I spent the majority of my one vacation day in the Midwest yesterday on my phone trying to coordinate awesome ways to spend my one vacation day in the Midwest. Wanting to see as many friends and familiar sights as possible, I was fielding many texts trying to fit each thing into a special box for the day. Instead of really grasping the relaxing part of being able to see friends and family, I found myself prioritizing who I needed to see most and which sights just could not be missed this trip (infamous Portage popcorn stand, duh). The number one thing was to see my best friend’s newborn (see photo for the most adorable child ever), and once that was accomplished, I felt as though I scored an A+ on some imaginary time management test I gave myself. Seeing the adorable Miss Violet diverted my attention away from a stressed out schedule for a moment, but soon I found myself back to freaking out to perfectly plan the last night of my trip. Then, an amazing thing happened –> my cell phone died.
As I rode in my mom’s Hemi truck (she tells me Hemi is cool thing?), I actually smiled as my phone completely shut down. “Thank God,” I said to my mom, as I put the dead phone in a cup holder. All of a sudden, it didn’t matter who was texting me, or when I was supposed to meet them. All that mattered was that I was on a rustic road in the middle of nowhere in Wisconsin that I had driven down many times with my mother since I was a child. Suddenly, my mind shifted to all of the emotional moments in my life the old dirt road had witnessed through the conversations I’d had with my mom on it over break-ups, make-ups, new boys, old boys, new friends, old friends, a sister’s death, a best friend’s baby’s birth. My phone died, and my life was suddenly flashing before my eyes J
The magic fairy dust that resulted from my phone’s tragic death continued into the rest of my night. When I got back to my mom’s house, I had to plug my phone in and wait for it to charge back up. As I waited, I went and sat with my grandpa in his den, and the next thing I knew he was teaching me to waltz to the Mollie B. Polka Band.
My phone died, and I was suddenly living again.
See, it’s incredibly difficult to step away from technology. I am sure you can all relate. It’s incredibly, incredibly difficult to step away from technology when your career is social media. However, there is no way I would have gotten this far without some very lovely relaxation, unplugged tips. While this weekend, it took my phone literally dying for me to unplug, I try to intentionally unplug at least once a day in order to regain perspective and peace of mind. Here’s five things I find useful:
This is one of the tougher ones for me, but it absolutely saves my life when I make myself do it. I first started yoga when I was living in NYC and needed something to break up the crazy days of subway commutes and ridiculous drama.
Along with yoga, I started meditating when I moved to NYC. I use the Chopra Center guided meditations, and choose one depending on what I am dealing with that day. For example, if I’m not getting along with someone I use “Letting Go of Pain” or if I just didn’t have time to breathe that day I use “Perfect Health”. Taking time out of my day to meditate has improved my life on SO many levels, that it actually deserves its own blog post!
I intentionally set dates with people in my life in which neither of us will look at our phones. An ex-boyfriend actually started this trend by taking me on unplug weekends when I first got into social media. I thought he was insane and wrecking my career by even suggesting that I unplug for a weekend, but it actually did wonders for our relationship and my career. I went to work on those Mondays with a lot more clarity and rest.
“Forgetting” Your Phone
This is a little trick I use that I probably won’t be able to use now that I published it in a post 😉 When worse comes to worse and I just can’t imagine pulling myself away from my phone, I “forget” it at my house. If the phone isn’t with me, I can’t really be attached to it, right?
This is a HUGE one. You can do whatever you want to detox, but if your friends and family don’t respect it, or understand it, you are going to have a problem. I realized taking an hour out of my date for yoga and meditation initially freaked people out. I used to always be available, and when I wasn’t, they thought something was wrong and demanded an explanation. I now set the expectation that I won’t be available during a certain hour every night. This not only saves me some explaining, it also saves me returning to a phone full of texts after a peaceful mediation, because my close friends and family now respect that time.
It’s easier said than done, but unplugging is a CRUCIAL part of being a social media strategist, and, frankly, a decent human being. While it seems contradictory, it’s mandatory that we take care of ourselves and our own peace of mind before going out into the world. I can’t possibly strategize how to reach people if I am burnt out on always having to answer texts, Tweets, emails, voice mails 24/7.
I challenge you to take at least twenty minutes each day this week to unplug and experience what a difference it makes.
Have other ways of unplugging in your own life? Share them in the comments below!
– Marji J. Sherman