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How I am Learning to Unplug and Slow Down (Part 2)

In continuation of yesterday’s post

I’d like to share what I have been doing to unplug and slow down. And I do mean practiceThis is work. Even after the initial discomforts, it is something that I’ve been needing to consciously put into place. Even schedule and plan. Maybe this is not needed for everyone. But for anyone like me who is sensitive to overstimulation yet finds themself easily lured into the distraction of to do lists, productivity and anything to make the time pass, it may need to be a bit more regimented than a more stereotyped vision of “self care.” One day it may will feel more like a luxurious gift to yourself, but at the beginning, it could be a bit disguised. 

unplug

 

Ten Helpful Tips to Unplug and Slow Down:

 

1. Find ways to replace your phone/computer with real paper

I began using my new fancy phone’s calendar to keep track of my appointments etc, which only gave me one more reason to go to it. I have now ordered a beautiful little planner that I am so excited to be able to use instead. I am also writing my grocery list on a magnetized fridge paper pad and putting it in my purse instead of making a list on my phone. Try bringing around a teeny notebook that fits in your purse for jotting down those ideas or reminders. 

2. Get a watch. 

Its way classier. 

3. Unsubscribe to emails and notifications. 

Click that little shrunken “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of each one of those emails you once signed up for and now simply scroll through (or delete) but never actually read. 

Take your phone off of all its notifications! Yes this means Instagram. I’m not saying get RID of the apps on your phone, but you could actually click on the BUTTON when you want to see the likes and comments or messages you’ve gotten. It’s way more exciting that way. Rather than seeing each one as it comes, go into the app half way through or at the end of the day and BAM  – suddenly you have 50 new friends all at once! Same goes for Facebook notifications, snapchat, emails. Make it more intentional and actually click on the dang button. When it isn’t lighting up your phone every 5 minutes, you start to forget about it. Without even realizing it. 

4. Tell yourself you do not have to respond right away!!

You can respond to that email later tonight. They aren’t expecting an immediate response anyways. Heck that’s kind of off-putting. And that person that texted you will only think, “oh she just must be busy doing something cool and REAL-LIFE-ISH. Your response will be just as warranted an hour or two from now. Practice telling yourself, “It can wait. It can wait!

 

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5. Don’t take it into the gym with you!

I know most people (everyone) use their phone at the gym for music, timers, to record their reps etc. But it can also be a time waster and a distraction. My gym sessions tend to be the time where I do most of my thinking – which is good – but when I have my phone with me I start to feel like I have to write down every thought that comes up. Then my workout turns into one big phone vomit where I leave the place with 5 new memos and a 10 screen to-do list. Not to mention I double the length of my workout and spend no where near the time allotted to actually working out than I should have. Thus taking away from my goals. Use your workout to let yourself think the thoughts, but trust that you will remember what is important and write it down/text that person when you are done. Either leave it in your locker, give it to the desk, or put it in a distant corner and tell yourself you will only check it between every 2 sets of exercises etc. 

Put the phone down! You do not need to respond right away! #putthephonedown #userealpaper #unplug Click To Tweet

6.  See the urge

It’s taken me a long time to be able to do this in a way that benefits me. When you feel the urge to look at your phone etc., really take note of it. Sit there as long as you can just telling yourself, “Alright, so here I am with open time and look at me really wanting to go to my phone. How interesting.” Ask yourself, “Do I really have something to go to my phone/computer for? What will I do if I pick up my phone/open my laptop?”  Then make your decision. Whatever you decide to do, you will have a new level of mindfulness behind it. 

7. Literally schedule in those times to take yourself to a cafe with just your journal or novel, or to take a walk without your phone. Plan these times into your week like you would any other kind of appointment or errand. See it in your planner as a non negotiable and schedule other things around it. You don’t have to do it forever! Just choose a length of time, dedicate yourself to it, and know that when it is up you can go straight to your screen and get back to your social media.

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8. Choose ONE thing to do/one article to read

If you feel like you have a number of things on your phone you want to do, or numerous tabs up on your computer you “need” to read, choose one. Do that one thing with full focus and intention, and tell yourself you can go to the next thing later on that day. Doing one thing with more intention will feel much more in control and less anxiety producing then skimming through tab after tab in a half minded fury. 

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9. Be mindful of when you are NOT doing it.

We aren’t perfect. We can have this goal to live a certain way, decrease our anxiety, be kinder to ourselves etc. etc…. and still have plenty of days where we give in to our old habits and find ourselves right in the place we told ourselves we would not be. I’ve had many days since this goal of mine where I found myself – yet again – spending an entire break on my phone, or entire evening on my laptop. Or where I have been extremely aware that I was making to do lists in my mind just to distract my thoughts from unwanted feelings. The difference is when you are able to say, “okay so THIS is exactly what I’m working to get away from. THIS is not what I was wanting to be doing.” Or even, “Ugh this is totally going to make my anxiety worse.” Keep doing it… accept that your goals just aren’t going to win that day… forgive yourself… and just see that this is the thing you are trying to get away from.

