Unplugged

3 Jan

Upon opening my personal email this morning, I realized I somehow went the entire weekend – since Thurs actually – without checking it. No wonder this weekend had been so lovely and restorative, even though I worked both Sat and Sun! It’s crazy to me what a difference simply unplugging for a bit (intentional or not) can make.

I was on Facebook a bit this weekend, but not often (due to the aforementioned work), and on Monday I had the day off work and finally got the opportunity to use a gift certificate given to me a year and half ago to go to Loyly, a local Swedish-style sauna and spa. When I left, it took me a full 30 minutes before checking my phone – which may not seem like much to most of you, but is basically a lifetime for me. Like, it’s a miracle that I didn’t once in those 30 minutes think about my phone.

I am one of those people who (unfortunately) wakes and immediately checks my phone. It sits on the desk in front of me during my work day, I am attached to it in-between clients at the salon (and also partially because of my salon booking needs), and then you’d think I’d put it aside once home, but I tend to use that time to check Facebook and browse Pinterest and do my crosswords before bed. So, my phone and me pretty much = inseparable, for both legitimate and not-so-legitimate reasons. I read a post somewhere recently by someone who was committing for the new year to putting their phone on Do Not Disturb after 6pm each day. What a lovely idea. I could never.

That being said, I would like to be less attached to it – to wean myself off a bit. Maybe two years ago I moved to having it on vibrate and silent almost all the time to save myself from incessant dinging. Last year, I turned off all notifications for Facebook, and changed my settings so that most other notifications were just the little number in the corner of the app as opposed to a pop-up. These seem to be such small changes, but they have made a difference just in that I have to think “hey, I want to check that” instead of having it thrust upon me every 10 minutes or so.

Still, the pull to check everything, all the time, is pretty irresistible. I’ve heard it compared to a lab rat who keeps pressing the button for the treat – even if the actual treat only comes intermittently. And that is how it feels sometimes, particularly with Facebook. The very nature of the beast is that you get the puppy videos and the cat gifs and your friend’s new baby, but you also get the depressing Donald Trump news and the terrorist attacks and police shootings. It is like reading the world’s weirdest newspaper – some odd mix of People magazine, The New York Times, and, like, a fancy cat calendar.

When I manage to stay away for a bit, indeed, I feel an odd mix of less informed but also less stressed, but also less – hmmm – amused, and possibly more bored. It’s a weird mix of positives and negatives in much the same way paying attention to Facebook is a weird mix of positives and negatives. So you can see how it’s easy to be compelled to just go ahead and stay engaged with it.

So, here are the three things I’ll be trying out to help replicate my restful and stress-free experience this weekend, more often:

  1. All yesterday, I hardly glanced at my phone until much later in the evening, and I didn’t feel like I missed much – in fact, the opposite was true, I felt like I gained something instead: mental and emotional space. It sounds kind of the opposite of what you’d think, but I’m trying to only look at Facebook during work. Haha. I have some time between clients for that, but not much time/ability during my day job – so you see the appeal. There’s guaranteed time to get it in pretty much daily, but, most days, not much time. On the other hand, I’m going to “let” myself look at Pinterest and Instagram “after hours”, since overall those are much more pleasant and consistent social media experiences that aren’t as mentally and emotionally exhausting. I want to be intentional about what brings me joy – and what doesn’t.
  2. I’m also going to try not to be on my phone when waiting. I’ve been doing this intermittently for a while now, but I want to refocus on it. Like when waiting for a friend at a bar or waiting for an appointment at the doctor – it will free up more mind-space to just look around, observe the world, people-watch. I think even picking up a magazine or newspaper is preferable to Facebook at this point – at least you know what you’re getting if you choose Real Simple or The Washington Post. When I was at the spa, I couldn’t have my phone on me (obviously) while in the sauna, etc. and the enforced stillness and thoughtfulness was restorative.
  3. I’m getting an alarm clock. Between notifications, messages, being up later than needed staring at it, and just, my cat knocking my phone off the bedside table when she’s being a real beez – it’d be great to just not even have it in the same room with me while I’m sleeping. You know, when my sister-in-law is close to giving birth, the next time Nana’s in the hospital – on those occasions I can easily bring it in with me, but otherwise I think somewhere near my purse will work just fine. It does make you start to think an actual home phone might be nice for unexpected emergencies…what is this?! 1990?! Anyway, I’m going to try it regardless (without the home phone, for now).

In what ways will you strive to be more unplugged this year?

 

 

 

 

 

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