A GUIDE TO HELP YOU UNPLUG AND UNWIND.
Do you have a deep desire to get away from it all, even for just a day? Yet you can’t because you have a fear of missing out, you’re tied to your work, and have a million obligations.
You don’t have to completely remove yourself from life so you can recharge. Learn easy ways to unplug and disconnect, even if you are not alone.
BEFORE YOU UNPLUG FROM LIFE, LET’S LOOK AT THE PROBLEM
Technology has made life for us so much easier. We have unlimited access to information on the internet, news channels to keep us updated 24 hours a day, and social media to keep us connected no matter where we are. Unfortunately, we have become addicted to this type of technology.
The reason why we are addicted is that humans are innately social creatures and we naturally want to connect with other human beings.
This is how we were able to survive for thousands of years. One piece of technology that has facilitated our desire to be connected to each other is our mobile devices.
We Americans spend an average of 4 hours a day on our mobile devices. Time spent on our phones is not inherently bad. It becomes a problem when it interferes with our wellbeing.
THE FEAR OF MISSING OUT
One of the reasons why we’ve become addicted to our mobile devices is the “fear of missing out”, or FOMO. Adding to that problem is nomophobia, which is the fear of not having one’s phone.
In their study of undergraduate students, researchers found that both FOMO and nomophobia:
“overlap in their effect on social media users’ mental health.” Both are linked with addictive behaviors and “extensive smartphone and social media use are directly connected to lower self-esteem and greater emotional instability.”
I admit that I’ve experienced both fears, and as ridiculous as it sounds, they are very real. So real, that I’ve literally taken my phone everywhere with me so I won’t miss an important call or a new post on social media.
Let me illustrate this for you. I joined TikTok, a relative newcomer to social media, because I didn’t want to miss out on the latest new thing. I was so engrossed and entertained by the videos that I lost track of time swiping through them. What I thought was only 10 minutes on the app was actually an hour.
NOT DISCONNECTING FROM WORK
“Work is important, but you also need to disconnect, to unplug at times, in order to be even more concentrated when you do work.” -Massimiliano Allegri
Another problem, especially in America, is being constantly connected to work, even on the weekends, while on vacation, or while out sick.
According to the American Psychological Association, more than half of employed adults check work messages during the weekends, before and after work, and when they are home sick. More than 40% said they did the same while on vacation.
One antidote to FOMO is JOMO, or the “joy of missing out.”
THE JOY OF MISSING OUT
Kristen Fuller, M.D., a writer for Psychology Today, found that JOMO is “the emotionally intelligent antidote to FOMO and is essentially about being present and being content with where you are at in life.”
Although the author focused on social media users, JOMO can be an antidote to other addictive behaviors that arise from FOMO.
JOMO allows you to break away from social activity, especially social media, so you can enjoy your personal time.
You unplug yourself from the negative behaviors associated with social media, like constantly comparing yourself to others, needing validation, checking in, feeling inferior, and needing to look perfect.
JOMO allows you to focus on what matters most, like:
- Being more self-aware
- Having engaging interactions with your loved ones.
- Making space for creativity, like a hobby or an activity that you take great pleasure in.
- Feeling more joy, happiness, contentment, and peace.
- Living fully in the present moment.
- Letting yourself live each moment more deeply.
JOMO is just one of many strategies to help you unplug. We will go into more detail about the different ways to unplug a bit later. Right now, let’s look at what it means to unplug.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO UNPLUG?
According to to the Miriam Webster Dictionary, to unplug is to remove a blockage or to physically disconnect from something.
I like the first definition of unplugging by removing a blockage. You can physically remove yourself from something to unplug. However, if you’re still distracted or anxious, you’re really just stuffing the junk back down instead of removing it.
Sometimes, when me and my family are on vacation, I can't unplug right away. My body would physically be there, but my mind would still be back home. By the time the vacation the was over, my mind would just begin to unwind, and I would be sad that it was over too soon.
If you want to get away from everything because you're almost to the point of burning out, be sure you get to the root of the problem. Physically relocating so you can have some peace helps, but if you want to fully enjoy yourself, you want to make sure that you remove negative blockages from within, so you can truly experience the benefits of unplugging.
THE BENEFITS OF UNPLUGGING
“Unplugging helps you refocus on yourself instead of being pulled in a zillion different directions. Those directions may all be important, but you are just as important. Unplugging allows you to focus on being in the moment, here and now. It helps you step away from the emotional roller coaster that you ride reacting to a friend’s story, a news article, or outrage over worldwide events. Unplugging gives you the chance to remember who you are at your core.”
When you unplug, you are:
- Getting clear on what truly matters most.
- Removing yourself from distraction.
- Putting up boundaries.
- Are able to focus on what is in front of you.
- Able to have peace.
- More balanced.
- Wasting less time.
- Enjoying the present moment.
- Able to engage more meaningfully with others.
- Curtailing FOMO.
- Making more room for creativity.
- Possibly gaining some insightful solutions for issues you have.
- Giving your mind and body much needed rest.
- Able to sleep better.
- Reenergizing your mind and body.
The great thing about unplugging is it allows you to recover from all the craziness that goes on every day. Unplugging helps to free you from society's expectations, distractions, and noise, so you can finally release and heal.
HOW TO UNPLUG AND DISCONNECT IN 10 SIMPLE WAYS
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” -Anne Lamott
It would be nice to completely disconnect for as long as we need to without worrying about how to pay the bills. Most people don’t have this luxury, though.
The majority of my unplugging tips are realistic, practical, and can be done in the comfort of your home. They can even be done together with the ones you love and you will still reap the benefits.
