Last week my husband and I took a short trip to Lake Tahoe for some down time and much-needed relaxation. Since we drove, I packed all the food we would need. I didn't want to leave the cabin except to walk in the fresh air or sit under the trees on the back deck.
I thought that would be enough to relax me. I thought I knew how to decompress. I was wrong, I didn't.
Of course my iPhone and iPad (constant companions) came along for the ride. I brought several books but was most anxious to read Arianna Huffington's latest book, Thrive.
Arianna's talk at BlogHer, had struck an important nerve in me. A very tightly wound nerve. I knew I was over stressed, over scheduled and not making enough time for me. I knew Thrive would have the message I needed to hear and the tools I needed learn.
In Thrive, Arianna encourages us to focus on our mental and emotional well-being, health, and practice slow-living. Self care as a measure of success, rather than how much prestige and money we have. She focuses on the importance of meditation, sleep, mindfulness, and our society's need to unplug from too much social media. Hmm....
I enjoy social media but I'm somewhat of an Instagram addict. I began snapping pictures with my phone, the minute we got to the cabin....so I could share on Instagram. I finally made myself set my iPad to play classical music, settled down to read more and came to this quote:
"And by so-obsessively documenting our experiences, we never truly have them." -- Sherry Turkle, MIT professor and author of Alone Together
What was I doing? Why was I so addicted to social connecting and sharing? Was I really living A Well Styled Life, or just showing one?
I decided I had to unplug from all social media and phone contact, right then. Cold turkey for 24 hours! I actually used my iPad to snap a visual of me powering off my phone...which I proceeded to share! That borders on crazy in my book!
The first day was surprisingly easy. I got a lot of reading done and went for a long walk. By evening, I didn't miss being plugged in at all. It was fabulous! As the 24 hour mark rolled around, I felt no desire to plug back in.
The second day was even more relaxing and I started hounding my husband to also unplug.
Nearing the 48-hour mark, I felt slightly panicked at the thought of all those emails, texts and updates I knew would be waiting when I fired things back up. I really didn't want to plug back in.
I turned things back on around 4:30 and almost immediately posted "dinner" to Instagram.
OK. That's. Just. Sick! Did I need a 12-step program for Instagram?
My relaxation evaporated, once my phone was back on. Even though I was still in a pristine cabin surrounded by gorgeous nature, I saw things differently. I saw things and wanted to share, not just enjoy.
In 2012, Harvard researchers found that sharing information about ourselves activates the same part of the brain associated with the pleasure we experience from eating food, receiving money and having sex. -- Disclosing Information About the self is Interisically rewarding
A little online (of course) research found these "No Distraction" tools and apps that help people stay focused or unplug.
-Anti-Social -- a social network-blocking software that allows you to avoid distracting sites.
-Nanny -- Chrome extension that blocks distracting sites from your browser.
-Self Control -- Can keep your computer off-line for preset blocks of time.
-Rescuetime -- presents you a readout tracking your online activity at the end of the day.
-Freedom -- completely blocks the internet from your computer for a set time.
-Time Out -- reminds you to take a 10 minute break every 50 minutes.
I'm now trying to find a healthy balance between totally wired and totally unplugged. It's harder than I expected.
How wired in are you? Have you tried unplugging for more than 24 hours?