Stress, anxiety, chronic fatigue, sleep deprivation and overwhelm are so deeply woven into our lives these days that we regularly seek ways to decompress. On the surface, this looks like a great remedy to balance the madness and the desire for peace in our lives. If we dig deeper, we’ll find that a slight shift in lifestyle will create the space our mind and body need without oscillating between burned out and chilled out.
Below are six simple ways to unplug.
- No checking the phone when out with friends, walking or commuting.
Make it a point to be fully present when around company. This means not getting distracted by your phone so you can focus on bonding and connecting with the people around you. When walking, use the occasion to appreciate the beauty around you instead of burying your nose in your phone. When commuting, use the journey for enjoying the scenery, reading a book or people-watching.
- Don’t use Google for information or showing photos.
Conversations suffer a premature death or become lackluster when we rely on Google or our smartphone photos to illustrate a point. Before smartphones became an integral part of our interactions, we used words to describe a situation, story, problem or image. These days, we often let Wikipedia, Facebook or Instagram to do the talking for us and then compensate for our lack of conversational skills by taking a communication class.
If you absolutely have to use your phone to search for details or to show a photo, do so only after attempting to paint it with your words.
- Turn on silent mode and turn off notifications.
A surefire way to avoid getting disrupted throughout the day is to keep phones on silent mode and turn off notifications. The odds of receiving notifications, text messages or calls that are a matter of life and death are incredibly low.
- Keep your phone out of sight.
How often do we have our phones within a foot of us? For many, the answer can be from the moment we wake up to the time we close our eyes at night. Personally, the best way to unplug more is to follow the rule of “out of sight, out of mind.” Initially, you’ll be seized by fear of missing out and face withdrawal symptoms. However, if you keep at it, it will gradually become a relief to use it only when you need to rather than having it run your life.
- Increase length of disconnect time.
Regardless of how frequently you check your phone, attempt to double the time interval you stay disconnected. Set an ultimate goal and work your way toward that. My goal is to check my phone once every three to four hours. I started off by checking once every 30 minutes instead of every 15 minutes. After several weeks of deliberate practice in staying disconnected, I’ve worked my way up to checking once every 90 to 120 minutes or even longer.
- Fix a time for social media and limit it.
Moderation is the key to sustainability. Fix a time interval to use your phone. Once the time is up, get back to real life.
Friends walking photo available from Shutterstock