Being mindful of when we are working against our goals is actually a step towards them. #goalsโ€ฆ Click To Tweet

10. Use writing prompts

Sometimes the thought of taking out a journal and writing something introspective just feels like far too much energy required. Hence why coming home and opening up a laptop to mindlessly scroll through tabs and Facebook feeds usually wins over. I’ve been coming home in the evening and opening my laptop out of habit, but then finding myself sitting there thinking, “I don’t even have anything on here I wanted to do. Why am I on here!?”  Having a book of writing prompts near by gives me an immediate outlet and eliminates any extra brain effort to get started.  There’s many journal type books out there full of writing or drawing prompts… I’ve been using this cool magazine I got months ago and just bought one for list prompts! I think they are a wise purchase for all of us.

unplug unplug

 

I know this two-parter was really long, but its something I feel very passionate about right now, and something that I see is really vital to my health and happiness. I’ve learned that I try to find ways to run away from my thoughts because I am scared that if I am not always “doing doing doing,” my depression will come back and I will feel sad. 

Sometimes, yes, the open time brings in a lot of sadness. That is something deeper that I am back to working with my therapist to try and figure out. But as soon as I started literally practicing these changes, I began to feel better. Since making this my work, my anxiety has significantly decreased.  It’s sometimes still uncomfortable and I most definitely still feel that pull to go to my phone or laptop in open time to run away from the thoughts in my head, but I’m working as often as I can to put these things down and learn to not be scared of what comes up.  My thoughts can’t hurt me unless I let them. 

 

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Ten ways to help you unplug and slow down. #anxiety #unplug #slowdown #mentalhealth #happiness Click To Tweet

Tell me,

Do you usually have a number of tabs up on your computer?

Do you feel like you need to respond to texts or emails immediately?

How do you unplug? How does it feel?

22 COMMENTS

  1. chasetheredgrape | 28th Apr 17

    Great tips Cora! It feels great to know that I already implement many of them, allows me to be less harsh on myself when I feel that I am not doing enough!
    I actually grabbed my book yesterday instead of my phone…. Ah it was pure bliss! I sat in silence for 40 mins and read. I felt so relaxed afterwards and so calm. That should be what life is! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Cora | 1st May 17

      Oh I think you are doing much more than most people!!
      Doesn’t grabbing the thing with real pages just give you the warmest feeling? Like you KNOW you are doing something good for yourself. Now that I read your post on the book “Hygge” I wonder how much technology the Danes use??

      • Jen @ Chase the Red Grape | 1st May 17

        Technology is not linked to happiness and I think that’s key for the Danes. Using your phone for example during time spent with friends would be heavily frowned upon.
        Real moments are where it’s at – even if that is just a moment on our own!

  2. Susie @ Suzlyfe | 28th Apr 17

    Love these tips (and love the memes and cartoons!). Something that is helping me? Having my blog broken + serving. I can only do so much about the first (plus, if I do stuff, the changes might get lost anyway) and the second–I literally can’t be on my phone during that time. It is really freeing!
    Susie @ Suzlyfe recently posted…Friday Five Blog Problems and Catch UpMy Profile

    • Cora | 1st May 17

      Ha. Yeaahhhh a broken blog definitely forces you into more non-screen activities. A blessing amidst the curse. And serving… now that I’m back to working I’ve been leaving my phone in my bag for entire days and I don’t even miss it for a moment! It’s great.

  3. Heather @ Polyglot Jot | 28th Apr 17

    Yes!! I’m guilty of needing to respond to texts right away so now I keep my phone on do not disturb and keep the notifications turned off!
    I use a paper calendar for all of my appointments that I keep in my bag and always try to have a book in my bag as well! These are all great tips! Also, it’s amazing to me that when I can’t use my phone, like while traveling or when I’ve been on a cruise, how much I do NOT miss it or need it!
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…Foodie Friday: Vegan Breakfast BurritosMy Profile

    • Cora | 1st May 17

      You are already a pro, Heather! I don’t know how you do it all. And yes I’ve been so wonderfully surprised how – now that I’m leaving my phone in my bag for entire days as I work – I don’t even miss it for a moment!

