Unplugging: the new necessity

balance work and personal lifeIn a previous blog post, we discussed un-plugging from the virtual world including from media, and from work, as I do in the summer to take some much-needed time off at a cottage in the remote Quebec countryside for a week of peace and quiet.  Upon my return, everything is still functioning, even though I’ve taken a full week to un-plug.

This year though, COVID came for me just prior to leaving so I didn’t do much more than sleep. Usually, though, I spend the entire week reading, knitting and writing. I love to kayak on the lake in the mornings when the water is still. It’s very peaceful and lets me just think about things without all that daily noise in my head. Some might say that I’m downright lazy during my week off.  Is that okay? Yes, it certainly is because I deserve it. Do I miss technology when I’m at the lake? No, because I don’t need it there.

For those that are making the attempt to relax and take a break from work and media, but don’t want to travel, a ‘staycation’ may be an option. Whether by themselves or with family in the house there are a variety of ways to relax such as spa-at home days, reading, creative projects, music, further learning or games. No matter what the relaxing activity there are plenty of ideas out there to get the staycation started!

While the suggestions below may require some online research to get started, once the information is found, there is a choice to shut off this technology or enjoy it depending on the person. Maybe they are a true “no tech staycationer” or maybe they “un-plug” while playing online games, watching movies, listening to music and so on.

In the spirit of getting the staycation underway, here are a few resources if you are not sure what to do:

Want to relax in your personal spa?  The PennyHoarder has some fantastic ideas for creating materials for a spa at home and as a bonus creating some of these can be considered a little project!

Do you have a creative side and would love to work on something, but are not sure what? DIY Projects has a few ideas to check out. Maybe you just want to enjoy art or music from home, but don’t have access to great works of art or music. Check The Guardian’s list of virtual museums and art galleries, Billboard’s and Glamour’s lists of virtual concerts and performances. Even orchestras have live performances online as listed on classicalfm.

Do you just want to learn something to keep your brain moving or perhaps you miss the library completely?  There are a number of open university courses out there to get you thinking and OpenLibrary is an excellent online library if you are just looking for something to read.

Or maybe you want to get up and get moving, take a look at Runtastics 28-day at home workout.

It doesn’t matter how you “un-plug”.  What matters is that you bring yourself to a place of relaxation and contentment, while staying safe.

TIME OUT!

Now that summer is here, some of us may head off to the beach or a cottage, some may be working in the heat of summer, while still others may be getting comfortable near a fan. As noted in the acrostic above, summer is an opportunity for us to do a few things to keep ourselves calm and relaxed as we unwind this summer.  And let’s face it, we deserve it after the year we’ve had!

Slowing the pace 

By taking the time to stop what we’re doing, or interrupt the daily cycle to listen, take a breath and live in the moment, even for just a minute, we can gain tremendous benefits such as lowering stress levels, lowering our heart rate and improving our mood and psychological engagement.   Lifehack.com has a list of ways to slow down in a fast-paced world.

Unwinding and unplugging

Try going a day (or longer) with no technology, explore the magic of un-plugging. That means no phone, no television, no media of any kind.  Instead, why not try taking a relaxing bath, read a good book (preferably made of an ancient fiber called ‘paper’), playing music or painting, or any other activity one would consider “old school”.  By taking note of how you feel at the end of the day or more with no technology and note if you had an unwound day without it. Getting in touch with some of the old ways of doing things can make a difference in one’s day and it can actually help you feel mentally refreshed.  A colleague mentioned when she needs to unwind, she bakes some bread but doesn’t use machines to make it.  Just a bowl, spoon and her two hands.  She swears by it as a stress reliever.  Personally, I knit dog sweaters throughout the year – it’s very meditative and I find I process information and solve problems while the needles are clicking away…

Meaningful time for us

Don’t feel guilty about taking some much-needed quality or meaningful time out just for you. How we define that time may be different for everyone.  Perhaps it means to be alone to collect your thoughts without interruption, or it may mean making time for family and friends.  Just remember to not feel guilty about taking that time back but if you need some convincing on why it is important to take the time for yourself, Psychology Today runs through a few reasons to not feel guilty about solitary time for you and Time.com talks about the importance of meaningful time with those around us (socially distanced, of course). 

Motivation to move

So far, we have talked about slowing down, unplugging, unwinding and taking time for ourselves.  This all sounds pretty relaxing, but what about the importance of getting up and moving?  While this almost feels counter-intuitive to the strategy of relaxing, exercise can make that relaxation all the more impactful by adjusting our body chemistry to reduce stress and boost mood, allowing us to better make use of our previously discussed methods for relaxation, as mentioned in Harvard Health. Alternatively, if the heat has got you down, taking a dip in the nearest pool or lake is another great way to stay in shape.

Explore our environment

While you’re getting up to exercise, why not take it outside. It’s summer after all!  This gives you a wonderful opportunity to mindfully take in nature within your neighbourhood, or local trails.  In our busy days, we don’t always get to take in the beauty of our environment.

Remain relaxed

Finally, some days just feel like chaos rests at the top of our minds. This is the perfect chance to try some meditation exercises (check out the ‘Calm’ app) to quiet the chaos, reduce stress and bring us back to that place where we can once again enjoy a slower pace by unwinding and making our summer a meaningful one. 

Have a wonderful summer everyone!