“Unplug and Enjoy”
This year I made the conscious decision to make a change in my life. The change was to focus on me.
Lets get some history and culture out of the way. In this country, you are expected to work. Work, work, work! That is what we are taught from early childhood.
Then we get older and enter the workforce. We work and work. To keep our productivity up, we take on more work. More tasks, more responsibilities, more deadlines, more pressure. We spend our leisure time running to gatherings, going to sporting events, finding the perfect yoga spot, squeezing in a few minutes for FaceTime, downloading the latest Snapchat update, and reading each other’s Instagram stories. We constantly check email, taking time on nights and weekends to respond to the latest work or personal crisis of the moment.
We are completely tuned in and we tune nothing out.
If you’re lucky enough, you might have a job that gives you two weeks’ vacation per year. But good luck trying to take one! “That week isn’t a good week,” you might hear, or “Those days are blocked off,” or “Oh, didn’t you hear? Sharon is due to give birth that month. Maybe another time.” I’m sure you’ve heard similar excuses used by managers, business owners, and corporations to prevent you from ever truly unplugging.
Or maybe you’re lucky enough to get to go on vacation. Congratulations! More likely than not, you’ll spend your vacation with your nose glued to your cell phone, checking in, checking those emails, checking those voicemails, answering those texts, responding, answering, working, working, working! “If I’m not working,” you ask yourself, “am I even alive?”
As an individual diagnosed with ADHD, the compulsion to stay busy is magnified. “Get involved with this!,” I tell myself. “Join this board!” “Volunteer here!” “Sign up there!” “Fix this!” “Tinker with that!” “Fix everything!”
The cycle continues until you’re completely drained. Having been caught in this cycle myself more times than I care to admit, it became clear that something needed to change. So I’ve made a decision: I’ve unplugged. No, not entirely. But for one hour every day (four hours on weekends), I’m tuning out. I’m not checking my email or my Facebook. I’m not returning a call or a text. I’m not playing games online, and I’m certainly not buried in my phone.
What I am doing is just being. Being! Sitting still, alone, or with my family, enjoying the moment, daydreaming and pondering as one does as a child. I’m taking back my time because I deserve at least one hour to myself, unplugged, as a way to rest both mentally and physically.
Since I began my unplugged hours, I found that the world kept turning, even if I wasn’t checking my email. Programs kept running, situations sorted themselves out, and nobody was upset. Life went on.
It was then that I realized I control the chaos in my life. I’m responsible for setting the agenda that dictates my daily routine and for setting the direction I want to go. My brain needs to be in its best possible state to allow me to accomplish what needs to be accomplished, and for that to happen, I need to focus on myself. I can’t set out to make the world a better place if I myself am not in a good place.
So that is my revelation for the year: unplug and enjoy. Too often, I see my students or other young people constantly on the go. If I feel harangued and overstretched by the schedule I set for myself, I can only imagine how much pressure they must feel. Great as it is to be young and accomplishing good things, true inner satisfaction comes from a life of balance. Having a respite from pressure – time to regroup, relax, and rethink – lets you tackle that pressure head-on, in a more thoughtful, strategic way. Students of all ages can take a lesson from this.
And perhaps with a saner, calmer, and more collected mindset, we as a society can approach our individual problems with creativity and grace. We need to tackle our challenges as human beings, not as automatons – and that begins with learning to unplug for just one hour every day.
By; Scott S. Garbini