Life in Saigon has resumed to normal from COVID-19 for several weeks now, and so has the city’s infamous hustle and bustle. This lively city felt suffocating after a month of calm. The Vietnamese government successfully kept the COVID-19 pandemic under control, in what felt like a flip of a switch. Just as suddenly as the city went quiet, it came back alive with compounded energy akin to millions of freed birds. Within days, I lamented the slower pace of life.
Weekly Rest Day
For two months now, I’ve been attempting to re-implement a weekly rest day, a practice I had learned from our Workaway farm stay in Uruguay. Our host family practiced Sabbath, and they went through the effort to cook all of their meals and clean the house the day before to have a truly relaxing day of rest each Saturday. To practice rest with such intention is in line with my goal to live more intentionally in 2020.
I’ve had mixed success with the weekly rest day. The three requirements I have for rest day are: 1. Do very little. Ideally, lounging all day to read books and write in my journal. 2. No tech – life on airplane mode. 3. No socialization – a day for me and my thoughts and quality time with Xav. Easier said than done. Being intentional about rest isn’t something I’m used to, and it often gets low priority. I find myself putting off many of the life admin and blog work to the weekend, and then I struggle to decide which day I will devote entirely to rest.
Reset with a Restful Weekend
When friends told us about a no-frills resort outside of Ho Chi Minh City in Cu Chi, we booked for a weekend getaway immediately. To heighten the benefit of reprieve, I decided to be on airplane mode for the entire weekend. And no, not the new snazzy airplane mode where you can buy WiFi access. The rare opportunity to be wholly disconnected from the world is one of the reasons I enjoy flying. While I am on the fence to recommend this particular resort, I can 100% recommend a weekend on airplane mode.
The weekend away was a perfect opportunity to hit the reset button on rest. Before departing, I spent half of the day cleaning the house. I want to ensure the feeling of relaxation can last upon returning, and a clean house definitely helps. Once we got into the car, I flipped my phone to airplane mode. For the first few hours, there is muscle memory to tap into certain apps, but a pop-up requesting data deters me from continuing.
Switch on Airplane Mode
Upon arriving at our cabin, I stored the phone away. For the next 48 hours, we were in max relaxation mode of pool – reading – bike ride – pool – dinner – sleep – repeat. I had brought a physical book and my old-school Kindle that’s also on airplane mode for my reading. The mind takes about half a day to forget about the world that’s not immediately in front of us. Once in the zone, the relaxed feeling made apparent what unconscious burden it is to live in a hyper-connected world.
On Sunday evening, feeling marvelously relaxed and well-rested, I reluctantly flipped my phone to be connected again. Within seconds, the accumulated push notifications overwhelmed me. Some people wondered why I hadn’t responded to texts. After a few quick replies, I turned the phone back to airplane mode, attempting to hold onto that feeling of relaxation just a little longer, until Monday morning.
Tips to Rest Better
Having hit the reset button and feeling delightfully rested, here are a few takeaways on how I can continue to rest better with airplane mode:
- Plan the rest day as if I’m going away: Telling friends we were going away for the weekend was an effective way to be left alone. We can have this effect as easily in the city by simply stating that Sunday is a rest day, so we can’t join xyz. I love my friends, but the rest day deserves priority.
- Ensure no rest day activity requires the phone: Prepare meals ahead, download the book or movie I want to read or watch, and only walk to places I know and don’t require maps. I should turn on airplane mode, and then leave the phone stored away.
- Nightly airplane mode: I’ve been pretty good about sleeping with the phone on airplane mode. But, I have a terrible habit of turning it on before I even get out of the bed, hence, catching up on updates while still in a horizontal position. I should extend this mode earlier in the evening, and only turn the phone back on when I am sitting upright with a cup of coffee in hand. (I use Sleep Cycle to track my sleep quality, hence why I have the phone near me at all.)
- Writing with Airplane Mode: I noticed I had a lot more creative thoughts over the weekend while lounging by the pool, in between chapters of my book. As I am writing this, I decided to flip on airplane mode. It helps me to focus my mind, and not become distracted by any “research” that I tell myself I need. Those can come later, but first, jot down the thoughts.
- Clean up notifications: It was eye-opening to have all of my phone’s push notifications come in at once. I realized how many of them are totally unnecessary, but chips away my attention throughout the day. I took some time to disable them or even delete the app completely.
I’ve attempted various forms of digital detox for over a decade, but this is the most attempt I’ve made to have regular detox built into my daily life. I love our hyperconnected world, to live a global life and still feel connected to friends and family. But all things in moderation, and to live intentionally requires intentional use of our connectivity. I hope you derive some value from my experience and will build airplane mode for better rest into your daily lives as well!