After taking a brief break from the perils of technology and social media over the festive season, PMM has finally returned for 2016/17 with Part 2 of Unplugging In A Wired World.
You can read part one by clicking on this link: Unplugging In A Wired World: Part 1.
THE LONG BLISS
There were so many positive experiences about disconnecting from the outside world. The beauty of giving myself a few weeks was that after 3 days, I didn’t realise that I had pulled myself away from social media. I had surrounded myself with those I cared about and that’s simply all that mattered. This disconnection was the gift that kept on giving!
And the fact is, I maintained the same slow pace, the same sense of discovery that I enjoyed during those years of not having a phone, ipad, or laptop. There was more time to focus solely on my health and training, cooking, and personal time with friends and family. Above all, there was an expansion of sensations and ideas. A writing project that I had begun in New York that had me stumped for a year or so after suddenly appeared to have endless possibilities (stay tuned). The seeds of ideas planted earlier in 2013 started to bloom as I began looking at various options to make them a reality. Now 2017 has begun it also highlights what will hopefully be the end of my postgrad journey….for now. My Masters degree has been challenging to say the least, mainly due to working fulltime, so I’m happy to know that the end is near and that I can focus a little more on aforementioned ideas, hobbies an interests.
Not surprisingly, there is lots of advice online about how to move your existence offline. Some of it was actually useful. For some individuals, what at first may have feel like an obligation to respond to anything from an email to a social media comment out of courtesy has become an obsession. One could argue that, especially in this economy, it’s wise to be constantly wired to stay on top of anything from social media to emails, even personal banking.
But what about the downside?
What does this do to our physical, mental and emotional health?
We all need downtime, time to renew and refresh ourselves on a regular basis in order to be more productive over the long run. This was probably the biggest reason that I associated negative thoughts with “staying connected” and hence why I decided to let go over the christmas/new year period again, as I have years prior.
LIMITING YOUR EXPOSURE
We need to set limits in order to unplug from our wired world. We need to take time to ourselves – with no mobile phones, no tablets, and no laptops – to reenergise. Google and Nike, among others, provide space for employees to take naps or to meditate – a welcome respite from a busy, hectic workday. One organisation called Reboot has started the Sabbath Manifesto, a call to unplug one day a week to find solitude or to spend with family and friends. We all need a day of rest each week to recharge. Why even God, who created the heavens and earth, rested on the seventh day! On an annual basis, we all need a vacation – an unwired vacation with no email and voicemail in our absence. If we’re still connected with the outside world, that’s not a true vacation, both mentally and physically.
This would have to undoubtedly be the greatest gift I have given myself of recent times. Restored was my appreciation for disengagement, silence, and emptiness. Being able to read a book without the incessant fear that there would be something else I would need to be doing or checking incase I had missed “that opportunity”. I realised that I don’t need to fill every bit of time with something of great importance, and I don’t need to fill every mental opening with stimulus. Unoccupied moments are beautiful, so I have taken to scheduling them, especially with those who are dearest to me. Once every so often I try to have a complete week off training and focused eating with healthy guidelines. I see this as my reset button both mentally and physically.
Perhaps the most life-affirming change is that I rarely commute now while looking at or tapping on my devices finding podcasts, news and music. This can wait and so can my reading and writing, especially if it means I will be alive later to deal with it. If I don’t push out an article for the website or try to push forward with ideas within a certain time frame then so be it. I’d rather focus on quality rather than quantity. Especially at the expense of my sanity.
THE COLD HARD TRUTH
Despite these new habits, I feel myself pulled back toward full digital immersion.
I am still a creature of my technological time. I love my devices and services, and I love being connected to friends and family at the touch of a button as I don’t live in the same city. As most of my close friends live either interstate or overseas, it’s the simplest way of staying up to date with them in real time.
I am neither a complete tech head or technological inept, but I am more aware of the price I can pay if I fall victim to such an age: lack of depth in personal relationships, reduced accuracy, lower quality of life, impatience, selfishness, and mental exhaustion, to name but a few (sounds familiar right).
In choosing to digitally enhance, stay connected, and constantly share our lives, we risk not living them. Recently, taking to my coach during a much needed mentoring session he spoke of kids crowding around an iPad for entertainment and how disgusted he was at the fact that kids are so disconnected from each other nowadays and are almost set to fail. Additionally, an old high school friend was watching Play School with her little one and made note of the fact that they were teaching kids how to play ‘computers’, ‘google search’ and ‘how to call a tradesman’. I know right?!?!
So how about unplugging for an hour, a day, or a week? Consider taking a meditation break during the work day, or a day of rest, or a week-long vacation. The peace and solitude will do you wonders!
The time is nigh to allow each other more reprieves from the hunt for constant digital connection, so that we can find and maintain other, deeper connections.
Enlighten. Empower. Evolve.
PMM Lifestyle & Performance
AA, BA (Behavioural Sciences) University of Tasmania
MSW & Clinical Counselling Griffith University
Certified Level III/IV Trainer
ASCA Qualified Strength & Conditioning Coach
ASCA Sports Nutrition
ASCA Mentor Coach
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Arctic Monkeys – Arabella