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Ocean Grove-based organisation Destination Dreaming has expanded its programs to include individuals, families and corporates, as concern grows at the impacts of high internet use and decreasing connection with nature on mental health and sleep.
Destination Dreaming works with local Geelong and Bellarine schools to create educational partnerships with communities in the Asia Pacific region, and are now launching Off the Grid Retreats to provide similar opportunities for those beyond the schooling community.
Destination Dreaming founder Kate Miller, has worked with young people and families for over 12 years and says that Off the Grid is a response to years of requests from parents and teachers to offer a similar experience, particularly as many families rate managing screen-time as one of their biggest challenges.
“Over the past decade we have witnessed an explosion in global connectedness, but also a significant shift in average anxiety levels, face-to-face communication skills and awareness of self. The constant fear of missing out, overload of information, social media addiction and lack of connection with the natural world is taking its toll on people of all ages,” Kate said.
This observation reflects the findings of numerous studies, including that of the Australian Psychological Society, which reports that the nagging feeling of missing out is detrimentally impacting the sleep, stress levels and interpersonal capacity of frequent teen users of social media. In the average Australian family, parents are connected to social media for 2.1 hours per day. Their teenage children log on more than five times per day, 60 per cent of whom feel ‘burnout’ from being constantly connected.
Miller says: “This is not a ‘digital detox’ that focuses on taking a break from the online world as a cure for all ills, or that views technology as the enemy. We aim to provide an experience that enhances the rich connections we have with our physical world, increases our awareness of self, and aids in developing a healthy way to manage our screen-time. The retreats are about getting back-to-basics, finding a fresh perspective, enjoying quiet space and ultimately having a blast.”
Off the Grid Retreat activities will focus on connection with nature and community, and include trekking, movement, mindfulness, cultural immersion and self-reflection activities. For 2017, programs are being offered in the remote highlands of Fiji and closer to home in the Otways. As with all Destination Dreaming programs, participants are required to leave all phones, digital devices and watches behind; to be replaced with adventure, sunsets and fresh air.
For information on how these retreats will assist Bellarine individuals and families to become more connected, content, and better manage their relationships in the digital age contact Kate Miller 0417 123 799.

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