Word-Of-the-Week #711: Unplug

March 22, 2018 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #711: Unplug 

Unplugthe state of being disconnected from electronic devices.

This topic just doesn’t seem to want to go away! Which leads to me to believe it’s a much bigger problem than we think? Did you know they actually have a National Day of Unplugging?

“Unplug for a day” by LA Times author Catherine Price offers good advice for those of you who are addicted to your digital devices.

“My husband and I did an experiment several years ago that sounds simple, but changed our lives. It began like this: As we sat down for dinner on a Friday night, I lighted a candle, we each took a deep breath – and we turned our phones off.

Not airplane mode. Not “Do not disturb”. All the way off. For the next 24 hours, we observed what’s often called a digital Sabbath: We completely disconnected from screens, including phones, tablets and computers.

It was eye-opening. At first, we had to resist a constant urge to reach for our phones. But by the next morning, we were surprised to notice our attitudes beginning to shift – and our twitchiness beginning to fade.

In just one day, we took a long walk, read and cooked a nice meal. I felt more grounded, as if I were getting back in touch with a part of myself I hadn’t realised was missing. When the time came to turn our phones back on, we did so somewhat reluctantly and felt much less compelled to check them.

When I told other people about our experience, they were intrigued yet scared – mobile connectivity has become integral to our lives, after all. The trick, I’ve realised, is to prepare.

The National Day of Unplugging (March 9 and 10) is an event organised by Reboot, a non-profit that creates new ways for people to observe traditions such as a Sabbath day. Here are my suggestions for how to make the experience easier and more rewarding.

  • Set your rules. Are you just taking a break from your phone? Or are you avoiding any Internet-enabled devices with screens, including tablets, smartwatches and laptops?
  • Warn people. Tell your parents, friends, boss or anyone else who is likely to try to contact you that you will be unplugged.
  • Get others on board. Ideally, everyone in your household should participate. Recruit a friend or post on social media what you’ll be doing and invite others to join you.
  • Make plans. Schedule enjoyable activities in advance. Make a coffee date with a friend. Put a book you have been meaning to read on your coffee table. Print out a recipe you want to try. Dust off a musical instrument. If your whole family is observing a digital Sabbath, pull out a board game or plan a hike.
  • Set up autoreplies. The fear of missing a text message keeps many of us tethered to our phones. The solution is a text message auto-responder, saying you’ll reply the next day. Do the same thing for your e-mail.
  • Use call forwarding. Go ahead and send your smartphone calls to your landline, if you have one. My philosophy is that I’m taking a break from screens, not from other human beings. So I put no restriction on landline calls — they represent live contact with people.
  • Get it in writing. Write down phone numbers of people you might want to call. Also, if you’ll be navigating someplace new, print or write out the directions. You can always ask for directions from a real person.
  • Keep a list. Note on paper the things you want to do, buy or look up when your 24-hour break is over. You may well find that by the time you turn your phone back on, you no longer care.

Still freaked out by the idea of phonelessness? While writing a book on how we can create healthier relationships with our phones, I asked 150 volunteers to try their own digital Sabbaths and then asked them afterward if they would recommend the experience. The consensus? Definitely.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” wrote one person. “I really expected that there would be a pull toward my phone, but there wasn’t,” wrote another. “It was freeing. I was liberated.”

So go ahead – go dark for a day. If you can’t take it for more than two hours or even two minutes, you can always turn your phone back on. But you might be surprised by how empowering it can be to power down.”

This week’s focus is to uplug. Have you ever turned your devices off? How long did it last? When was the last time you felt truly liberated? Here’s an idea you could spend your “unplugged” time doing random acts of kindness!

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Word Of the Week #550: Unplug

February 18, 2015 by · Comments Off on Word Of the Week #550: Unplug 

Unplugto disconnect; take time out.

How would you rate your level of stress? How attached are you to your electronic gadgets? When was the last time you were “unplugged” from everything?

This week’s WOW was inspired by Mary MacVean’s LA Times Sunday article, There’s no place like om. To the overstressed and overstimulated, mindful meditation is a welcome space to unplug and time out.”

She writes, “Meditation, primarily a 2,500-year-old form called mindfulness meditation that emphasizes paying attention to the present moment, has gone viral.

The unrelenting siege on our attention can take a good share of the credit; stress has bombarded people from executives on 24/7 schedules to kids who feel the pressure to succeed even before puberty. Meditation has been lauded as a way to reduce stress, ease physical ailments like headaches and increase compassion and productivity.

a unplugThe great thing about mindful meditation is that it fits a lot about the American spirit. You don’t have to join anything. It’s very private. It’s a very direct answer to an awful lot of stress and confusion. You needn’t even put down your phone, with apps like Insight Timer, which has guided meditations and ways to track your stillness.

Janice Marturano, once a top executive at General Mills, and the founder of the Institute for Mindful Leadership says, “As a mother, spouse, daughter of aging parents, president of an arts board, and a top executive – every day I juggled faster and faster, and on most days, most of the time, most of the balls stayed in the air.” You know where this is going: What goes up must come down.

“In the business world, we were just so bombarded with work all the time. The mobile devices – you’re expected to be on call at the movie theater, at your children’s recital, even in bed. I was just looking for a way to find peace,” says Jason Garner, once the CEO of Live Nation, and the author of “…And I Breathed.

And I love his tag line on the home page. It reads, “I choose to live my life as if it is a playground not a battlefield.” For those of you who have heard me speak I talk about “Time Out” for adults. You put a child in time out to calm them down as well as to discourage inappropriate behavior. What behavior is causing you stress?

This week focus is on how it would feel to unplug. How many balls are you trying to juggle? How much quiet time do you devote to yourself each day? How often do you put your phone/computer/gadgets out of reach?

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