real friend than 100 online friends.

I could shake these stats off and pretend they don’t apply to me, but HP also found that parenting has gone digital and that 1 in 3 parents spend over 5 hours daily on their phone, a stat that requires just too many exclamation points to bother entering them. Now that one stung…

Digital Use is Leading To Addiction, Depression, Suicide

I’m worried that if the day Einstein feared isn’t already here, it’s fast approaching. Selfies are up, relationships are down. Everyday it seems like there is more connection, but less connecting, and engaging with the *actual* world is becoming overwhelmingly intimidating. And while this certainly might lead to a generation of idiots, we’re now realizing that the staggering amount of time we spend staring at a screen is also leading to a generation of anxious, depressed, and lonely souls. Einstein had no idea the extent of what this technology dependence would do to our psyche. How could he? Who could have predicted that global depression rates would increase 18.4% between 2005 and 2015 and suicide rates in the US would rise 24% between 1999 and 2014? And that governments would have to step in and impose curfews on gaming for minors to prevent addiction?

Our digital habits aren’t just wreaking psychological havoc–they’re physically harmful too. Sitting 10+ hours a day in front of screens leads to chronic inflammation, which has been proven to be the cause of many serious ailments and diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and dementia. Cell phone pings and dings distract drivers from red lights, stop signs, children running across the road, and ultimately cause 1.6 million car accidents in the US every year. That’s one every 20 seconds. By the time you get to the end of this paragraph, there’s a chance someone just died texting and driving. That’s not okay.

But I do wonder. If Einstein were to see the amount of time we spend glued to our screens scrolling through an endless stream of emails and social feeds of seeming perfection, where we inevitably compare our mundane, everyday lives to the highlights of everyone else’s, would he really be that shocked? Or would he just say we’re all idiots for not realizing this would obviously deteriorate us physically and spike our social anxiety… As a new mother, I feel it’s my duty to try and change our current course so that my daughter does not, in fact, fulfill Einstein’s prophecy.

Be aware of your current usage

Just like a dietary detox, the first step in digitally detoxing is awareness. If you want to lose weight, gain muscle, you name it, you have to look at what you’re putting into your body. Garbage in = garbage out. Same goes for your relationship with your devices. Look at how you’re interacting with your devices by building a digital diet sheet. Record how much, how often and when you’re on your phone, laptop, game console, or TV; seeing just those numbers will do half the detoxing work. Tip: start with your smartphone and enable Screen Time on iOS and Digital Wellbeing on Android. These two stock features will give you a snapshot of how you currently use your smartphone. I personally like the stat about how many notifications you get each day. Just think, each notification breaks your concentration on what you were doing, be it driving, chatting with a colleague, or playing with your child.

If you’re anything like me and the rest of the Joes and Sues and Sallys out there, you’ll see you spend upwards of hours on social media weekly, let alone daily (Larry Rosen, psychology professor and author of The Distracted Mind, says, “Most people check their phones every 15 minutes or less, even if they have no alerts or notifications,”) but stop right there. Don’t judge yourself. Don’t judge your numbers. Simply be aware.

Technology isn’t to be demonized, by any means–it helped put a man on the moon and sequence the entire human genome–but the way it’s used today tends to keep people inside a bubble. Instead of simply inspiring or enabling us, it’s creating anxiety and tension and zombified trances. It needs to be rebalanced. Here are nine ways you can reprogram your relationship with technology.

Nine Ways To Digitally Detox:

 

Build “No Phone Zones” in your home

This could be the kitchen or the bedroom, places primed for human interaction and bond-building. Place baskets at the perimeters of these zones so you can physically leave your phone behind.

Set “No Technology Times” in your home

If you’re a culprit of looking at your phone before falling asleep or before your feet even touch the floor in the morning, leave it in the hallway when you go to sleep. Mountain Trek suggests stopping device-time at least one hour before bedtime to reduce blue light consumption, which is similar to the wavelength emitted by the sun and triggers our “rise and shine” cortisol stress hormone.

Let your friends and family know you’re taking a break from your phone

This way, you won’t feel anxious about people contacting you.

Turn off notifications

Notifications are the digital version of that person always bothering you. Mostly, they actually fuel potential symptoms of addiction by causing your heart rate to increase. Notifications let your phone control you, as opposed to how it should be, the other way around.

