How To Unplug, Take A Break, and Live Slow
I basically live my life online — working, shopping, and even school — and one day it hit me that I was getting completely disconnected from the “real world”.
As an introvert I will never complain about not having enough people interaction — I prefer it that way actually — but what I found was happening was that I was losing touch with myself and I was also losing my ability to connect with people — to communicate. It was almost as though I was losing a sense of reality that, if unchecked, would only get worse.
That was a little over two years ago and the catalyst for my one year social media sabbatical. While it was only social media, that was the first time it really hit me that I need to unplug for my mental, emotional, and physical health. Fast forward a year after completing that sabbatical — so a full year back on social media — and I can’t imagine not having taken that time away.
But what about the rest of the digital space? Social media, truly, is only one small part of the problem.
As a mom, wife, and entrepreneur, the internet, my phone, television, etc. all became an escape — a break from reality — but like with any “drug” (because let’s be honest here) at some point it becomes the thing you need to escape from.
I would rather binge watch a Netflix original than have family dinner. Instead of taking a walk on a nice Spring day, I’d opt for writing a blog post (don’t worry I’m writing this one when there’s truly nothing else I could be doing seeing as to how I’m a couple thousand feet in the air). And worst of all, I found myself even more anxious because I rushing through life, trying to literally keep up with the speed of technology. Everything became a race to the finish line to the point of not even finishing sentences.
That’s a problem!
I needed to slow things all the way down and it was definitely time for me to unplug again, but how? This wasn’t just about being on social media nor could I keep taking extreme measures every time I got overwhelmed.
So how do you unplug, take a real break, and slow down for more intentional & present living?
Here are some tips that have been helping me unplug for more slow living:
Information Diet — often I was staring at a screen or dialed into my phone because I was “learning” by way of a webinar, podcast, etc. While I believe there is always room to learn, all of that information can get to be overwhelming & just too much. Cutting down on how much I am consuming gives me time to actually implement what I’ve learned while also allowing for a much needed mental break.
Screen Time App — on my iPhone I started paying more attention to the new native screen time app & holy moly guacamole! While my usage was better than I thought it would be, it was still pretty bad. With the screen time app, I now set daily limits to certain apps, and once time is up, that’s it. With the phone being my being gateway to digital distractions setting limits & monitoring usage makes it less of an addiction, and eventually it’s habit forming.
Notifications Free — this isn’t something new that I’ve done but I had to revisit it as I made allowances for some newer apps. Something about seeing that stupid little red notification dot makes everything seem way more urgent than it actually is. To be honest, it’s usually never urgent but knowing that we have a notification, means drop everything and tend to it. Solution: turn off notifications. I am relearning that the world will not stop if I miss a text, email, phone call, like, follow, comment, or any of the other shit we get notified about.
Breathing Exercises — inhale for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts. This was life saving during my pregnancy and truly life changing for me now. As an adult, I am really appreciating what it means to simply stop and take a breath. Nothing says “slow down” more than an 8-count deep breath. In addition to encouraging me to slow down, it also helps minimize my anxiety as I exhale all the bad energy I’m holding on to & replace it with clarity.
Physical Workouts — for a myriad of reasons, I decided to get back into the gym and do actual physical workouts from cardio to strength training, and it has done wonders for me. I don’t record my workouts so that’s at least 55 mins that I’m off my phone, away from a screen. And using my body, getting active, gives me a jolt of energy that cannot be matched my any digital activity. Really engaging my entire body as well as my mind (pushing through those workouts is definitely mental) allows me to reconnect with myself in a way that’s long overdue.
Essential Oils — I wish I knew way more essential oil recipes than I actually do but what I do know is that a few drops in my skin oil or my bath or a diffuser can do wonders for shifting my mood and mind. With the mood instantly set for relaxation, I feel less inclined to want to chase life and instead would rather kick my feet up and get back into the moment. Even just 5 mins of really taking in the aromas — lavender and eucalyptus are two of my favorites — gives me an instant relief from the hustle & bustle of the rest of my day.
Scheduled Family Time — yes, we schedule family time. My husband works a lot outside of the home and I’m forever working in my business, and even when we are all home, we may find ourselves consumed in parenting or just in desperate need of a nap. So I schedule time with my husband, time with my daughter, and time for all of us. And not to say I have standing appointments in my date book, but if my daughter requests a mid day picnic sleepover in the living room, then guess what? The whole day is cancelled because we’re having a mid day picnic sleepover in the living room, no questions asked. Or I may allow myself to nap while my daughter naps so I can wait up for my husband after work & catch up on his day. We can’t always be with one another but by prioritizing it, it becomes easier to forget about everything else & pour into them best I can.
Talk Therapy — two summers ago, I started using the online therapy platform, TalkSpace, to really help me reconnect with me. Last summer, however, in order to really get deeper into improving my mental health and also force myself out of the house, I started seeing an in person talk therapist. And that’s exactly what we do — talk. Again, it’s another block of time that I am away from any and all devices, but she’s also provided me with techniques for my anxiety and perspective to make slowing down seem way more attainable.
Unplugging, taking breaks, and slowing down is definitely a lifestyle change that’s easier said than done...
but not an impossible one.
It’s important enough to me to not spend all my days in a screen, anxious, hurried, and disconnected, so making a few behavioral tweaks here and there is worth it. And in bite-size changes, it’s not all that bad.
I’ve found that I’m more inspired and creative. To that end, I am delivering my thoughts and ideas in ways that are clearer than before. I’m able to take stock of everything around me because I’m not crashing into each day like the Tasmanian devil. Since adopting some of these changes, I’ve written a book (to be published this Spring), pitched & secured a partnership with one of my favorite furniture brands for a project, and I’ve even started reconnecting with friends & family back home the old fashioned way — phone calls!
While still a work in progress, I am definitely excited for the progress & encourage you to find your own ways (or try these) to unplug and live slow.