January Unplugged: How To Unplug and Disconnect...To Connect
Remember when you used to memorize people’s numbers?
Remember when cellphones were just portable phones instead of small gadgets filled with distracting apps that can keep you scrolling for hours?
Remember when you took pictures just to remember the moment forever and not to share it with a bunch of strangers for "likes?"
Maybe you do, maybe you don’t...but I do. I used to be a human rolodex. My family also nicknamed me "paparazzi" because I loved to document our times together with photos for my own personal pleasure.
At the most basic level, technology is a helpful tool that helps us to accomplish many work related tasks. But too often in American Society that helpful tool blossoms into an unnecessary evil that we grow insanely dependent upon.
I have a serious love hate relationship with technology. I love it for all the wonderful things it can do, (how else can I talk keep in touch with our daughter and nieces who live in different states? or chat up my friend in London in real time via text messages and for free!?), and yet I seriously hate how dependent we have become.
...I realized last year that I had a problem unplugging. The majority of my work consists of sitting before my laptop and typing away…kind of like what I’m doing now, lol...
At one point time management became a serious issue for me because I just didn’t know how to turn the computer off.
Even in the quality time I was spending with Danny, if we were home, the computer would be a permanent fixture on my lap.
Many times I would wake up in the morning and the first thing I would do is grab my phone…not to look at the clock but to check my email to see if any of my clients had pressing issues that I needed to prioritize first.
Things were getting a little crazy.
It all came to a head in December, I was completely drained trying to keep up with everything – my work, social media, the Findlay House website, group chats...it all became a little too much.
I became stressed out. My good eating habits completely deteriorated. I limited social media and stepped away from group chats in an effort to feel better. But that still wasn’t enough.
Two days before Christmas I was still madly typing away at 6:30am as we were waiting to board our flight to Florida. That's when Danny stepped in and put his foot down and told me – no working while in Florida. He single handedly saved my Christmas break – all 4 days.
In January we went on a cabin getaway and disconnecting from our phones was one of the rules. We all failed to disconnect entirely for the entire trip but it was a good exercise and there were times we all were completely phone free.
Once we returned home I was anxious to get things going. I went on a detox diet to help reverse the damage of my poor eating habits in December and worked on spending quiet time with God and mapping out and accomplishing items on my weekly to do lists.
About mid-January I started freaking out – thinking I wasn’t being “active” enough with technology, especially on this blog. But then I realized that through my quiet time with God that this was another area I needed to disconnect from, only for a moment, so I could return to it revived and refreshed.
At the same time, Danny and I were experiencing major changes in our work schedules. We were seeing each other less than we had become accustomed to and quality time required us to be more intentional.
Making time for marriage, by making time for each other became the priority.
So I spent January unplugged from group chats and the Findlay House website. I still went on social media but not as much. I still had work to do for my different clients but I did a better job of putting my laptop and phone away completely.
After facing extreme fatigue and anxiety in December, quality time with my husband, eating better, and sleep became my priorities.
Living January unplugged took some getting used to but it was worth the amazing results. I felt well rested and I literally experienced the peace of God. Danny and I didn’t allow our schedule changes to affect our intimacy (“closeness”). Well that’s not true, for me, intimacy actually increased. I grew in my appreciation for Danny as I watched him put effort in to making me a priority even with such a demanding workload.
Sometimes in order to better connect with loved ones, with God, and with ourselves, we need to disconnect.
How To Unplug and Disconnect
Whether you need to disconnect from one area (social media, television, using your phone too much, etc.) or several; whether you need to disconnect one day a week, or need to disconnect completely for an entire month, here are several ways you can unplug and disconnect to better connect -
Put your phone down. You really don't need your phone as much as you think you do. Wear a watch instead of constantly checking your phone for the time. Put your phone away completely at dinner time and actually talk to the people around the table.
Replace electronic devices with a book. Put your phone down. Turn of the TV. Put away your iPad and Kindle that have all those extra apps. And pick up a good, old fashioned book and get lost in the world of literature instead of technology.
Use paper and pen. Surprise a loved one with a hand written note – go next level and post the letter in the mail. Or write down your grocery list or weekly to do list on a pad.
Take a break from social media. For some period of time log off completely from all social media. Replace that time with something more inspiring – prayer, going outside, reading, and/or building relationships face to face.
Go on a walk. Spend at least 10 minutes walking around your neighborhood, or community complex, and leave your phone at home.
Exercise. Alleviate boredom by getting your heart pumping and your blood flowing with physical activity. If you like to work out with music fine, but disconnect from everything else while you exercise.
Set a timer. The distraction of internet technology has a way of sucking you in – you log on to do one thing and before you know it you’ve spent 2 hours looking at 50 different things. If you must spend some time surfing the internet or logging in to social media set a timer. Once the timer goes off, don’t make any excuses – shut it down.
Turn off the television. If it’s the TV you can’t live without, challenge yourself to 24 hours without television, then up the challenge to a week. Replace all that mindless entertainment with something more soulful and stimulating - like good music, a good book, or good conversation instead.
Don’t keep your phone near the bed. If like me, you’re one of those people that struggles with grabbing your cell phone first thing in the morning, move your phone away from the bed. Let it charge on the opposite side of the room. If your phone doubles as an alarm clock even better, you’ll have to get up to turn it off instead of hitting SNOOZE.
If you’ve ever struggled with unplugging don’t worry you’re not alone. Technology is a wonderful tool but we’re not meant to live as robots that can’t function apart from technology - it’s time we take back control of our lives and unplug and disconnect to connect.
What’s your favorite way to unplug?
Wishing you a happy, healthy, and whole 2016!