Turn on grayscale

By making your phone less desirable to look at, you’ll be less tempted to tap around on it. Here are tutorials for iOS and Android

Take distracting apps off your home screen

This way, you’ll have to intentionally seek out an app to use it, and, in doing so, you’ll cut down on the “accidental” time-sucks that happen when you mindlessly hold your phone.
Put a learning app like Duolingo or Elevate next to your social media apps, increasing your chance of skipping out on an hour-long social media binge. Learning is one of the best ways to satiate our mental needs.

Play phone Jenga!

When you go to a dinner party, or at least host your own, encourage the guests to stack their phones. This way, everyone will be less inclined to look at them; you don’t want to be the one who removes your device and makes the whole stack tumble down.

Set out parameters

Don’t go all or nothing, because when you starve yourself of anything, your mind wants to go to the other extreme. Instead of deleting all your apps at the same time, try deleting Facebook first, then Instagram, and the list goes on. One habit for one day, then one week, then one month. The idea is to make your change a big priority and a small step.

The most delicious things in the world don’t taste so great after a few too many bites, and the same goes for digital consumption. But it’s hard to shake ourselves out of a stupor. It’s hard to “awake” once our brains have been habituated to scrolling through images and videos on devices and apps literally engineered for addiction. Breaking the trance will be hard. But you don’t have to go at it alone. In fact, we suggest getting a friend or family member bought in on the idea as well. Or, join the conversation on our Facebook page (an example of how social media can be used for good—just don’t get sucked into your feed for two hours!). For a full digital detox, come visit us in the lush mountains of British Columbia for a week of unplugging and resetting, physically, emotionally, and digitally! For more information on our award-winning health and wellness retreat, recently named the #1 Health Retreat in the US & Canada by Travel + Leisure, email info@mountaintrek.com or contact us.

Why Sitting Is Bad For You + 5 Ways To Fix It

Most of us commute to work sitting in our vehicle, then sit all day at our office job and then sit on the couch when we get home and watch TV. In fact, most of the Western World spends the majority of their life sitting.

Why is sitting bad for you?

As the video above explains, our bodies are designed for movement. The problem with sitting, is that it leads to a sedentary lifestyle, and chronic sedentarism has been proven to be the cause of many serious ailments and diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and dementia. Spending hours, days, months, all in relatively the same position not only takes a toll on our bodies in regards to our posture and musculature, it limits circulation. We all have one big organ that pumps fresh, clean blood out—our heart— but there is no organ to return this blood back to our our filtering organs; the kidneys, liver, and pancreas. Our bodies rely on movement, bending, flexing, and twisting to create a mechanical pump to move this blood back through those organs. Without movement, we have no return pump. Without the return of blood, we become stagnant, and this stagnation leads to inflammation. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “chronic inflammation plays a role in almost every major disease, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and even depression.”

We aren’t getting the habitual exercise and range of motion we need to keep us healthy, moving and fit. Integrating cardio exercise into our regular schedules is of course imperative to health, both now and as we age. We do however, still need to be realistic in our careers; most jobs are after all desk jobs, and don’t necessarily provide the opportunity to work out or go for a hike as part of our daily tasks and duties.

How to combat sedentarism

Fortunately, sedentarism is being addressed as a workplace issue by forward thinking employers, and we are seeing an increasing number of workplaces making clear efforts in addressing employee health, by affording more opportunities to move while working.

The treadmill desk is considered being ‘productive on two fronts’ according to Brown & Brown, an international Insurance consulting firm, and huge supporter of exercising while working. CEO of Priceline Group, Darren Huston, states that where possible, he will go for a ‘walking meeting’, inviting the discussion to take place while on the move in the park nearby his office complex. His reasoning: “walking clears my brain.” The late Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs was reported to be a huge proponent of the walking meeting, and even Barack Obama is said to end his day by doing a couple laps of the White House with his Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough to review the latest political issues.

The above people are certainly on to something. Research at the University of Bristol and the University of Minnesota have concluded that as we move (especially when outside in nature), parts of our brain are stimulated that we usually find stimulated when during creative pursuits and relaxation. Also, worker productivity was said to increase by ‘substantially’ (as per studies above, measured by quality of work, work output, mental sharpness and improved time management) when workers took a walking break in their work day. This shows that parking in a chair isn’t always our best way to a productive workday. Nevertheless, realistically, so much of our working lives are spent in front of the screen, hunched over the keyboard. But we don’t have to take this sedentarism sitting down!

