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What It’s Like To Escape Into The Woods Without Social Media

Getaway was the perfect reset button for me to reignite my productivity and social media habits. And I want to give you the full scoop.

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There’s nothing like spending a day or two off social media, am I right? 

During the pandemic, our days have been consumed by these apps, often because of the lack of boundaries we set at home.  While I feel like I’ve adjusted to my work-from-home environment, my tech/life balance has leaned more toward the tech side than I would like to admit. With limited social interactions and a lack of live entertainment and events, I don’t think I’m the only one who has reverted to technology for company. 

As a digital wellness coach and founder of a tech-free community, living in a time where digital interaction is more available than in real life is challenging — to say the least. Human connection not only keeps me happy, but it also allows me a much-needed escape from the digital world. Even though I’m starting to feel at peace with this new lifestyle,  I knew it was time for a digital detox where I could reconnect to my roots. In fact, it was long overdue.

Thankfully there was Getaway, a company designed to assist you in unplugging by immersing you in nature. With limited social interactions, it’s no wonder our screen-time is as high as 13 hours per day (and why companies like Getaway are getting more popular). I’ve personally been a huge fan of the company for years, and I was so excited when I finally booked my first escape early in September.

Since I was only going to be at Getaway for one night in their Catskills East location, I decided to take a 48-hour break from social media. I wanted to use this time to be fully present with myself (and my friend, who I invited to join me). Over the past six months, I’ve noticed how spending copious amounts of time on social media has left me disoriented, distracted, and somewhat depressed. 

Before the pandemic, I had created healthy boundaries with my phone usage. I wouldn’t check it until after my morning workout, and I charged it in another room overnight. Additionally, I would spend my weekends as tech-free as possible and go on a full detox a couple of times a year for a day or two. Without a vacation to fully escape this year, Getaway was the perfect reset button for me to reignite my productivity and social media habits. And I want to give you the full scoop.

Before checking into our cabin, we embarked on a seven-mile hike called Giant Ledge that was truly an uphill battle. Despite the rocky terrain, the combination of no service and nature inspired far deeper conversation than either of us expected. We had philosophical discussions about our respective purposes, talked about where we go after we die, and how our family has influenced us. Every so often, my friend would stop me, close her eyes, and embrace the silence. We did this four or five times on our hike, stopping periodically to inhale the fresh air and truly enjoy nature.

The minute we arrived at Getaway, I understood why people gravitate toward these exclusive and reclusive cabins in the woods. The company had texted our cabin, Moise (each named after Grandparents of the employees) and passcode beforehand. Each cabin is far enough away from one another that you barely notice other guests around you. Additionally, there’s a quiet rule so that you begin to actually hear your thoughts again (intermingled with the sounds of nature). But what the cabins are most known for are their vast floor-to-ceiling windows next to the beds that overlook the woods.

Although tiny in size, the interior space is clearly designed to capitalize on every corner. Each corner of the cabin is utilized — a bench rests under the bed for extra seating, the shelves above the kitchen filled with activities and a radio. All of these items (along with an activity kit that had ‘36 ways to Get Away’ and a map of hikes in the area) made me feel like I was in a different time.  Perhaps the most exciting items left for us were the crayons and s’mores kit — both playful items that evoked a childlike wonder in me (a long-forgotten feeling that Getaway so cleverly tapped into).

After spending so much time on social media, I must admit that it was not easy  to pull away at first. On the first day of the detox, I found that my thumb gravitated toward Instagram time and time again. I had to remind myself not to open the app and that I was taking 48 hours away from scrolling. Thankfully, Getaway thought of this too and provided each cabin with a cell phone box to hide your phone.

As the evening progressed, we made our bonfire, ate s’mores, and burnt marshmallows. Afterward, I brought out our first evening activity, a question game on empathy by Actually Curious. Here we learned more about one another as we watched the fire and listened to powerful nature sounds; here, crickets and other forest creatures created signature sounds that are as loud and distinctive as NYC fire trucks or police cars. As we played the game, we watched the full moon rise and pool its light onto us through the branches.

Our second activity was Mad Libs, a crowd-pleaser from childhood that held its own. Laughing fits ensued to the point where I clutched my stomach and had tears streaming down my face. After the game night, we fell asleep in pure darkness, sunk into silence (and an insanely soft mattress), and happily woke up to cheerful bird sounds and the sun igniting the room with its gentle morning glow.

Before heading back to the city, we took a brisk morning hike to Kaaterskill Falls. Although more crowded than the previous day’s hike, the views and lookouts proved even more breathtaking. We climbed close to the base of the cascading waterfall, basked in its mist and never-ending supply. Again, we sat in silence, content to just be. We didn’t force the next thought or movement, and we were perfectly comfortable in our bodies and each other’s presence.

The rejuvenation I felt from those 48 hours stuck with me well into the following week. I spent the remainder of the weekend offline, with no desire to return to the hectic energy and overwhelm of social media. I found myself more drawn to analog activities in the evening rather than TV, such as reading or painting. I even decided to handwrite the first draft of this article, which felt both poignant and correct. 

After all, shouldn’t we all be able to sit in silence without the distraction of notifications, tabs, or an unlimited search engine? After Getaway, I have a newfound appreciation for the long-form, playful, and thought-provoking methods of accomplishing tasks. And although more arduous, I’ve come to remember that there’s nothing that silence can’t accomplish. 

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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