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Jo Laird Headshot

My Friends Are Checking Out

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"Getting Off the Grid" seems to be the vacation of choice this summer. No specific destination required. Whether for a weekend or a week, friends are quietly disappearing, out of sight and out of reach. When they return, they're refreshed and calm and happy, and they want to tell you all about the joys of disconnecting.

I know how good it feels to cut the cords (or should I say airwaves?) and leave the pressures of the world behind. It's the foundation of my Bed Camp strategy to take time for yourself, to learn how to nurture yourself and keep those unnecessary stresses at bay. The ultimate goal is to take it beyond special events and make it part of everyday life.

The benefits of getting off the grid on vacation are immediate and obvious and likely include more than just turning off your electronics -- more sleep, more comfortable/beautiful surroundings, maybe a good book you can read uninterrupted, some time on the beach and, if you're lucky, someone else is cooking and bringing dinner to your table or lunch to you on a tray, poolside. Enjoying it all without annoying distractions. I'm sure you get the idea, and the attraction, of getting away from it all.

The benefits of getting off the grid once back at home, a little bit each day, are more subtle but can last longer and have greater impact. Maybe you just start with turning off your phone during dinner. You might not even feel the benefits at first, or maybe your text fingers are twitching, but once you realize the world doesn't stop spinning when you do, that life goes on when you take a pause and that not all those so-called immediate demands on your time demand immediate attention, you'll stop feeling guilty or twitchy about unplugging, calm down and get more engaged, and engaging, with your dinner companions. In time, hopefully not too much time, you'll see and feel the difference.

Instead of allowing my phone to manage me, I manage my phone. For starters, I set it to block phone calls at certain times of the day, except calls from my kids and that one call I've been waiting for. Just for a bit of time every day. Once you start to envision your phone as not a constant tug on your time, but as a helpful lifestyle tool, it's easy to begin to turn to Siri for support, to help you find things or type emails and lists, and to keep the world at bay. Siri works for me.

Whatever phone you own, open your mind and try to imagine the ways it can help make your life easier, to not be so demanding. Set some limits. Start to look at it in a different way and come to appreciate how it can be used to support your life, not control it. Remember, you own the phone. It doesn't own you, no matter how cool it is and how many fun things it can do.

Once you conquer your phone, look around at other things in your world that exert too much unnecessary control of your time. It can be your other electronic toys or family, friends and co-workers who don't respect your space and your need to be alone it in sometimes. Put some space between you and them.

Yes, it's a good idea to take a vacation off the grid this summer. Enjoy every single minute of it. And, once you get home, figure out a way to take some hops, every day, off the grid.

For more about making your life a bit easier, finding time to nurture your soul and keeping stress at a distance, visit my blog at http://www.bedcamp.wordpress.com.

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