Beyond integrating regular exercise into your routine before and after work, we certainly can make our sedentary work day a little more comfortable with a little more movement. Click here to learn some simple stretches, movements and tips to integrate into your work day:

FIVE FULL BODY EXERCISES FOR THE OFFICE

Aside from those exercises listed in the above link, you can also try a few of these:

Stretching-in-an-office

Stretch

As we bend over the keyboard, our shoulders hunch forward, thereby creating a lactic acid build up and soreness through the upper back, neck and shoulders. Another side affect from this position that we may not realize is that our upper chest muscles constrict, and often for those who do a lot of computer work, these muscles are permanently taught. Opening up through the chest is a liberating release from the keyboard hunch. Find a doorway, and place hands and forearms along the doorframe, then allow yourself to lean forward. Try to release into the pose completely, holding it for several minutes. Feel free to experiment with the pose by moving your arms higher or lower in the doorway.

Sitting-on-a-ball-in-an-office

Use a Ball

Instead of your regular office chair, switch it up by using an exercise ball to sit on. By using a ball (and therefore no backrest), you are engaging core muscles all day, without even realizing it. Core strength is so important for so many aspects of overall strength and injury prevention. As an experiment, try using a ball instead of an office chair for a couple weeks and see if you don’t find yourself standing a little taller. Be sure to find a ball that allows you to sit at the correct height for your desk. If you are concerned about rolling away, they now make stands with wheels for exercise balls, so it has all of the roll around and stability of an office chair, with all of the benefits of an exercise ball).

Take-a-break

Take a break

As per the research by the Universities of Bristol and of Minnesota, mentioned above, you will be more productive after a walk, even a quick one. And as we can all attest, it just feels really good to not be looking at a computer screen for a few minutes. If you’re having difficulty integrating a little break in your day, set yourself an alarm or enlist an office friend to come for that break with you, and you will hold each other to it. After all, it will lead to better health and increased productivity! And if 20 minutes is too ambitious, go for 10, or 5 – a little break is better than no break at all.

So stand up for your health. Fight chronic inflammation and future illness by integrating small but effective movements into your everyday sitting at work. You will be doing yourself a huge favor and may immediately notice feeling less inflamed, stiff and even less tired at the end of the day. And if you have a favorite desk stretch, please benefit us all by sharing on our Facebook page. Here’s to a less time sitting at the computer, and to a more healthy you!

What’s so hot about hot springs? 5 Reasons to go for a soak

Hot springs are full-steam ahead on being the #1 luxury that vacationers prioritize when picking their holiday destination. Why? Not only are they great for post-ski socializing, they work wonders for your body, physically and mentally. Japan and Europe have known about the healing powers of hot springs for thousands of years, but Canada is also home to some of the best sources of balneotherapy–the therapeutic use of water for relieving pain, stress, skin woes and more.

Our lodge in British Columbia is fortunate enough to be located in Ainsworth, home of a large healing hot spring pool that was first visited by the Ktunaxa First Nations peoples, who recuperated in the hot water after a long day of hunting, fishing, and gathering roots and berries. Mountain Trek guests have unlimited access to this marvel of nature during their stay, and here’s why it’s important to take advantage of soaking in the hot mineral waters.

What is a hot spring?

A hot spring is an all-natural body of water that is warmed geothermally. One way to classify a hot spring is that it must be well above the temperature of the surrounding earth, and usually hot springs hover around the 100 degrees Fahrenheit mark. The temperature of a given hot spring depends on the heat supplied at depth (sometimes from a magma chamber), the rate at which the water flows, and if there is a mixture of cooler groundwater into the flow of hot water.

Where are they found?

Hot springs truly are the world’s original spa – interestingly, the term ‘spa’ originates from the town of Spa, Belgium, made famous for its hot springs. Typically, hot springs are found where there is volcanic activity or magma chambers, or where there are fault lines in the Earth.

Therapeutic Benefits

Hot springs have an especially high mineral content, because heated water can hold more dissolved solids. This means they contain everything from calcium, magnesium, silica, lithium, and even radium. In other words, they’re a multivitamin for the skin. The heat in hot springs envelopes and helps soothe aching muscles, and the minerals present in the water get soaked up by the skin, stimulating certain bodily processes.

