Do you do it? Do you ever unplug – I mean really unplug? Put the phone away, turn off the TV, and close the computer, turn of the stereo. Why is it that for most of us, self-included, this is a very difficult task to perform?
I was out for dinner this past weekend and the topic of running and unplugging came up. My friend (shout out to Adriano Aldini) and I were talking about his running routine and he said that recently his runs have been phenomenal; being the inquisitor that I am, I needed to know more. He said that he had learned to unplug during his runs and as such, he had improved his breathing, his form, his stride, everything came together for him. He used to run with his watch (to keep time), his phone (to check for any urgent work emails), and his music ( to entertain him), but he was finding that he was coming home from his runs not feeling as focused as he thought he should be. He decided to take his runs “off the grid” and be naked from all distractions – the result, according to him, spectacular. He found that everything about his run had improved, but most importantly and interestingly, he found that he was much more focused and present for the rest of his day.
The topic of his runs led us into a great discussion about “unplugging” and how in today’s society it is increasingly difficult to do so. Most people find this constant urge to be checking phones and emails and get updates on the news about what’s happening in the world outside of our doors that we forget to make time for ourselves. More and more research is making headlines regarding the importance of turning down the blue light as we approach our bedtimes and allowing our minds to simply wind itself down from the hectic day in order to prepare itself for the night of “body repair” ahead. It all sounds so easy, but how do we truly unplug? How do we start to make some small changes that will lead to an adjustment in our daily routines? For some of you, you may already be there and a master of the art; but for those of you who need a little nudge, a bit more of a game plan, here are some helpful tips that I have some up and put into practice:
1. If you have a smart phone, go to settings and turn on (if you have it) the night-shift option. This option will gradually turn down the blue light of your phone and warm it up to an orange automatically for you every day between the times that you set it to.
2. Start a journal (aka diary for adults). Whether you buy one or just make one with a note pad, keep a journal by your bedside and record a daily entry. In journaling about your day, you will force yourself to be reflective upon what went right, wrong, what you were grateful for and what you learned. Taking the time to reflect upon your day has shown to have many benefits including decreasing stress and increasing emotional well-being. What it will also do is ensure that you are unplugged right before you go to bed, at least for a little bit.
3. Create a new habit (that is unplugged). For example, stretching. My husband and I are great at ensuring that we get in our daily workouts, but horrible at stretching; as such we have embarked on a new nightly routine. We have decided to put the phones away, close down the computers and before bed, do some passive stretching, and then off to bed.
4.Find a great book (go old-school, paper - not on a tablet). Another great tip with so many proven benefits. Some of my top fave benefits – helps improve cognition, reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and can enhance your quality of sleep.
5. Be aware! If anything, just be aware. Be aware of what you are doing every day, be aware of how much of your day is spent being plugged in and be cognisant of the fact that you should or may want to reduce that time and replace it with time for yourself.
I hope you find my short list of suggestions useful, they are things that I am currently starting to do myself and are helping me immensely. Wishing you all a great week and hopefully a few more hours of unplugged time.