Holidaying abroad or staycation – what will you choose this year? Isolation, being ‘pinged’ and the Green, Amber and Red restrictions mean that many of us will choose to remain in the UK this summer. That’s not a bad thing – there are some beautiful places to visit near to home.  If you’re looking for suggestions, why not plan a trip to Durham and visit the world-famous Cathedral and visit the equally amazing Beamish Museum! Not forgetting, of course, that the North East (including Sunderland) has some of the sandiest beaches in the UK – winning European awards year after year.

Research has shown that our increasing dependency on social media means that many people are not getting the rest that they need – especially when they go on holiday. In fact, free from workplace constraints, some people spend even more time on the web. There is no better time than a summer break to cut down our use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Email, and the Internet.

We have to recognise that for many people their main contact with the outside world is online (especially during these pandemic times with so communication much taking place on social media) and they would suggest not to give up on social media because you don’t know who is relying on you. I don’t stop using social media during the summer for this very reason. However, I think a happy medium can be reached. 

Taking time out to rest from the busyness of life is a Biblical principle and was established by God at the beginning of time in Genesis chapter one (the first book of the Bible) when, after creating ‘the heavens and the earth’, God rested on the seventh day – this is where the term ‘Sabbath’ comes from. Jesus, too, recognised the importance of rest and recovery from the daily grind and, in the Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament) he was often to be found jumping into a boat and crossing over to the other side of Lake Galilee to ‘escape’ from the crowds.  At other times, he would go up to a mountainside to reflect and pray.  This reminds us that Jesus, as well as being the Son of God, was also human and, just like us, struggled with tiredness and needed to take time out to recover.

Unfortunately, because of increased working commitments, Sunday trading and Sunday sport, many people do not have the opportunity for a day of rest from their busy routine and suffer the consequences of this, such as an increase in stress related illnesses and a breakdown in family relationships – which is why a refreshing summer break is so important. So, this summer, why not take time to switch off!

Switching off is good for your body
We all spend far too long hunched up staring down at screens. Let’s take the time to look up and gaze at real people (whether they are masked or unmasked!). Don’t forget that holidays are supposed to be where we rest and relax, and we can’t switch off if we are permanently switched on.

Switching off is good for your mind
Psychologists suggest that the overload of information we get from using the Internet is changing the way the brain works. Memory skills are in decline, and we no longer reason in a linear fashion, using sustained arguments, but, instead, think only in disconnected fragments. Many frequent users of the Internet confess to struggling to read through a chapter of a book. Switch off on holiday and, in digital silence, let your mind be at peace.

Switching off is good for your relationships
Holidays are an essential time to connect with those around us, whether a spouse, family, or friends. There are many couples, and families, living busy lives who go away on holiday needing to have issues discussed, bonds built or even wounds healed. Yet, sadly, this may not occur because they are too busy staring at their smartphones. To put social media before talking to your partner or family is to make a tragic statement about what matters most in your life.

Switching off is good for your spirit
Some people have such an intense relationship with their smart phone that it can only be described as idolatry – some may call it an addiction. We were created to relate to each other, and to God, and it’s all too easy for the digital world to get in the way of both relationships.

But what to do instead? Sometimes, you just run out of ideas what else to do. Our phones have become an extension of our hand. We’ve thus collected 40 activities that don’t involve a screen.

  1. Bake an apple pie
  2. Delete blurred photos
  3. Repot your plants
  4. Winterise your garden or dust off your garden furniture
  5. Take a course
  6. Hang up some pictures
  7. Volunteer at a local charity
  8. Read a book
  9. Take a long bath
  10. Go for a walk
  11. Declutter a drawer
  12. Work out in the gym
  13. Make some jam
  14. Meet a friend for a coffee
  15. Write a letter to a friend
  16. Visit the zoo
  17. Try out the adventure hiking trail
  18. Get a manicure and/or pedicure
  19. Listen to an audio book
  20. Meditate
  21. Build some Lego sculptures
  22. Solve a jigsaw
  23. Paint freestyle
  24. Ride your bike
  25. Get a massage
  26. File your recipes
  27. Take the recycling out
  28. Review which clothes still fit your kids
  29. Dance
  30. Have a nap
  31. Play some karaoke
  32. Do a soduku
  33. Play hide and seek
  34. Host a murder mystery dinner
  35. Walk along the beach
  36. Do a facial and/or hair mask
  37. Try a new recipe
  38. Have a chat with your neighbour
  39. Write a journal
  40. Pet an animal

If you really want to make the most of your summer holidays this year, digitally switch off whilst you’re away and re-connect with your spouse, your family, and friends and with God.  I pray that your ‘much needed’ summer holiday, whether at home or aboard, will ‘recharge your batteries’ both emotionally and physically.