Have you ever went a day without checking your email, logging on to Facebook, or responding immediately to text?
Most likely the answer is yes; you’ve either had this experience because it was forced and you were in a place without service or it was intentionally chosen. Whatever the case may be, I have a feeling you know how incredibly restorative it is to unplug. The presence, the aliveness, the engagement that comes from stepping away ― it’s a gift!
This is somethings we know and it’s an incredibly hard thing to do on a daily (or even weekly) basis. So often, we experience the magic of unplugging but then life happens and we get swept back up into the chaotic flow of being constantly plugged in. The phone is ringing, your email notifications are buzzing, you have a backlog of text to reply to, and you’re spending your lunch break scrolling your Instagram feed.
True, technology has blessed us with more abilities to connect with people, but we’re ALWAYS connected. To the point that it often feels like we’re a bunch of walking GPSes that can always be tracked down. While this may be good for your boss who always needs to talk to you and it might even be helpful if you’re a parent, it’s just not good as a whole. We’re just not wired for this type of connection.
Why? Because it’s really difficult to live day in and day out with this level of attachment without getting overstimulated or burnout. What we are wired for is a deep connection with ourselves, our loved ones, and our environment. We’re wired for meaningful relationships, experiences that bring us alive, and moments where we feel deeply present.
But most people (women especially) aren’t wired to be able to ignore, not respond, or have healthy boundaries with others’ demands. We often feel pressured to respond to every text, every email, and every Facebook comment. We want to belong, we don’t want to miss out, and we’re afraid of hurting other people’s feelings if we don’t respond right away.
This weekend I want to help you experience the art of unplugging so that you can have time to slow down, connect, listen, reflect, and recharge.
If you’re not feeling the need to unplug right now, ignore this email and go about your day. But if you’re longing for less stimulation and more quiet, I’m sharing nine things you can do this weekend. These are all things that have worked really well for me. I’m human and also have days where I’m completely overstimulated from technology. But with time, practice, and intention I’ve made huge improvements and so can you!
And if you’re not sure if you need to unplug, check in with your patience and your presence. Are one or both running thin right now? In my own life, these are two key indicators that I’ve been spending too much time plugged into technology and outside demands.
Now, if you’re ready to unplug this weekend, know this - I’m not suggesting you do all 9 things below or completely cut the cord on technology. What I am suggesting is that you start to find habits and develop a relationship that works for you. You can only create this by jumping in and giving it a try, so choose one thing on this list and start doing it as soon as you can. Then, add on from there.
9 things you can do this weekend to unplug.
- Go “notification free” for 24-hours. There’s a good chance you have your devices, email, and social media notifying you every time someone else wants to communicate with you. Try turning off all automatic notifications on all devices. After the 24-hours is complete, only add back in the ones that feel the most essential (it’s okay if that’s all or none).
- Run an errand or go for a walk without your phone. Yes, you might miss an Instagram photo op, but I promise there will be others. Notice what it’s like to actually pay attention when getting from point A to point B.
- Uninstall one social media app from your phone for 24-hours (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, dating apps). Uninstalling the apps doesn’t delete your account, and makes it much less tempting to check Instagram or Facebook every 3 minutes. You can easily re-install them in the future. Or, if uninstalling them seems a little too drastic, make the apps a little more challenging to access by moving them off the first screen on your smartphone.
- Have a device free breakfast. When you’re focused on sending email, perusing blog posts, or liking photos on Facebook you’re not focused on your food, which encourages mindless eating and overeating. For one breakfast this weekend, turn your phone off, step away from your computer, and enjoy your breakfast. Notice what it’s like to be present with the colors, textures, tastes, and smells of your meal.
- Put your phone in airplane mode. First, let your family and loved ones know you’re going to be taking some time away from your phone. This will lessen your worry and theirs if you decide to go airplane for awhile. Then, commit to a chunk of time. If it’s one hour or one day, see what it’s like to not have the buzz of the phone vibrating throughout your day.
- Write in your journal (bonus if you do it with your phone in airplane mode). There’s something about putting a pen to paper that calms the nervous system and brings clarity. Whether it's stream of consciousness writing or making a list of all the things you’re grateful for, the act of writing shifts emotional and physical energy. Sure, there’s probably an app you can use or a program for your computer, but it just doesn’t have the same calming effect.
- Leave your phone outside of your bedroom. You really don’t need it to sleep. Set a different alarm clock and charge your phone in the living room. The time pre and post-sleep are for winding down and waking up with intention. It’s a time for you to reflect, dream, express gratitude, and just simply be. Having your phone in your bedroom makes it too tempting to scroll or check “one quick thing” that often leads to ten and before you know it you’re lying in bed numbed out on your phone. I repeat, leave your phone outside of your bedroom.
- Put your devices away when interacting with others and be fully present with the people you’re with. Look at the person in front of you, listen deeply, and notice how the quality of your conversations improves.
- Spend time outdoors. It’s really hard for me to write a post that doesn’t encourage you to go outside. I really do believe it’s the fix for just about everything. ;) But seriously, just go outside sans devices. Let nature help you disconnect to reconnect. Listen to the sound of the birds, feel the sun on your face, notice the wind brush over your skin, feel the leaves crunch beneath your feet as you walk on them.
I really wanted this list to include a nice even ten, but alas I could only come up with nine. If you have a favorite way to unplug that isn’t listed above please share it with by emailing me at [email protected] I’m also going to be unplugging this weekend and love learning new tips!
May we all have the space to unplug this weekend so that we can experience more space for the people and experiences that matter most.
Warm hugs and big love,