Here’s how the combination of these minerals and the hot water help us:

Musculoskeletal problems: Documented in Chinese and Japanese history, hot springs have been used to aid with swollen joints, arthritis, muscle fatigue, ligament damage, and more.

Eczema: Chronically dry, flaky skin, otherwise known as eczema, is a skin condition that affects up to 15% of Americans and Canadians. Regularly soaking in hot springs has been found to reduce eczema itching and redness.

Nasal Congestion: The heat of the water, combined with sulphur, makes for a winning way to combat nasal congestion caused by the common cold, allergies, or even chest congestion.

Circulation: Sodium bicarbonate and calcium found in mineral hot springs help with good circulation in the body. This can have numerous positive impacts, including lowering blood pressure. The weightlessness that comes with floating in the water also helps improve circulation.

Relaxation: Never to be underestimated, is the power of de-stressing and relaxation. A stressed state can lead to all kinds of health complications, such as high blood pressure, depression, and an increase in the output of the stress hormone, cortisol. When cortisol is released in stress-induced doses, our hormones are thrown off balance, which affects our mood, immune system and metabolism. Long story short, if you’d like a faster metabolism and the ability to shed those pesky pounds, you’ve got to make sure your hormones are balanced.

In regards to the different minerals in hot springs and how they help our health, here’s the lowdown:

  • Magnesium: aids with clear complexion, and healthy-looking skin
  • Potassium: eliminates toxins and promotes healthy skin
  • Sodium: decreases inflammation in swollen joints, and can help the lymphatic system
  • Sulphur: helps with respiratory problems and skin inflammations

Don’t hesitate another moment–hurry over to a healing hot spring; the rewards you’ll reap are thoroughly worth it. Or, come visit us and use ours!

Why There’s No Caffeine At Mountain Trek

The short answer? The Mountain Trek program seeks to balance your hormones for optimal health. For most people, caffeine increases cortisol — and cortisol negatively impacts your metabolism.

Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone, and it operates inversely to DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) — the “youth” or “rejuvenating hormone.” DHEA builds muscle, burns calories, and lowers inflammation. Cortisol is released when the body perceives that it needs to be in flight-or-fight mode, which results in muscle loss, bone density loss, calorie storage, and chronic inflammation (the body uses its own muscle stores to be ready for extreme exertion and stores as many calories as possible to prepare for any possible famine or lack of readily available nutrients).

The Mountain Trek Program is designed specifically to rebalance these two crucial metabolic hormones in order to get your body into a state of growth metabolism (burning calories, building muscle) as opposed to decay metabolism (muscle loss, calorie storage). If your hormones aren’t balanced, you won’t be able to get deep sleep or achieve your ideal body composition of muscle-to-fat. Unbalanced hormones are one of the core reasons that people can’t seem to lose those last 5-10 pounds (or “muffin top”).

Most North Americans are experiencing long-term, heightened levels of cortisol: between high work stress, lack of vacation time, inadequate sleep, and many more daily stressors, our systems are entirely overloaded. That’s why we cut out caffeine at Mountain Trek — not because caffeine is evil or bad, but because it’s one quick way to immediately reduce cortisol.
Eliminating caffeine is just part of our induction, and helps rebalance and reset the body’s hormones. We certainly don’t expect people to remove caffeine from their lives altogether — but for our induction phase, it’s important for resetting hormones to their ideal balance. During the program, you’ll learn about the best and healthiest ways to incorporate caffeine into your regimen.

If you’re ready for the full experience, join us at our health, wellness and stress retreat — we’ve just announced rates and dates for 2019! Click here to plan your trip.

What’s so hot about Hot Springs? Reasons to go for a soak

What’s so hot about Hot Springs?It’s been coming up more and more in our day-to-day reading, for tourism, spa facilities, or general health and wellness; steam from Hot Springs’ benefits is fogging up general discussion. It seems as though our original spa encounter is making an encore to the centre stage for a healthy, enjoyable activity.

Our British Columbia location, besides having that spectacular view out over Kootenay Lake and to the Purcell Mountain Range, has the added bonus of the all-natural soak: hot springs are featured literally just a stone’s throw from our lodge, and guests have unlimited access to this marvel of nature during their stay at the Mountain Trek Alpine Lodge. For this reason, and the surge in hot springs popularity, we wanted to know: just what is so hot about hot springs, anyway?

What is a hot spring?

