Renegade Health Radio: 41 Digital Detox

Monday Mar 30 | BY |
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In this episode:

  • What is a “digital detox” and what exactly are the benefits?
  • The three tools we recommend to take a much-needed break from modern technologies such as smartphones and constant Internet access.
  • How to sleep better and lower your stress levels using this one simple tip.
  • Plus: Frederic comes back from one of the most remote corners of the planet and tells his story of being away from civilization and the BIG insight he had there!


Frederic: Hi, this is Frederic Patenaude with the Renegade Health Radio Podcast. Kevin, how are you doing today?

Kevin: I am doing fantastic. I’m excited to hear the story that you have about where you just were.

Frederic: Yeah because this ties on with our topic today, which is, ‘Digital Detox’. We’re going to talk about disconnecting from the internet and I disconnected recently I would say in a major way. Okay so let me put things in perspective. Kevin, do you know what an atoll is?

Kevin: I have no idea.

Frederic: Okay an atoll is an island, but if you look at a map of an atoll, it’s a reef island with only the islet that surrounds a lagoon, so it looks like a ring in the ocean, literally.

Kevin: I’ve seen pictures of those.

Frederic: Yes. So, previously people didn’t know how these atolls were formed but they’re ancient volcanic islands that had a coral reef structure around them and then what happens is that islands sink over millions of years in the ocean, they literally sink. So, because these islands are very ancient the only thing that’s left is the lagoon and the coral reef that surrounds it and in some parts of the coral reef it’s big enough to have human habitation so that’s called in Tahitian that’s called a ‘motu’. It’s like the word that you hear all the time in those islands. So the motu is the islet around the lagoon. So it’s not an island because the only thing there is, is some land but maybe 100 or 200 meters wide, so like 200 to 600 feet wide, not even a kilometer wide. And then there can be a road, you know, people live there but vegetation is quite limited, coconut trees grow like crazy but because there’s so much sea water around it’s very difficult to grow other things and people have lived on these atolls for thousands of years and they’ve figured it out how to live in this harsh environment.

Kevin: What do they eat?

Frederic: Well, previously, they ate a diet of fish, coconuts and breadfruit because breadfruit grows on the motus and nowadays, I mean, they get a boat once a week and the atoll where I went, there’s a flight maybe once a day so you can get more supplies. Some fruits grow but not really, you know, just it’s really coconut products, I mean if you don’t like coconuts, you can’t enjoy living there. So I’ve always been fascinated by these places because it’s like the dream of the tropical island paradise but it’s incredibly beautiful, you’re really remote and I had been there years ago and on an atoll called Rangiroa, which is the second largest atoll in the world after one in Micronesia. And it’s in French Polynesia so I ended up booking a trip. I planned this trip like almost a year ago and I went to the atoll of Fakarava, which is an hour away by plane from Tahiti. So you have to fly to Tahiti, the island of Tahiti and then you have to fly to Fakarava and then I decided well, might as well even go more remote – the guest house that I chose, they call pension there, so it’s like a B&B more or less. They’re on like a remote part of the remote already remote island and so it’s an hour and a half by boat from the airport and then once you’re there, I mean it’s incredibly beautiful and you feel like you’re literally at the end of the world. And I booked this place because I wanted to have that time, you know, for myself and just being away from everything and it’s – I mean the colors of the ocean, in the lagoon and it’s just every shade of, grade of blue and turquoise. I mean it’s incredible. But I had no internet. That’s what we’re going to talk about. No internet and no electricity in the bungalows. On the property itself, you could plug in your iPhone and, you know, they get lights from a generator but in the bungalows, it was just traditional oil lamps and I loved it! I mean you really like – it’s like camping but it was really nicely done where I stayed. And I was on the ocean side but if you want to walk to the lagoon side, it’s only like, I don’t know, a four-minute walk, not even, literally there’s not that much land. So you go from the ocean to the lagoon and when you stay on the ocean side it’s just the incredible sound of the ocean constantly and the breeze from the ocean. It was so beautiful. You can see the entire Milky Way galaxy before the moon rises, you know, all the stars and the sort of Milky Way fog. It was incredible and beautiful and totally disconnecting, like I said, so I had a true digital detox there and I don’t think I could have done it better because I mean, literally like there was no option for me like I could not connect even if I wanted to. I could have – there was a phone line, I could have called but I could not get internet and it was great. I loved it. I mean it was – I didn’t, you know there were a few times where I was like, I felt “I want to know what’s going on,” you know, but, because you’re so used to whenever you had a thought, a question like I’m going to look it up or I’m going to go online and read more about this topic but I could not look it up. I could just be and enjoy my time there and it was great.