  4. Sarah @ Bucket List Tummy | 28th Apr 17

    This is so awesome, Cora. Thanks for sharing and taking the time to write all of this and how it has helped you. I love the idea of planning it into your day, just like everything else. That way it is intentional, and it’s not just there screaming our name at all hours. Like you said, people can wait and don’t expect responses right away normally. That’s a good reminder. Have a great weekend!!
    Sarah @ Bucket List Tummy recently posted…Wellness Wednesday: How to Balance Intuitive Eating and ExerciseMy Profile

    • Cora | 1st May 17

      I think it definitely needs to be intentional, at least until it then becomes a part of your natural system. I think people are getting used to my late responses now… haha.

  5. Ellie Pell | 28th Apr 17

    Sometimes I feel like I respond to texts immediately because I just don’t want to have to do it later. I NEVER will allow notifications to show up on my phone app. It’s so distracting. I might suggest you also maybe schedule a set time, like 30 minutes or two 15 minute sessions where you do engage in IG or email. And that’s it.
    I also don’t like taking my phone on runs or whatever. That’s my time to be my best self, alone ๐Ÿ™‚
    Ellie Pell recently posted…Why Iโ€™ve decided to work with Inside TrackerMy Profile

    • Cora | 1st May 17

      That’s also very valid. Responding right away means there’s less cluttering your brain as your day goes on. I’ve really been enjoying giving myself a focused 15 or so minutes in the morning to do my IG or email thing, and then leaving it for the day. Rather than mindlessly doing it for longer. I’ve learned I don’t need all that time to do what I want to do.

  6. Danielle | 28th Apr 17

    This is quite relevant. I’m shifting over from feeling required to be plugged in at all times and wanting that buzz… to actually now needing to unplug and CRAVING structure. I’m shifting away from being plugged in and am looking forward to my new job that will be enough and not require me to plug in at all times. It’s clear to me that I’m never too old to learn and change.
    That’s what’s cool about life. And fuckin confusing ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Cora | 1st May 17

      Oh god… never too old. Never too old to feel confused either. What does your new job entail? Will it have more time to unplug??

  7. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets | 29th Apr 17

    I have five tabs open on my computer right now and I just used my phone to post to IG. D’oh.

    I think these are great suggestions, and I can’t wait to see what you do with your new planner. You know my deep love of mine. It’s relaxing and creative all at the same time.
    Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets recently posted…Week in Review: Positives of the Plague (#80)My Profile

    • Cora | 1st May 17

      Yeah… me too. Don’t worry. Its a practice, right?
      I had to go with a less fun planner this time around, but I’m saving up for a real winner with stickers and the works when either September or Christmas comes. Until then I’m decorating on my own terms. Que the pencil crayons!

  8. Kristy from Southern In Law | 29th Apr 17

    I ALWAYS have a gazillion tabs open and I always have a stack of blog posts to read in my feedly – but the past week I was so busy and felt like I had WAY TOO MUCH to do that I gave myself some grace, hit read all on my feedly, didn’t post everything I wanted to on the blog and actually spent the few hours I had free doing things I needed to do for myself.
    Kristy from Southern In Law recently posted…Recent Things: Being a Bad BloggerMy Profile

    • Cora | 1st May 17

      GOOD. FOR. YOU. I have an impossible time letting go of those posts I “need” to read. I need to remind myself that sometimes there are way more important things that I need to spend my time on.

  9. Kaylee | 30th Apr 17

    I really need to start carrying around a journal to jot my random things down in. I feel swarmed with all my thoughts and want to explore them further thru introspection but seem to forget by the end of the day, when I’m typically writing. It’s actually on my to-do list for the summer to go through and unsubscribe to a bunch of email listings. Past Kaylee, srsly what were you thinking?!!
    HA! I’m the queen of tabs. I actually have this Chrome extension that consolidates all my hundreds (yes, hundreds) of tabs into one tab.
    Love this tips! Thanks for writing this, Cora. On that note, time for me to get off my laptop and journal! ๐Ÿ˜
    Kaylee recently posted…Quick Pizza: Two WaysMy Profile

    • Cora | 1st May 17

      The email subscriptions… they are so easy to sign up for. I seem to be constantly deleting them recently. But believe me, do it. It takes away SO much annoyance.
      Hundreds of tabs!?!? I have never heard of an extension for this. Wow. Mind blown.

  10. Lyss | 1st May 17

    I really need to invest in a watch. That would help me unplug so I don’t have to bring my phone on runs or just use it to check the time!
    Lyss recently posted…Me Just Doing MeMy Profile

    • Cora | 1st May 17

      Its the simplest thing to do!! It was my first action in wanting to use my phone less, and I love it.

  11. A Little R&R | 5th May 17

    […] posts about removing technology. I plan to do that this weekend! I’ve spent way too much time in front of my computer […]

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