For those of you who actually remember a life before the internet, it’s safe to say that times have changed drastically since our youth. We no longer carry around change for pay phones; entertain ourselves for hours on road trips with just a cd player, stack of CDS and handful of AA batteries, and wrap-around headphones (remember those?!); memorize telephone numbers, or use libraries as our main source of gaining information.
While the technological advances of the last few decades have made our lives increasingly more convenient, having everything at our fingertips at all times comes with it’s drawbacks. Work hours have become more like guidelines – for employees and freelancers alike – and digital dames like myself have an added layer of stress, locking ourselves into a vicious cycle of having to constantly be present and reachable across a million different social media channels. We still only get 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, but somehow the workload has increased twofold and is expected to be delivered within half the amount of time.
And it’s not just bosses who expect us to be reachable at all times. Family members and friends assume that if they are texting you, you must also be just as available as they are in that very moment. Seriously, guys, what is with this unspoken and accepted universal (un)truth that when you send a text to someone, that someone is supposed to enter some kind of 3rd dimension where time and daily obligations no longer exist and their sole purpose in life becomes answering your text message? Just because you have a hot second to blast off a text message does not mean that the recipient automatically gets granted five extra carefree minutes by the texting fairy to text you back!
This non-verbal, electronic communication has another quite ironic consequence – when you do finally meet up with that friend or family member that has been texting you non-stop, instead of putting away all devices and having a quality face-to-face hang, both parties are usually STILL attached to their iphones, checking their emails, answering other text messages, and getting distracted by all kinds of notifications. I mean seriously, is it really THAT important that all your Candy Crush lives have been restored?
Now, I for one try to make a concerted effort to put my phone on silent and tuck it away in my coat pocket when hanging out with friends or going out to dinner, but the minute my meal is over, and I pull out my phone only to be confronted with 15+ notifications from instagram, 3 notifications from twitter, 5 missed calls, 4 new whatsapp messages, and 10 new emails, leaving me to feel both guilty for not being more accessible to everyone and their mom at all times and resentful and stressed out that I’m getting pulled into a million different directions.
Which is why it’s really important to simply unplug from time to time and go off the grid. So every now and then, I urge you to block off a chunk of time – 2 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours or a full week; the duration is up to you and dependent on how urgent your obligations are – and unplug. Take this time to focus on you and only you, and re-charge your mind and soul so that you are ready to tack on future challenges with excitement and energy.
With these 5 easy steps, you will be on the road to relaxationville in no time, ready to face the world once you come out of your self-imposed hibernation:
Simply turning off your phone and going awol is probably not the smartest move. It’s likely to get you fired and leave a lot of friends really pissed off. So make the necessary preparations. Get your work taken care of ahead of time and let your friends know that this weekend you will be incommunicado. Needing a longer break? Then use your vacation days and plan for a 4-day weekend. If you have any social media obligations, schedule things beforehand. By preparing ahead of time, you can ensure that you will actually be able to enjoy the next 48 hours (give or take) with a clear conscience. If you plan on spending some of your time watching movies, make sure to pre-download whatever it is you want to watch because…
2: Unplug & get cozy
Now it’s time to turn off your phone, or at least put it on silent, tuck it away in another room, and shut off your internet connection. We said we were going off the grid, so let’s really go off the grid.
Not asking you to unplug your landline, as real emergencies do happen, but let your friends and family know that you will not be taking any calls unless it is a REAL emergency. Now surround yourself with a warm pot of tea, your favorite books and magazines, light some candles, crawl under the covers, and get relaxing.
3: Indulge in offline activities
The best part about going off the grid is that it allows you to spend time doing things you love that you never seem to be able to make time for. I don’t know about you, but reading is one of those things that I loved doing as a child but never find time for as an adult – with the exceptions of when I am travelling or taking an off-the-grid weekend.
Now is also a great time to watch your favorite film, get your inner DaVinci on and start painting, get around to doing that DIY you always wanted to try… the possibilities are limitless!
4: Pamper yourself
Use some of this time to mentally and physically unwind as well. Start yourself a warm bath, throw in a bath bomb and sprinkle some bubble bath under the tap, light some candles and watch your favorite show. (If you are disciplined enough, go ahead, and turn the internet on for netflix, but avoid opening up any other programs or surfing the web).
5: Do some self-guided yoga and/or meditation!
Roll out that yoga mat and end the day with some sun salutations and meditation to center yourself. Connect with yourself and show gratitude for all that is good in your life.
photography: Rae Tashman and Sandro Mosco
Do you unplug from time to time? What are your tips & tricks for doing so?