DO A DIGITAL DETOX
One great way to unplug is to do a digital detox. Digital detoxing is cutting out digital devices from your life for a certain amount of time.
My digital detox is refraining from looking at email and social media at least once a week for 24 hours. After my detox, I always feel more energetic, lighter, calmer, and more engaged with my loved ones.
Get creative with your digital detox. You can unplug from all of your devices cold turkey for however long you need. Or you can experiment with how long and with which digital devices you would benefit detoxing from.
KEEP YOUR MOBILE DEVICE WHERE YOU CAN’T REACH IT
Keeping your phone out of reach is a very simple but effective way to unplug. When I’m not out and about, I like to keep my phone far enough where I can’t reach it easily.
This helps cut down on distractions so I can enjoy what I’m doing at the moment, like eating, reading, or interacting with my family.
I also put my phone down far away from where I work and sleep so I’m not tempted to use it. You can wean yourself from your phone in small chunks each day.
Think of an activity that you do in tandem with using your phone. For me, it was eating. Every time I ate, I placed my phone down far from arm’s reach. My meals became pleasurable experiences instead of something that got in the way of my phone usage.
GO FOR A WALK FOR AT LEAST 10 MINUTES
Walking is a great way to help you unplug, especially if you are feeling anxious or if you’ve been working on something for a long stretch of time. Take a slow walk outdoors for at least 10 minutes. If you absolutely can’t go outside for 10 minutes, shorten the length of the walk, do it indoors, or both.
Walking slowly outdoors, or even from your bedroom to the kitchen, gives your mind a break and helps you bring your attention to the present moment. This technique can help you to recharge, refocus, and relax.
LEAVE YOUR WORK AT WORK
Some people like to check their work emails, even after hours. While others will stay tethered by answering work related calls.
Some might even think that bringing work home after closing hours is more productive and efficient. This is not only false, but it adds to your workload and makes it difficult to disconnect from your work.
When your work hours are over, you can resist the temptation to work more by answering only urgent calls or emails.
If you’re working from home, pick a time of day to start and end work and stick to it. It will take some practice, but leaving your work at work is restorative both physically and mentally.
TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS
Taking more breaks, especially if you’re working on a big project, will help you reset your mind and body. When you allow yourself to rest more often, you are preventing yourself from burning out.
Your brain can only retain so much information. Taking more breaks can help you:
- Reduce fatigue.
- Increase your motivation.
- Stay focused on your task.
- Process information better.
- Feel more balance and harmony in your personal life.
TRACK THE TIME YOU SPEND ONLINE
Tracking when you are online will give you an accurate picture of how much time you really spend on the internet. When you know how and when you spend your time online, you will create more time in your day for unplugging.
You can start tracking your internet time the moment you get up in the morning. Do this every day for at least a week and include the days you work and the days you are off.
- Write the times you catch yourself going online, including on your phone and anything that can connect you to the web.
- When you notice yourself going online, write down the time you finished and started.
- Make a note of what you were doing before you went online.
After a week, go back and look at your data. Add up the minutes you spent online. Once you know exactly how much time you spend on the internet each day, you can use those wasted minutes to take a break or save them for an activity you enjoy.
CHECK YOUR EMAIL ONCE OR TWICE A DAY
Email can suck you into a time warp. I know I’m guilty of checking it at all hours of the day.
Now, I limit checking my email to twice a day on the weekdays and just once on the weekends. During the weekdays, I check it first thing in the morning and then in the afternoon after my kids’ school hours in case the teacher has an urgent message.
I also try to limit myself to 5 minutes each time and start with the ones that need my attention right away. This way, I’m not constantly checking it and I am giving myself more time to unplug.
MAKE SOME TIME TO MEDITATE
Meditation is a wonderful way to unplug each day. You don’t have to spend hours doing it either. You can spend just 5 minutes each day.
Meditation restores your energy and focus because it brings your attention into the present moment.
Pick a time to meditate when you won’t be disturbed. Every time you get distracted during the meditation, gently refocus your attention on your breath or with eyes open on a fixed spot. The more you practice, the better you will get, and the more you will be able to reconnect to your peace and center.
SET UP A DIGITAL FREE ZONE
I have those moments with my kids and family where we try to unplug and just be in the moment. We put everything else to the side and just be there with our family. -Soleil Moon Frye
A digital free zone gives you a space to unplug so you can reconnect with yourself and your loved ones.
I make a point to keep our dinners digital free. This gives my family time to actually interact with each other and have meaningful conversations.
Pick any space in your home and designate it as a digital free zone. This can be your bedroom, dining room, or even a cozy little corner of your house.
GO ON VACATION FOR A WEEK
If you can swing it, go on a vacation for a week so you can unplug from society and get back to the things that are important to you. A great place to get away is anywhere that is surrounded by nature.
You have the opportunity to reconnect with yourself and your surroundings when you are on vacation. If you have family or loved ones, you can strengthen your bond and relationship with them because your attention is not being pulled in all directions.
Unplugging for a given period of time is necessary in this day and age. It gives you a chance to disconnect from distraction and busyness so you can get back to the things that are most important to you. Unplugging allows you to restore balance in all facets of your life, bolsters your health and wellbeing, and helps strengthen your relationship with others.
Learning how to unplug can be as simple as taking frequent breaks every day from your work and digital devices. Just remember that it takes regular practice to be able to truly disconnect. Once you get the hang of it, you will be able to enjoy all the wonderful ways to unplug and unwind.
More tips to help you unplug:
How do you unplug? Please share your stories and ideas down in the comments below!