Kevin: Sounds amazing. I mean, I think the reality is that not everyone is going to go to Tahiti.

Frederic: No! I mean, I…

Kevin: So, I mean like, so how does someone recreate – well, first off why is it important to do some sort of digital detox? And then the second thing is, how does someone recreate that in the city, USA or you know province Canada?

Frederic: Yeah. I tend to do things a little bit extreme but first of all I did not go there in order to do a digital detox. That was not the main purpose. I went there because I always wanted to go there. It was one of my dreams, so you know, it was for the place. It turned out I could have stayed somewhere else with internet access but I thought why not stay somewhere with no internet and just enjoy, you know, this particular location, which was great. So I think the main benefit that I got out of it is it put me kind of in touch with my intuition and myself so I was able to kind of come to really important conclusion about certain aspects of my life that I’ve been questioning for a while. And just, I don’t think you can do this when you have too much information input when you just have, you know, you can call friends and you can go online. When you’re just with yourself, it’s very, it’s seems like the truth comes to the surface. It was also very good for sleeping, relaxation just being disconnected. I will say something. I don’t think that you need to be without technology in order to get those benefits because I had my computer, I had my iPhone to take pictures but I just could not connect. So I think the benefits came from not being able to connect to the internet. Yes, all the benefits that I experienced were from this no internet state. And I think we overly use the internet and smart phones and you can do it for a week, which is difficult or you can do it in small doses, you know you can go like – when you go out to eat, do you really have to bring your smart phone. I mean, what’s the worst thing that could happen is you don’t have your phone with you once in a while or there are things like that, that people can do on a regular basis or maybe once a week you have a no internet day or maybe on Saturday or you choose your own Sabbath day and why not also avoid just connecting online. Yeah.

Kevin: I know somebody who I think Saturday or the weekends they carry around a flip phone, you know one of those old flip phones so you can’t access the internet. It’s only if someone needs to be…

Frederic: Yeah. That makes sense, so you have two phones.

Kevin: Yeah.

Frederic: One smart phone and one regular phone.

Kevin: Yeah. Or at least that’s what they’re just saying. Maybe they’re like Walter White or something.

Frederic: Yeah.

Kevin: Yeah, teacher by day, meth dealer by night.

Frederic: I mean I had a – there was a cell phone reception there which surprised me. I did not expect my iPhone to catch cell phone reception. So it was – I felt good that in case of an emergency, I could call. But at three dollars a minute, I didn’t call anybody.

Kevin: Yeah.

Frederic: And 75 cents to send a text, you know I didn’t send any text while I was there. So I just think that it’s so easy to use the internet that there are a lot of things we do online, you know, you can watch Netflix and your brain gets used to that kind of level of stimulation and if you don’t purposely unplug once in a while, it will rule you and you won’t be able to relax and you won’t be able to be in touch with yourself and you will always be in kind of a stress state of mind. So just not being able to finish the latest season of House of Cards was great.

Kevin: Oh you missed out?

Frederic: They released House of Cards like, I don’t know, two days before I left and so I watched, like one or two episodes in Honolulu and then – I mean the internet is so slow there that I could not finish any other episode. So it was great! I mean it’s just like “Oh, well I’m just going to wait until I get back” and then you know, I might take a month or two to finish it versus previously maybe just binge watching the whole thing. I know once you retrain your brain a little bit it’s just – you become less obsess with technology but you got to do it on a regular basis.

