Step one: switch off your phone, your tablet, your pc, your laptop, your TV and every other machine that seems to be controlling your life. Instant freedom.

Have you ever travelled to a place without Wi Fi or an internet connection? With no newspapers and no network coverage whatsoever?

After experiencing some minor withdrawal symptoms and panic attacks (the dreaded FOMO), you will quickly realize nobody really misses you, your friends can eat pizza without you, the 3.685 newsletters you receive each day will still be there to be deleted without a second glance when you get back, your colleagues were glad to be left alone for a change, and your cat did not die.

It is something we gladly accept when travelling, but as soon as we get back we have this idea that living without technology is a dream and that if we really want to get some rest, we either have to quit social media altogether or pay good money for fancy workshops to teach you to ‘disconnect’. But you don’t need to quit anything, and you don’t need to pay anyone. Just switch off your f*ng phone and taste the food in your mouth.

Seagull in Russia

The air that we breath is still free (for now).

Step two: breath. No seriously, breath I said.

Instead of driving like a maniac, switching queues in the supermarket because the student at your cash register is too damn slow, running like hell because you want to catch that train/metro/bus for fear of arriving 15 minutes late even if it means stinking of sweat, eating your lunch in 5 minutes because your boss wanted that report two days ago but you forgot because you were busy checking Facebook, or sewing like mad for 3 days straight because all the other moms at school are making Halloween costumes themselves and you don’t want your daughter to think you don’t love her, ….. just breath.

BREATH. And look around. And sing while you drive just a tiny bit slower. And take the next train please, because I can’t stand your smell.

Russia-stop and read.

Stop and read.

Step three: read. Read a really nice long book. And don’t read it just before falling asleep, because then you don’t remember shit when you wake up next morning. And don’t you dare read non-fiction.

Instead of shopping on a Saturday when every other crazy person goes shopping, eat out or order your shopping to be delivered home. Take your kids to a playground for a few hours and ignore the other parents. Better yet, if your children are old enough, tell them they can play just fine on their own for a while. Forget your housekeeping, your clothes will just get dirty again. It’s a Saturday for your client too, you really don’t need to call him/her and yes, you still have the job on Monday.

Make tea, make coffee, take a glass of overpriced bio juice, make sure the cookie jar is close at hand, and sit down.

And read.

The old oak at the village of Kaggevinne near Diest

The tree doesn’t mind you walking.

Step four: take a walk.

There’s this great thing called ‘a tree’. It’s brown and green and when standing in groups you call them ‘a forest’. If there’s a little bit more grass (it’s that soft green carpet under your feet that’s quite wet in the morning) and you can hear other people laughing and children playing, it’s called ‘a park’. If you can hear cars, music, screaming children and nervous people shouting over each other, it’s a shopping street on a Saturday and you should be reading.

It’s amazing what a walk can do. If you hate being alone that’s no problem, I’m sure your friends can use a walk too. If you think walking is not cool, try imagining people all standing around taking the same photograph (of themselves). If you really don’t know how to enjoy a walk, pay a mindfulness coach or your grandmother and they will teach you how to shut up and listen and look at the world around you. And yes, your phone is switched off for the walk. You can look for another tree to put on Instagram later on, your followers will not see the difference.

Balloon in Belgium

Walk. Drive. Bike. Swim. Fly. Travel.

Step five: If you have the budget, travel.

Taking a vacation in a hotel at the Spanish coast with 5.000 other people fighting over a place at the pool, is not travelling. Trying to look for a restaurant that serves the same food you eat at home, is not travelling.

Travelling is going somewhere that you cannot call home. Travelling is when you go abroad. Or not and decide to explore your own city/village/region in a way you’ve never done before. Travelling is when you go somewhere and expect to be surprised. Travelling is going somewhere and realising people are not all the same. It is learning to say hello and thank you in another language, because you don’t expect everyone to speak yours. Travelling is learning to leave yourself behind now and then.

If you don’t have the money to travel, repeat steps one to four as often as you can.

And enjoy your freedom.