Want to reduce your stress? Get unplugged. Want to reduce your anxiety or depression? Get unplugged. Want better relationships? Get unplugged. Seriously.
The modern lifestyle of hustling and stimulation from the time we wake up until we go to sleep feels normal. It’s what we do. Our brains are always going. Our nervous system is always on high alert. It’s just how we live. And it’s an unhealthy way to live. It’s not what the human body is designed to do. It creates stress and stress creates disease and emotional distress.
Here are some suggestions on how you can get unplugged.
Unplug Throughout the Day
Shut down the email alert. Unless it’s absolutely imperative to know the exact second that an email or social media post is sent to you (such as for a business deal or family illness), go to your email box to check it. Don’t bring it to you. This will drastically reduce time that you waste online and give you far more peace in your day.
When you clock out of work for the day, clock out of work email and texts too. Everyone needs down time. If you make yourself accessible to everyone around the clock, they will come to you around the clock.
Carry a dumb phone. I know it sounds like heresy. If your phone is limited to calls and texts, you will waste less time on it. You didn’t need all those features before they became available. You really don’t need them now.
Respond to texts, phone calls, and emails when it’s convenient for you. We live in an immediate gratification society. This doesn’t mean we have to participate in it. Don’t let texts, phone calls, and emails interrupt dinner, dates, work, family time, sports, social time, training, study time, movie night, or life. It can almost always wait.
Don’t carry your phone on your body. It’s actually dangerous anyway. If you carry it in a purse, you’re more likely to miss a call that you didn’t really need to get right this minute anyway. It keeps technology at arm’s length- which is a healthy place for it to be. This is another example of you going to it rather than it coming to you.
Take a walk during the day. Maybe it’s only fifteen minutes, but that’s okay. Taking a break to do something mildly physical will give your brain a boost so that you can actually be more productive when you get back to what you’re doing. Sitting is a killer. The body isn’t designed to sit all day.
Get outside in the sunshine, rain, wind or snow. Just get outside. Nature heals. Indoor air is low in healthy negative ions. City air doesn’t have enough to promote wellness either, but it’s better than indoor air. If you can get in the grass, beneath the trees, it will do wonders for your well-being. You need more outside time than just the walk between your car and a building.
Meditate for a few minutes each day. Some people haven’t taken to meditating yet because they haven’t found a method that they like. It takes some practice to get into a flow. Still, if you try sitting quietly for a while and find you don’t like it, there are other ways to meditate. Qigong is at type of moving meditation. Focusing on breathing can give your mind something to do if emptying your mind is too boring or hard. You can even find mindful walking or gardening meditative. If an activity is centering, calming, and a means to slow down and rebalance, it’s meditative.
Unplugged For One Hour a Day
Create a technology free hour. Turn off the tv. (If you an manage it, get rid of the tv altogether. It’s a huge time waster). No video games. No internet. No electronic stimulation. The best time is the hour before bedtime. Looking at a computer screen, tv, or e-reader can disrupt your sleep. Creating quiet space promotes healthy sleep. Another great time for being unplugged is the first hour of the day. If you wait to power up, your nervous system gets a fresh, clean start every morning.
Create a no talk zone. If you tend to be chatty or live with people who are chatty, it can be beneficial for all concerned to be without conversation for an hour. Talking can be a way to connect. It can also be a way to avoid connection. Having time for your brain to be quiet can give you time to focus on your inner environment. You can spend this time journaling, meditating, reading, breathing, knitting, listening to music, or engaging in other creative activities.
Dedicate a mealtime as face time. Talk to people. Listen. Share your thoughts. Life is about connection. Set aside some time each day to make that happen. Liking someone’s status isn’t connection. Sending texts isn’t connection. Face to face contact creates it. You can’t be present in a text. Besides food is love. Eating good food produces endorphins, those feel good hormones. When you eat good food with people you love, that fosters connection.
Do something creative. Most creative outlets require you to be focused, centered and away from technology. Make some music. Dance. Cook. Paint. You don’t have to do it every day. Maybe creative day is Monday while you do FaceTime Friday. Establishing a routine for unplugging an hour each day can create balance in your life while also giving you some variety.
Write something. It might seem like setting aside an hour to write is way too much time. What have you written lately? It takes a while to collect your thoughts and write something. Even if it’s a journal where you throw up all your frustrations. It takes a while. Not a writer? It doesn’t matter. The focus isn’t on what you are writing. It’s about taking time to think your thoughts, feel your feelings, and move them out of your head through your hands and on to a piece of paper. Typing isn’t the same process. Write. Not sure what to write? Get a pen pal. Seriously. I have two. People with pen pals tend to write well, thoughtfully, and meaningfully. This mindfulness spreads into the rest of your life.
Once in a while we need a longer break from technology. You can certainly make this happen at home, but it’s most often easier if you go away. It will get you out of your routine. If you can manage to go somewhere that technology isn’t available, like a cabin in the woods, and you have plans for how to spend this time, it will be a lot easier.
If you want to spend your time at home, planning ahead is crucial. Here are some tips to make it happen.
- Define for yourself what “unplugged” means. Stick to your own definition.
- Let others know of your plans so that they can act as accomplices and leave you alone!
- Create a list of enjoyable things to do so that you can enjoy your unplugged time. We repeat what is enjoyable. And it’s not meant to be a punishment or sacrifice.
- Be mindful. If your daily routine keeps you from seeing and appreciating life, use this time for that. Walk with presence. Breathe with presence. What you do doesn’t have to be spectacular. There is joy in the mundane if you have the eyes to see it.
When you first begin these strategies, it can be hard. You might feel like you’re missing something. You could feel anxious or bored. Maybe you feel insecure. These are signs of withdrawal! If you push past it and make being unplugged a lifestyle, you will realize that you actually feel better, sleep better, and have better relationships. It just takes a bit of time to adjust. So give it a try.
If you’re ready for a BIG unplugged event and want to feel the full effects of it, come with me on a sacred travel journey. It’s the ultimate unplugged journey.