Why You Need to UNPLUG!
We all know we are way to connected to our electronic devices, but yet we still find in hard to unplug. We tell ourselves that we have lots of good reasons not to unplug, but really we are just like addicts making excuses to get that next high. Like Pavlov’s dog, we unconsciously reach for the phone with that little ding of the bell. Even in mid-conversation, we will pick up the phone and glance down at it, expecting the other person to continue the conversation like we were paying 100% attention.
I might miss something. My family might need me. What if there is an emergency? I am waiting on a call, email, text etc. These are just some of the reasons that we feel like we have to be attached to our electronic devices. This is doubly true if you have a demanding job or a demanding boss.
How Staying Plugged in Effects Us
Have you ever noticed how quiet your house is when a storm comes through and knocks out the electricity? We are so used to all of that background buzzing that we don’t notice it until it isn’t there. Our addiction to our cell phones is really no different, you won’t realize the difference until it is not there.
Staying plugged in Creates Stress
We are now expected to respond immediately to emails and texts. Facebook, twitter and other social media feeds go so fast, if you don’t check them each day, you fear you might miss something important. This creates stress in our lives that doesn’t need to be there. Very few other people expect an immediate response, yet once we see a message or an email, we feel compelled to respond. This is why you need to unplug, if you don’t see it you won’t feel the pressure to respond, right now.
It Creates Dangerous Habits
Ever text and drive? Yea I have done it. Even though I have seen plenty of data, statistics, and research about the dangers of texting and driving, I still feel the urge to reply to someone’s text message. It is also illegal in many states, but we still do it. We think things like, “just real quick”, “just this once”, or my favorite “I am a good driver, it will be okay”. We all know those are lies, and the only way to break ourselves of this habit is to unplug. Turn the phone off and stick it in the console and then drive.
It Takes Away From Our Relationships
Your best friend is pouring her heart out about the break up she is going through and mid sentence your alert tone goes off. Out of habit you grab the phone and look at it. Why? Are you looking to see if what is on the phone is more important than your best friends feelings? Of course not, but that is the way it comes across, especially in a conversation like this one.
It also takes away from family time. I remember way back in the stone age where there were commercials encouraging families to turn off the TV and have a family game night. We were spending to much time staring at the tube, and not tuning into one another. Our phones, laptops, and Ipads are no different. I have seen memes that say stuff like “I am inviting people over to stare at their phones”.
Deciding to Unplug
I am not suggesting that you throw your phone in the river and become a hermit. I am simply saying pick an hour each day, or a few days a month and unplug. Turn off the computer, the phone, and the Ipad and enjoy the silence. Feel the weight lift from your chest when you see that screen go dark.
- Pick an hour in the evening, maybe dinner time, or the hour after dinner and turn it off. If you are part of a family, make it a family requirement. No phone from 7-8. Your teenagers won’t die, and everything else can wait for just 60 minutes while you hear about each others day.
- Use that great technology to send auto responses to anyone that tries to contact you. That way you won’t feel like someone is waiting for your response.
- Stick to it, especially if you are trying to make it a family requirement. Sorry kids, you can’t have your phone but I am waiting for this super important call or email so I get to keep mine on. That probably won’t go over very well. Unless you are waiting for news on a sick family member, keep it off.
Don’t Let Work Take Over Life
I used to have a boss that taught me a very valuable lesson, people will only treat you how you accept being treated. He would email and text every day of the week, Sunday, Holidays, didn’t matter, he was working so I should too. He also had a great rule about conference calls, we had to be on them even when on vacation, unless we were out of the country.
For a while, I let him treat me like this. I answered over 100 emails a day and was often working until 10 or 11 in the evening. Then something happened. I realized the more that I answered, the more he had to say. So I stopped. I refused to get on conference calls on my vacations, I did not respond to text and emails after 8 pm, and never on Sundays. Technology had given this man the ability to invade my life whenever he chose to. It was up to me to unplug and say “No, I will not let you do this”
Try it For A Month
I am giving you permission to unplug, to turn it all off for an hour and just relax. Read a book, talk to a friend, visit a loved one, meditate, anything that does not require the use of an electronic device. At first, you might be watching the clock, waiting for your unplugged hour to be up, but by the end of the month, you will be watching the clock waiting for your unplugged time to start.