Your Life, Unplugged
As our summer draws to a close and we start to get back into routine, in the northern hemisphere at least, it is good to take the time to reflect and consider what kind of routine we want to return to. Did we have a good work-life balance before the summer? Did we take time to unwind and refresh ourselves over the summer or were we busy and stressed? How do we want to schedule our calendar and organise our time going forward? Part of this is thinking about how we are going to use our devices. There is no one-size-fits-all approach and we each have to decide for ourselves what is appropriate for us at this time, but it is good to make a decision and not allow life to just happen to us. So in today’s blog post, therapist Teyhou Smyth looks at ways it can be beneficial to unplug from our devices. Take from it what resonates with you, and stick to it. It is so important for your self care and for your relationships with others.
Why should you unplug?
If you are perpetually tied to your phone or laptop, checking text messages, email, responding to voicemails or otherwise tethered to the demands of technology, you may have noticed that you have become so used to the interruptions that it has become second nature.
Even when we are used to the constant ping of our devices, the never-ending disruption takes a toll on our subconscious minds. People who are too connected to their devices often end up with sleep problems, eyestrain, increased loneliness, and greater levels of anxiety.
Every now and then, it is a good idea to disconnect from electronics and reset the mind. This may sound like an impossible task, but with intention and practice, it becomes easier to do and you will begin to see an array of benefits. Shutting down your electronics for a while can also help you become more mindful, aware of the moment and offer your mind some undisrupted time to just ‘be.’
How to Get Started
If the thought of disconnecting from your phone and other devices seems daunting, there are strategies you can use to make the most of the time you disconnect.
Keep in mind that for the best results, disconnection time should be scheduled routinely and entered into your calendar as a commitment. Make your unplugged time sacred and try to leave that slot of time tech free, whether you do it once per week, once per day or as infrequently as once per month.
At first you may need to designate start and stop times for your tech break, especially if you are trying to get out of the habit of checking messages frequently. You can begin with short amounts of time, such as a few hours, as you get used to being temporarily tech-free. Try to expand your time each session so that you gain the best results.
If you are practicing the separation from tech while at home, try shutting off your devices and placing them in another room, out of sight. The absence of the electronics and their continual sounds will help you disengage from the distraction.
If you notice yourself becoming preoccupied with thoughts of your unchecked texts or other messages, gently remind yourself that you are enjoying some unplugged hours and will check messages later.
What to Do with Your Unplugged Time
Your time away from electronics can be used in a variety of ways. Often the best use of the time is to participate in activities that are therapeutic. It may be that your unplugged time is best spent doing a variety of tasks, such as hanging out with a friend (in person), going for a bike ride, or engaging in a hands-on project.
Spending time in nature is a wonderful, unplugged activity and enables you to pay better attention to the sights, sounds and smells of the world around you. Doing these activities unplugged will help you be fully present without the urge to follow up with a social media post.
While there is nothing wrong with sharing on social media (after all, connection is one of the most fundamental parts of being human), being able to disconnect from our devices helps us focus on what the moment holds rather than documenting our experience for the benefit of others.
As you practice being unplugged, you may find that you look forward to those dedicated periods of time and naturally begin to increase the number of hours because it feels rewarding to do so.
Good luck on your unplugged adventures, and don’t forget to not tweet about it.
[This blog post originally appeared on Teyhou’s website www.livingwithfinesse.com ~ some content may have been modified for the UK & Irish context.]