Learn to Unplug: Make Time to Decompress
There are days when the multiple devices I rely on for connectivity and productivity can overwhelm me. My phone rings when I’m in the middle of my yoga session, having dinner, or spending time with my family. Office chat notifications pop up at the top of my laptop screen even as I try to focus on an urgent document. The buzz of an incoming text alerts me in the middle of a conversation I'm having with a friend about an important matter.
I get up from my desk, stretch, and vow to take things one at a time, to slow my mind. I go to the kitchen to make a cup of tea — and that’s when my dog barks! There’s a delivery guy waiting at the door, as I’m expecting an important package, so my dog is correct to alert me. Man’s best friend!
Smartphone addiction is eroding the quality of our lives — apart from preventing us to live in the moment, it has a negative impact on everything from our sleep and our mental health to our relationships. According to a 2021 study, about 50% of the respondents said they spend five to six hours on their phone every day on an average, not including work-related usage. That’s a lot of precious time we can spend in more wholistic and healthy pursuits!
Sometimes there’s just no way around these things. But, given the chance, I do try to unplug. It helps me decompress and improves my ability to step back and see the bigger picture — both in business and in my personal life. If you feel a constant, irrepressible urge to check every notification — or your apps even when there’s none — and to reply to every text the instant your phone lights up, you, too should learn how to unplug from all devices and find time to destress.
Live In the Present
Make time in your busy day for a mindful moment. If you are chasing deadlines and a long to-do list, a pause can help you destress, and reassess and look at problems in a new light. It will also help you remain calm even amid competing emergencies and deadlines. Try this mindfulness course by Jay Vidyarthi to reclaim your attention by living wisely and intentionally.
I unplug by turning off my phone and computer at times, eating mindfully, listening to music, reading a book, walking in nature, or swimming in the salty sea. These valuable moments of decompression help me stay present, mindful, and in good spirits.
Every day, when I wake up, I take 10 minutes to prepare for the day ahead and spend some time away from my devices in quiet contemplation as I prepare for sleep. If you find it difficult to put aside your devices, this meditation by our expert teacher Vimalasara will guide you through a practice called STOP that will help you reflect on your digital addiction.
Learn to Sleep Better
While some of us sleep effortlessly, many of us keep scrolling on our phones hoping to doze off but end up staying awake for hours; or worse still, wake up in the middle of the night. Why are we not sleeping properly? Sleep doctor Michael Breus gave me all the answers in my podcast.
Michael has also devised this Power Down Hour technique, which can help you sleep better. So, treat the last hour before your bedtime as the power-down hour and mentally divide that hour into three 20-minute segments. In the first 20 minutes, attend to all the things you need to do to wrap up your day — send that email, reply to that text, close out all the open items. In the next 20 minutes, prepare for bed and attend to your hygiene. Set the last 20 minutes aside for prayer or meditation, or just some quiet time with yourself.
You can also relax to some calming sleep music to help you drift across the planes of consciousness into a state of total tranquillity.
Slow Down to a Natural Pace
The frenzied speed of business and the potent mix of social media and online conversations these days outpace the human mind’s ability to properly receive, process, and channel the constant churn of information available to us. Take some time off from the various channels we’ve convinced ourselves are indispensable, but in fact are not. We don’t need to always know everything about everything, and can find peace in the knowledge and communication that really matter to us.
I suggest that we simplify our lives and pace ourselves. I’m not saying we live our lives in slow motion, but adjust its cadence to meet our brain’s abilities and our soul’s needs.
Rather than living at the mercy of technology in a world filled with screens, we can enhance our lives by reclaiming what it means to be human. Reconnect with friends, face to face. Show your love by cooking a meal together. Enjoy the early morning light, a sunset, a rainbow, a child’s smile, a bird’s song. Sometimes, you just need to let the dog bark!