A hot spring is an all natural body of water that is warmed geothermally. One way to classify a hot spring is that it must be well above the temperature of the surrounding earth, and usually hot springs hover around the 100 degrees Fahrenheit mark. The temperature of a given hot spring is dependent on a few different factors; the heat supplied at depth (sometimes from a magma chamber), the rate at which the water flows, and if there is a mixture of cooler groundwater into the flow of hot water.

Where are they found?

Hot springs truly are the world’s original spa – interestingly, the term ‘spa’ originates from the town of Spa, Belgium, made famous for its hot springs. Typically, hot springs are found where there is volcanic activity or magma chambers, or where there are fault lines in the Earth. This being the case, there are hot springs all over the world; USA, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Japan (those going on the Mountain Trek Adventure Trek to Japan later this month are going to surely going to enjoy these), and Canada, including even right here in our own backyard at our British Columbia location.

Therapeutic Benefits

Due to the folklore and health benefits of hot springs, it is no wonder they are a popular tourist destination, and increasingly more so these days, as well as being used regularly as a form of therapy or for rehabilitation.

Hot springs have an especially high mineral content, because heated water can hold more dissolved solids. This means a given hot spring can contain everything from calcium, magnesium, silica, lithium, and even radium. Like a multivitamin for the skin! Sulphur in particular explains that pleasant aroma springs can sometimes have – dissolved sulphur in the water is converted to hydrogen sulphide by way of bacteria, explaining this harmless but undesirable ‘rotten egg’ smell that some hot springs are blessed with.

The heat in hot springs envelopes and helps soothe aching muscles, and the minerals present in the water get soaked up by the skin, and stimulate certain bodily processes. So how exactly do the combination of these minerals and this hot water, help us?

Musculoskeletal problems: Documented in Chinese and Japanese history, hot springs have been used to aid with swollen joints, arthritis, muscle fatigue, ligament damage, and more.

Eczema: Chronically dry, flaky skin, otherwise known as eczema, is a skin condition that affects up to 15% of Americans and Canadians. Regularly soaking in hot springs has been found to reduce eczema itching, redness, and cover.

Nasal Congestion: The heat of the water combined with sulphur makes for a winning combination to combat nasal congestion, whether this is due to common cold, allergies, or even chest congestion.

Circulation: Specifically, sodium bicarbonate and calcium found in mineral hot springs help with good circulation in the body. This can have numerous positive impacts, including lower blood pressure. The weightlessness that comes with floating in the water also helps for good circulation.

Relaxation: Never to be underestimated, is the power of de-stressing and relaxation. A stressed state can lead to all kinds of health complications, such as high blood pressure, depression, and an increase in the output of the stress hormone, cortisol. When Cortisol is released in stress-induced doses, this can mess with our hormonal balance, which in turn, unfortunately affects just about everything, including our mood, our immune system, and our metabolism. As in, the key to a faster metabolism and being able to shed those pounds, is having balanced hormones, not stressed, unbalanced hormones. So whatever your method of choice, whether you relax with hot springs, a good book, or both, make sure you do invest in yourself through stress reduction and relaxation.

Conversely, let’s look at it from the perspective of the different minerals present in hot springs, and how they help our health:

  • Magnesium: aids with clear complexion, and healthy looking skin
  • Potassium: eliminates toxins and promotes healthy skin
  • Sodium: decreases inflammation in swollen joints, and can help the lymphatic system
  • Sulphur: helps with respiratory problems and skin inflammations

And depending on the hot spring you are visiting, there are likely many more minerals present in the water. As a word of caution, hot springs can sometimes be too hot for those with very high blood pressure, certain heart conditions, and less robust immune systems, such as pregnant women, seniors, and kids. These people should take special precaution if they choose to delight in one of nature’s most sacred playgrounds.

Something we have been enjoying for thousands of years, hot springs have made it to the top of our activity, relaxation and health list for a reason! I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to go for a soak…

Thriving During The Holidays

How to stay healthy throughout the holidays.

How to stay healthy throughout the holidays.

The Key To Surviving The Holidays? Kindness.

The holidays can be a fraught time for health goals. With an influx of food, family, and oftentimes stress, many people feel overwhelmed and powerless to maintain a healthy balance.

At Mountain Trek’s fitness retreat and health spa, we spend all week detoxing from what the body, mind and spirit don’t need (caffeine, empty calories, technology, stressful environments), and instead spend all of our time feeding our souls: with hale and hearty meals, 4-5 hours of cleansing physical activity in the pristine mountain air, and deep, restful sleep.