Kevin: Well, let’s talk about the health benefits here. I mean it’s definitely going to de-stimulate you, so you’re definitely going to – your endocrine system is going to take a break. You’re not going to get dopamine heads every time or serotonin kind of spikes every time you’re looking at someone’s Facebook post or something like that. So that’s a definite, so you’re definitely just cooling your endocrine system. I think anyone on the planet who’s connected to the internet could benefit from cooling down a little bit, can benefit from that. The intuition thing is interesting. I don’t know if that’s like an emotional thing or if that’s actually manifested through you know, the physical kind of calming of the endocrine system because me, my belief is that we are always connected to our intuition, it’s just a matter of can we find it through the mess or not.

Frederic: Yeah.

Kevin: And so to me that’s probably what’s happening is that, you know, as you – before you can get a hint of intuition, you know, you’re suddenly on TMZ or you know, you’re watching House of Cards or you’re like kind of delaying the bubbling up of that intuition coming through and being able to actually listen to that intuition. So whether it’s emotional or physical, it doesn’t really matter it’s there guys, you have it and if you do take a break you can, you know, you can access it even better. I always find that anytime away from electronics, I do have better insights. I mean in, even in the shower right? I mean the shower – some people say great ideas come in the shower. Well, that’s just the time where you’re away from electronics. You’ve probably connected to nature because you are connected to the water. Or running for me or walking, taking a long hike, you know away from again technologies is kind of when things happen. And then on the other side of it you know, the electronics, you know one thing about the electronics is the blue light coming from these electronics. And you know blue light has been shown in studies to interrupt with sleep patterns. There’s a software that we’re going to tell you about in just a second. And I’m on their website right now and essentially there’s a quote, “experimental research suggests an average person reading on a tablet for a couple of hours before bed they find that their sleep is delayed by about an hour.” So if you read for a couple of hours, your sleep maybe delayed for an hour. And that’s just going to interfere with all your systems. I mean obviously it’s going to interfere with your sleep but it’s going to start to interfere with all things connected with that. So let’s get into some of these recommendations, we do have some recommendations for you guys because we know that most of you aren’t going to go to Tahiti, but you might be able to, or you might be able to just go to you know in a cornfield somewhere in the middle of Kansas you know and just you know, rent a farmhouse or something and not be around this sort of stuff. But definitely, for the blue light, Frederic and I both use a program called ‘F.lux’. And the website is What this does is, as the day goes through and as the sun either rises or sets the program changes the colors of your screen so that it’s easier for your eyes to see the screen. It’s actually really amazing because you know, I find myself, you know, working at night I won’t realize that it slipped in to f.lux, so it slipped into new colors because it takes away the blue light and the colors get a bit strange. And then for some reason maybe I need to actually see color and I’ll go and I’ll switch it back to the blue light and it’s jarring. It’s so ridiculously different that it’s surprising you know, that I might have been – to think that I might have been looking at those bright colors the whole time. So f.lux is definitely one program that I would definitely recommend, We don’t make any money on the recommendation of this one.

