You’re sitting down to dinner with the family. It’s been a long day. Everyone was working, at school, and running around doing errands. You look forward to this time. It’s a good time to unwind and connect with the people closest to you.
You start to talk about your days to one another. A question comes up – something someone can’t quite remember.
“Oh, I’ll just Google it.”
There’s nothing wrong with the suggestion. A phone comes out. Suddenly one person has completely disengaged from the conversation. Seeing one phone out, another makes an appearance. Soon there are several people with phones, not speaking to the people across the table. What was a nice family meal, may as well have been waiting in line at the coffee shop.
Has this happened to you? It’s happened to me a lot.
We had to institute a “no phones at the table” rule, with a zero tolerance policy. It doesn’t matter who it is – no one has a phone at the table. If there’s an emergency or urgent call, it’s taken away from the table.
This rule was established mostly because of our son – he’s 3 and we want to model good behavior for him, but also we want to be present. I do a lot of work during the day with screens, so at night, I make sure to disengage from screens for him.
I thought it was just for him.
Then I went out of WiFi range for a week and it felt amazing for me.
Why You Need to Unplug
I read that unplugging was helpful, but I didn’t realize how helpful until I did it in earnest. When I say unplug, I mean minimize screen time – minimal time with smart phones, laptops, tablets, and televisions. Why is it so helpful? Let’s count the ways:
By getting away from screens, you’re able to slow down. There is less pressure on you to perform, to “keep up with the Jones’” on social media, or even to find that esoteric bit of pop culture that came up in conversation. There’s no reason to do those things, and so there’s less stress on the mind, body, and spirit.
Unplugging helps you be fully present. By removing the distraction of screens, you are able to focus on the wonders and beauties of now, whether it’s a stick bug hanging out on the garage door, a delicious quiche, or the company of a good friend (Note: In my class here I talk about the benefits we receive by being fully present!).
Unplugging allows you to pay attention to your body. You are better able to respond to bodily needs, like fresh air and exercise (which bring a whole list of other benefits).
Besides the benefits to you, unplugging clearly communicates to the people around you that you value them – it sends a message to others their time is valuable to you, and therefore, they are valuable to you. This makes people feel good, which helps you have more positive interactions with others.
You are better able to foster positive relationships when you unplug. If you are unplugged, you can pay attention to other people, practice active listening, and demonstrate active love throughout your interactions with others.
All of these things are ways you can show love to yourself and others. Unplugging is a great way to demonstrate active love in a number of areas of life.
There are major benefits to unplugging, but this isn’t to say there aren’t benefits to being online. There are. Just as I miss being home, I also missed my online spaces. The key to this is balance. We need balance in all areas of life, including our time with technology.
This week, block out time where you are completely unplugged. For some ideas, try one of the following (if not all of them!):
Spend at least an hour a day where there are no screens, or pressure to use them. Pick a hobby to do instead, either alone, or with another person. Be sure to explain to the other person this time is spent without screens (although with many activities, it would be hard to use a screen too!).
Make meal times completely screen free. If you go out to eat, the first person to touch their screen/phone pays for everyone.
For more quality bonding with your family and or friends, set up a board game night, or a picnic in a park with games (Soccer? Bocce? Badminton?).
If you want to be really hardcore, turn off your wireless router at a certain time of day (or turn off your data on your phone).
When you do, you may run into a little push back, but in the end, everyone will be better for it.
If you need some help showing yourself and others love, then enroll in my course, The Heart Unboxed: How to Love the Unloveable. I’ll give you all the tools and strategies you need to love more (and change your life for the better!). Enroll now!
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