This lifestyle isn’t realistic for many — and is especially difficult around the holiday season — and towards the end of the week at Mountain Trek’s health and wellness retreat, we discuss the journey of goal-setting and habit formation, and how to take elements of what we experience in the program and apply it to your busy daily lives. Our biggest piece of advice tends to surprise people: The only thing you must do every day to make a serious change: Practice self-kindness. Being compassionate and understanding with oneself is the cornerstone of success.

A treat now and then or missed week of exercise won’t kill you — but the quest for perfection might.

Perfect is a myth. Perfection is the enemy of progress. Aspire to live healthfully 5 days a week, and give yourself 2 days off. One thing we see time and time again: People (Americans, especially) focus on perfection: They want to exercise 7 days a week, to journal every single day, and to never have a drop of wine ever again! This is not the successful path to meaningful change — by setting yourself up for failure, you sabotage your goals.

Your ultimate obstruction isn’t calories or sedentarism: It’s negative self-talk.

Keeping your thoughts and actions self-supportive is crucial in any long-term health goal. Creating a daily practice of self-care is the cornerstone of success. Too often, one setback sets people into a tailspin of guilt and shame, and the memory of guilt and shame stops them from pursuing the initial goal. You must create space for yourself to fall off track. You must give yourself permission to be human.

Reward your intention to do your best — whether you fulfill the goals, or not.

Navigating our modern world — replete with foods bereft of nutrition, stressful city environments, at the total mercy of our devices — is the warrior’s path. It’s not easy, and there’s no button or quick solution. Kale isn’t the answer — neither is the newest workout fad or the most expensive blender money can buy. You must respect, love, and honor yourself before you can truly make everything we teach at Mountain Trek truly work.

If you’re ready to commit to change, ready to grow and deepen your relationship to yourself, your truth, and the breathtaking outdoors, click here to view rates and dates at Mountain Trek for 2018. Shepherding people back to their essential selves is our life’s work — come to our mountain lodge in Nelson, BC, and find out what the mountain has to offer.

Easy Ways to Digital Detox

Easy Tips for Digital Detox

"Digital detox" is a buzz phrase we're hearing more of lately but what exactly is it and why should we do it? After all, isn't technology meant to improve our lives, helping us keep more connected and freeing up time so we can concentrate on other things?

It's true technology has vastly improved certain aspects or our day-to-day but our relationship to digital devices is changing at a rapid pace and it's important to notice the specific impacts on your life. And to do this, we need to take a step back and discuss toxins, detoxifying and the role of digital media and devices in all of this.

What is Toxic Load? 

A toxin isn't just a form of poison that enters your body. Toxic load can also be mental or emotional. It is the result of stagnation through repetition. When there is a build-up of patterns that block energy, we become inflamed and constricted – we lose the natural flow state of expansion and contraction. This could be the increasing pattern of attention span interruption or multi-tasking at work, due to the constant repetitive information signals to our brain from our digital devices. It could be the build up of bio-waste and chemical compounds in our body due to the repetitive sitting we do, which limits circulation and elimination. Even our social world can become stagnant if we are not going deeper than social media for our heartfelt interactions.

Why is Detoxifying Important?

Detoxifying is the process of supporting a flow state in our whole being. When we take a break from ongoing patterns and habits, we recalibrate and become "lighter of being." Our mind, body and emotional states are interconnected. By taking a break from incessant incoming info bites, not only does our mind get a break from vigilance, but our stress hormone Cortisol gets a chance to lower, which in turn supports sleep, appetite and energy levels. When we move our body (ideally 10,000 steps a day), our circulation, lymph drainage and elimination organs (liver, kidney's, intestines, lungs and sweat glands) release waste and unhealthy chemicals. And on an emotional level, having an intimate conversation with someone we trust allows the weight of our concerns to be released.

What's the Best Way to Digital Detox?