Frederic: Good. And just one thing Kevin on the sleep issue is it was really interesting once I got to the island, after just two days my sleep pattern became like, what, maybe the sleep pattern is prehistoric times. So I started feeling tired at 8:30, I was definitely in bed by 9 and I woke up at like 5:30 or something so definitely a completely different sleep pattern than I have at home. So up early, go to bed early and that was kind of what was happening there and I didn’t bring my iPad I wanted to tell you about this. I didn’t bring my iPad so I had my laptop but you know when you’re not connected I mean, I had no media on my laptop. I was using it to write a little bit but not before going to bed. I had a Kindle but one of these really old Kindles, you know with no backlight. And that’s it, you know I had my iPhone to take pictures and that’s all I used it for. So I didn’t play games and stuff like that. I’m pretty sure if I brought my iPad it would have been full of stuff, you know, it would have kept me up a little bit at night and the other thing I want to mention is the value of boredom. We tend to avoid boredom in our culture because you can always do something to entertain yourself. I think we’ve been the most entertained in culture in the entire history of the world but it kind of raises our expectations so much that it’s difficult to have an experience where you’re truly, pleasantly surprised because you always expect, you know, the next movie that you watch to be as exciting as the last one which has been more exciting than any other movie ever done and so on and so forth and when you find yourself in a situation, maybe you go camping where there’s just nothing to do. I mean there’s literally nothing to do. It can actually be really enjoyable, like I really enjoyed the boredom part of it. Like a typical day there I would wake up like super early. We had breakfast at I think 7 and then I would do an activity until like 1 or 2 pm and it’s something involving the lagoon like going snorkeling and just going on a boat to different parts and I’d just take a nap when I came back because of all the sunshine and the air and stuff. And then the rest of the day I had nothing to do so I read, I spent a lot of time like just doing nothing, just kind of sitting and being and watching the stars and listening to the you know, sound of the waves and walking a little bit and checking out what’s going on and looking at the lagoon and say ‘Oh a fish is coming’ and like this is happening and I mean that’s boredom but it’s powerful. I think it was Steve Jobs who wrote something about boredom that when you let it happen like you get great ideas. If you’re always busy, you’re never bored but you also don’t have great insights because your mind is always you know, onto the next thing. So that was kind of one big insight that I got there that it’s good to be bored sometimes.

Kevin: It sounds like Zen practice to me, not boredom.

Frederic: Yeah. I mean we would call it boredom. You know they would call it meditation.

Kevin: So what are these other two software’s that we got…

Frederic: I think I have one for you and I think you have one more.

Kevin: Yes.

Frederic: I have the program freedom so if you type – let’s see freedom program, so this seems to be a Mac software, so That’s a website if you have a Mac. And this program is really good because writers use it to block the internet out. So what it does is you say let’s say from 1pm to 5pm no internet. And then you can’t change your mind. So that’s makes it very powerful like if after half an hour you’re like ‘Oh no I need to go on Facebook’ you can’t. It will disable your internet until the time you said you wanted to disable. So it is a great program for writers, anybody who needs that time just working on something with no distractions.

Kevin: Yeah. It sounds great I mean and it keeps you to your word, you know, which I like because if you finish something you’re like oh let me go on Facebook or something like that. The program that I like is called self-control. This is for Mac but there’s also, you know, there’s a PC equivalent. I actually don’t know the name of it but self control is somewhat similar but it’s browser based and you can block any pages you don’t want to go to for a certain period of time. So say for instance, you’re trying to finish writing your book and you need three hours of focus and you’re are trying to stay away from TMZ or CNN or FOX News or whatever you know page, NPR, whatever page you go to kind of get distracted, you can just set it up and then it will not allow you even if you reset your computer, it will not allow you to go to those pages just until the time that you’ve decided it to be done. So a similar kind of concept but definitely a cool program is called self control and you can get it at

Frederic: Great. Well those are great resources and of course we want to hear from you. So what are your tips for doing a digital detox and have you ever done this? We want to know so put in your comments below at

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


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  1. Dana says:

    Since I’m not enamored with my “smartphone’, which I call my dumbphone, because it I can be such a pain in the ass, I don’t have any problem with leaving it alone except to make phone calls. I sometimes forget it (gasp!!!) when I go out for little while close to home on foot, but do want it with me out in the world most of the time because you never know when you will really need it. As a woman, it can be a godsend if something should happen to my car. There are no more “public’ phones around so it can be a matter of safety.

    I do sometimes ignore my Mac but not ‘sometimes’ enough… 😉

    I did download the ‘flux’ app. and am looking forward to seeing it work! I also bookmarked the other two, ‘freedom’ and ‘self-control’ gotta think how and when best to use them…thanks for the heads-up.

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