MCX Top 5 Reasons to try a Digital Detox in the Desert:
- Feel like a time traveller, get back to basics.
- A renewed appreciation! Reconnect with what matters in life.
- Time to really think, zero distractions.
- The ultimate environment for mindfulness.
- Shake up your routine, feel life’s natural rhythm.
The excesses of the festive period in December provide the fitness and food industries in January with a nation full to the brim of indulgence and hungry for a healthier lifestyle. For many people though, the dawn of a new year presents a platform for more than just improvements to physical fitness. A psychological fresh start and renewed sense of appetite for the year ahead is something that carries a more elusive value. In this article, we talk to the owners of MCX and ask them about the benefits of a digital detox holiday in some of the world’s most beautiful off grid travel destinations. If you want to get fit this year then you’ll no doubt find a gym nearby offering Body Pump. If you want to do something truly amazing though that leaves a lasting, positive effect on your psychological well-being, then read on to discover how slow travel in the desert could reboot your soul.
How does an MCX desert expedition help people to detox from technology and restore?
Tim Davies (MCX Founding Partner): “Recent decades have seen impressive technological improvement at breakneck speed. Computers and phones aren’t the only things that are connected these days. Cars, watches and even domestic homes are all connected and all sending us notifications. These advancements are undeniably good for humanity, with one caveat being that we exploit them in a balanced way. Right now, we are in a phase of pushing connectivity to the limit, applying it to every aspect of life and seeing how/if it might enhance our experiences in some way. The danger is taking this too far and becoming so connected that it starts to have a negative impact on us. We have already started to see some of the negative effects come to the fore in today’s society including disrupted sleep patterns, elevated stress levels, decreased concentration, headaches, nausea, and anxiety.
The aim when travelling with MCX is to completely get away from it all. The number one policy – after safety of course – is no connectivity. No mobile phones, no wifi, no phone signal. Everything is kept to the bare essentials. Satellite phones and an emergency GPS beacon is reserved for the guides. Say goodbye to technology for a while.”
Is anything being done to reduce the amount of time people are glued to their smartphones?
Sam McConnell (CEO and Founding Partner): “Fortunately, there are well publicised initial steps being taken to counter these effects, such as the introduction of ‘screen-time’ monitoring on smartphones, and the ability to turn off notifications or put time limits on some apps. This is especially helpful for the more vulnerable, susceptible people out there who just can’t seem to put their phones down. That being said, we are still an awfully long way off changing people’s perceptions and attitudes, and ultimately their behaviour.”
What is so special about the desert and desert life?
Sam McConnell: “One of the most unique aspects of slow travel in the desert is that there are absolutely no distractions at all. It’s no coincidence that most of the holy men for many of the oldest religions spent time wandering in the desert. It presents a delicate balance of physical challenge and harsh landscape where we must go back to basics to survive (unlike the polar regions where we actually need more kit to survive). Deserts are usually very quiet, which allows time for reflection, and often have a connection with ancient history, which encourages us to contemplate a time when we performed a simpler way of life.
Deserts are so perfect for thoughtfulness and the opportunity to think about what’s important in life. You are completely removed from any temptation with zero distractions. All you have is what I’d like to call three ‘modern luxuries’ – these are time, space, and quietness.”
What changes do you see in people in the desert?
Tim Davies: “Above all, one of the reactions we always witness in people is greater overall appreciation. Not just of the little things – e.g. running water, warm clothes, a soft bed – but also of the things that really matter like friends, family and relationships. This often naturally gives way to a healthier sense of perspective. The time for reflection, coupled with physical challenge, and awe-inspiring landscapes, recalibrate your mind and body. It shakes up your routine, breaks bad habits, and allows you the opportunity for new, good ones. It’s very easy to find yourself aspiring to shallow, empty goals. We all look for fulfilment, and many times not in the right places. Repeated time away from advertising, notifications, news (real or fake), and social media help you see that this content is actually not very important.”
How does the desert make you feel?
Tim Davies: "Like a time traveller! It’s hard not to feel like this when you go back to basics, live simply, and emulate our ancestors. The desert also makes me feel more relaxed. My whirring mind slows down and concentrates on what is in front of me as I become completely engrossed in the task at hand and the rhythm of the day. I feel like I am discovering a new place because we are so remote and cut off from the outside world. I’ve also experienced an immense sense of renewed confidence, as we learn to be totally self-sufficient in a beautiful but challenging environment."
Sam McConnell: "In the desert you are forced to be yourself as any blagging or bullshit quickly becomes transparent. There is nothing to hide behind! No mask of social media, wealth, or ‘important’ job titles. Being stripped back to such a natural position gives me an immense feeling of relief. Although disconcerting at first, because you feel very exposed, eventually, in the right company and environment, you learn to relax and, in a way, discover who you actually are, rather than who you are just projecting constantly to others. People that have travelled with us have learnt to appreciate their real selves, and their need to project an image is removed."
Thanks Sam and Tim for the amazing insight into the softer, emotional side of desert expeditions and the potential psychological benefits of such a unique, life-changing experience. Look out for more news and articles via social media on the MCX Blog. Soon, we’ll be leafing through MCX’s favourite campfire reads and also having a look at how time in the desert can bolster overall well-being. If you know of anyone who would appreciate our content and would consider a desert expedition please do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.