Digital detox goes beyond just spending less time in front of your iPad, phone or computer. There are other aspects that can be incorporated to ensure a full detox experience. Here are three easy ways to do it: 

  1. Electronic Devices: Shut all electronics down one hour before bed. This will allow your Cortisol to drop and will support better sleep. Take that hour to do some restorative yoga, have an Epsom salt bath, or give and receive a massage, all of which aid in toxin release and deep regenerative sleep.
  2. Move More: It's not enough to be away from your devices for awhile and then just sit there waiting for the chance to check them again. Get up! Dance, walk, skate, swim. Keep the blood pumping, Breath deep. All of this will help your elimination system, decrease inflammation and increase a flow state.
  3. Eat Veggies: It may seem odd to mention food when discussing digital detox but the fact is by eating more vegetables, which contain more fiber and antioxidants, you're helping your elimination system and supporting a lean and clean body. In other words, the more veggies you eat, the more you'll want to move around, meet friends in person, get outside, and generally enjoy a fuller life.

Of course, the best way to digital detox is to take a break from your day-to-day life and immerse yourself in nature. Click here to learn more about how Mountain Trek supports digital detox through its program. 

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The Importance of Digital Detox and How To Do It

How to Digital Detox

Recently we’ve had many journalists asking about our digital detox program at Mountain Trek. As many of us become addicted to our smart phones, tablets, wristbands and smart watches, laptops and anything else with a screen, it’s that much more important to remember to take time away from all things digital. That’s why it’s so great to visit Mountain Trek because we’re immersed in the most beautiful natural environment in North America – one in which it’s impossible to get cell coverage for large parts of the day because we’re hiking in mountain landscapes.

Why are we hearing so much about digital detox these days?

Why is digital detoxing important?

So why are we hearing more and more about digital detox lately? According to the latest polls conducted by research corporation Ipsos, 40% of adults feel the need to ‘disconnect” and 71% of respondents claim they’re spending less time connecting with people face-to-face due to gadgetry. Aside from the negative social ramifications, this digital dependence also comes with health costs: digital screens can contribute to visual fatigue, headaches, and strain of the body from being stationary for so long. Also the intense white-blue back light of our screens raise our “wake-up” and stress hormone Cortisol, often overriding our sleep inducing hormone Melatonin. Other studies have found that technology contributes to higher stress, strains on relationships and family and attention disorders.

Why are digital devices so addictive?

Why are devices so addictive?

If you can’t help but check your smart phone immediately after waking up and then continually throughout the day every few minutes, you’re not alone. Our bodies actually crave the results of shared information via our screened devices – we’re hard-wired for it! This is why: hundreds of thousands of years ago when the ancestors of homo sapiens walked the earth they developed physical reactions to information. When knowledge was shared (or the promise of knowledge) that could make life easier and ensure survival, their brains were flooded with dopamine, the feel-good hormone.

The same is true today. Research shows that our prehistoric brains still flood us with dopamine when our smart phones “ping” to let us know there’s potential knowledge or survival tools waiting for us to discover. Each tweet, text or email is a little gift-wrapped packet that might make a difference to our survival. At the same time our Limbic brains are reassured that we’re socially connected. It’s the perfect formula resulting in us feeling “good” every time we receive a notification through our digital device.

Why is this addiction so dangerous?

Why is a digital addiction so dangerous?

The problem with this scenario is that our brain is actually being fooled: very few of us receive survival tools via our Twitter or Facebook feeds and, overall, our social media interaction is incredibly shallow. This leads to “solitarism” – a buzzword you’ll be hearing a lot more of in the coming years as people suffer loneliness despite being “connected” via multiple social media streams.

How does Mountain Trek support digital detox?

While there is WiFi in the Mountain Trek lodge, we ensure guests do not use their smart phones and devices in the common areas and we do not have a television, radio, nor any news media on site. This is because our aim is to lower the stress hormone Cortisol in your body so you can reclaim the health benefits of a raised metabolism. In other words, we want our experience to be all about you and your own health and that means there isn’t a lot of external stimuli pulling you away from your goals.

Here are our top 6 ways to enjoy digital detox during the days when you’re not enrolled in the Mountain Trek program:

Plan with intent

Having a plan in place sets yourself up for success. Be clear about what you’ll give up, for how long, and when. If you’re agreeing not to check email in the evening, be clear about exactly what hours and what days this takes effect. Going into this with clear intention will also allow you to monitor very clearly your own reactions to digital breaks, and plan for responses of how to deal with any jonesing. Develop your plan, and stick to it. As you tally your victories, you can expand your goals.

Start slow

If you’re checking your email every 10 minutes, a week away without your Blackberry may induce heart palpitations. If you’re going to your son’s soccer game, for example, make a point and a plan to leave your cellphone in the car with the intention of not checking it for those 2 hours. Start slowly, and gradually, and this will be the key to breaking any dependence.

