It’s 2016 and we all have smartphones and we’re all plugged in all the time. Especially if you work for yourself and/or have a web-based business, you see every moment as an opportunity to engage. I’m always catching myself snapping photos for Instagram or wondering how some little thought I just had would make a great post. I struggle to turn my mind off in yoga classes, because I’m taking mental notes on how to incorporate this sequence/pose/theme into the next class I teach, and there’s basically no line between “on the clock,” and “off the clock.” But I’m not complaining, because this state of constant multi-tasking is a choice we all make, and I know it’s up to me to unplug.
Last spring I knew I needed a vacation, but even that I tried to make productive at first; I considered visiting friends, or doing more yoga (which, for better or worse, is work-related for me), or going to a meditation retreat to, you know, force myself to relax. Realizing my need to fully take a pause, I decided to fly to Mexico, where I camped on a remote island and had no phone or internet access for a week. I catch myself longing for that again, but I know there’s some middle ground between “always plugged in” and “remote island in Mexico.”
I know there’s a way find balance, but we have to do it for ourselves.
I’ve written about the importance of unplugging, and about the power of stepping outside your routine to check in and see who you really want to be, what you want your life to look like. But we can’t always fly to Mexico, or Europe, or isolate ourselves in the woods somewhere to do it - and we don’t have to. It’s both possible and important to create this space in your everyday life. Maybe you can find more clarity, more fun, more adventure. Perhaps you’ll learn more about yourself and feel less like you need a vacation all the time. Maybe you’ll enjoy the day-to-day a little more, and stop waiting for that elusive “someday.” Maybe.
Here are some ways I try to be a little less plugged in, all the time:
- Meditation is a great place to start, learn more about beginning your practice here.
- Leave your cell phone at home next time you go out or run errands (so scary, I know).
- Try talking to your partner or roomies or cats instead of watching TV all night.
- Pick a day of the week (or maybe a half day to start) to not check the interwebs – no email, no social media.
- Go for an aimless walk / hike / bike ride.
- Take yourself out to dinner, and actually look up from the table (phones and books serve as great crutches here, try to minimize usage).
- Read a book! And no, not a self-development or educational book, read one just for fun!
- Go sit somewhere beautiful. Find a sunny bench, a cozy spot in the park, a nice view – maybe even in your own home – and just take it in.
- Journal. Just free write, don’t worry about it being meaningful or insightful or even cohesive; let your pen go wild.
- Notice what you do while waiting - for a stoplight, in a line, for a friend to meet up. Put the phone down. Look up. Take a deep breath. Notice what's going on around you.
- Stay in bed. Isn't that the ultimate feeling of leisure - that state in between sleeping and awake, pulling the covers up over your head for just a little longer?
- Take the long way home. What's the rush? Walk a few extra blocks, swing through a new part of town, or catch the sunset from a good viewpoint. You'll still get there eventually.
- Color! Pick up one of those trendy adult coloring books and zone out as you try to stay inside the lines.
- Get your favorite beverage at a coffee shop and sip it slowly, mindfully, while people-watching.
- Take a bath. I'm personally not a bath person but I hear they are very relaxing. I love them in theory because there's really very little multitasking you can do from the tub. (note: leave your phone in the other room)
- Do the thing you always wish you had time to do. Relaxation is different for everyone – I find cooking and cleaning out my closet to be super therapeutic, but I know that sounds like work to some. Find the thing you're always saying, "I wish I had time for..."
Start small – choose one thing and actually schedule time into your week for it. When that time comes, commit to doing it. Show up fully. Drop whatever feels “more important,” and definitely drop any guilt that comes along with being "unproductive." You are important; make time for yourself.
What’s your favorite downtime activity? Share in the comments below!
Megan Cuzzolino is a storyteller, life coach, and yoga instructor in Brooklyn, NY. Her biggest love is freeing others from overwhelm so they can tap into their own desires, but she also finds her bliss cruising through Brooklyn on her bike or enjoying a good book at her local coffee shop. A recovering office-dweller, Megan's mission is to feel good, love life, and keep it simple. You can follow her adventures and read more of her stories here.
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