Tell friends and family

You don’t want them to think you’re MIA – to avoid unnecessary worry and to enlist support, let your friends and family in on your digital detox plan. And who knows, maybe they’ll even join you on that walk in your National Park, and you can both go tech free for the afternoon!

Learn from your detox

The goal of a detox isn’t to see how long you can go without doing something, only to breathe a sigh of relief at the end and jump back into old patterns wholeheartedly. Use the tech detox not only to see that you can live without your gadgets and the world won’t stop, but also to learn about yourself, what you like doing when monitors and screens aren’t involved, and with this, you can integrate new hobbies and patterns into your every day.

Plan alternatives

When you decide to stop or reduce online time, you will create a void in your time. Filling the void with enjoyable activities is key to beating any gadget addiction. This is where our helpful hints list “7 Fun Things you can do Instead of checking Your Email” can be helpful.

Create a tech-free zone

Pick a space in your home, preferably in a public area like your living room. This will encourage more ‘live’ conversation, more gadget-free activities, and less ‘auto-pilot’ of entering the room and turning on the computer or TV. Alternatively, have a family agreement to turn off the modem or WiFi at a certain time in the evening.

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Digital Detox: Top tips to manage gadgetry for a stress-free life

 

Is your smart phone at your hip like a doctor’s pager, easily accessible and almost as important? Do you spend more time checking your phone than looking at your lunch date? Do you find yourself checking Facebook likes and retweets at frequent intervals throughout the day, and experience anxiety if you go a little longer without clicking those little icons, or heaven forbid if you forget your phone at home? You’re not alone – the Western world is officially dependent on technology, and we don’t go long without checking a screen; computer, phone, ipod/ipad, tv,…and the list goes on.

If we are looking for gadget detox solutions for the every day, how can we make strides towards a relationship with technology that is less dependent?

Digital Detox Tips

7 Fun Things You Can Do Instead of Checking Your Email (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

  1. Get reading – go back to an original real book and put down the ebook!
  2. Give your eyes a rest from the screen and treat yourself to a night at the theatre
  3. Have a good stretch; whether 10 minutes sitting in a chair, or going to a local yoga class, we could all use a little more stretching
  4. Get some fresh air! Go for a walk, hike or a bike ride – even for just a few minutes, the fresh air revitalizes immensely
  5. Get creative – accomplishing a creative endeavour not only brings a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment, but can be a tangible, beautiful result of a time spent not in front of a screen! This is also a great option for gadgetry detoxing the kids.
  6. Cooking project – make a big batch of soup for the freezer for ready-meals, or make a bean salad for dinner and a few work lunches. Test out some of the delicious recipes you enjoyed at Mountain Trek!
  7. Have company – Engage in any of the above with a loved one! Face to face interaction rather than online interactions have been proven to bring up mood, reduce more stress and release more pleasure hormones. So rather than chatting online, go out for a tea or a walk!

Challenge: Try having one day a week of digital detox, where you turn off the computer (no emails, no surfing, no blogging) or turn your phone off. See what fun you can have without being plugged in and how you feel after having that cleanse.

Digital Detox Tips

Technology as friend, not foe

After integrating the digital detox practices into your life, you can use them to your advantage to promote a healthy lifestyle (as their use was originally intended, we’d like to think!). Rather than a dependent relationship with technology, we can use it as one tool of many in our pursuit of our health goals.

Health apps: More applications exist for our smart phones than we could ever dream up, but there are a fair few useful tools at our disposal, such as; calorie counting apps for through out the day, pedometer apps, etc.

Alarms and reminders: if you spend the majority of your time on or near a computer, use it to your advantage! Set reminders or alarms to remind yourself when to have that healthy snack, or when to get up and go for a 15 minute walk to stretch the muscles and get some fresh air.

Tip: Use your computer or smart phone’s calendar to organize your week; when you’ll go swimming at the pool, when you’ll go to that pump class, and you can even schedule in the time to go for an after dinner walk with your partner. Treating all these aspects of your health as ‘real’ and important appointments will make you less inclined to ditch them.

Your digital detox, like any detox, is important to cleanse and grow towards more desirable habits in your every day. Learning to use technology as a tool towards our goals, as opposed to an addiction is sure to benefit us in the long run. And who knows, while you’re not online, you may just discover something fun that you love doing, unplugged or not!

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