Battling Stress and Sharpening Focus: Unplugging

Part of the primal lifestyle is managing stress in order to live a healthier, more fulfilling life. Here is one way I’ve been combating stress recently. I hope it helps! -Chuck

The last week of June and the first week of July, I was struggling with major burnout, both at work and with my personal projects. Nothing I did seemed to shake it. I was getting adequate sleep, I buckled down and finished some of the projects that were giving me anxiety, I worked from a coffee shop in the afternoons (a change of scenery usually helps), but I was still burned out and irritated about it.

Come the evening of July 3, still no change. Since I had the next day off of work, I decided to do something I haven’t done in a long time. Relax. I mean really, truly relax. With no distractions. I put an auto-responder on my work email, texted those closest to me and told them I was going to be unplugged for the next 24 hours, then shut off my phone and my email and put them out of sight.

Unplugging might be fairly easy for you, but it surely isn’t for me. My livelihood is directly related to me being online and working on my computer. Even outside of business hours, I constantly monitor multiple websites, social media channels, and my email. If anything happens, I am on it. Unfortunately, this adds more stress to my life than I realized.

After I shut everything off, I read for an hour and then went to bed. At that point, I was a little unsure whether or not unplugging would help, but I didn’t think it could hurt at all. After all, I was so stressed out that it couldn’t have made things worse. It was nice to read without distractions for an hour, though.

The next morning, I awoke well-rested (without an alarm clock) and didn’t immediately reach for my phone, which was still turned off and sitting in my bag in the other room. I got out of bed, grabbed a glass of water, and sat on the couch for an hour as I gazed out of my window at Midtown Atlanta. For the first time in a while I sat and thought without mindlessly surfing Twitter, checking my email, or refreshing my Instagram feed. It felt good.

The rest of the day went pretty well, too. I didn’t go to any July 4 parties or fireworks shows–I just stayed around the apartment with my fiancee and read, relaxed, and cooked. When I am not tired or stressed, I absolutely love cooking. By lunch time, I was in good enough spirits again to cook and enjoy it.

The biggest advantage I had from turning my technology off was regaining my focus. I didn’t realize how much I mindlessly check my email, Instagram, and Twitter on my phone. When I pause to think, my phone comes out and I do little to no actual thinking. Without distractions though, I was able to plow through The Brothers Karamazov at a really good rate.

For more on reducing stress by turning off technology, read (or watch) these:
Taking Email Vacations Can Reduce Stress, Study Says

Paid Vacation? That’s Not Cool. You Know What’s Cool? Paid, PAID Vacation.

Brad Feld’s Quarterly Week Off the Grid (TEDx)

My goal is to do one night during the work week off the grid, as well as either Saturday or Sunday each week, depending on what my plans for the weekend are. I know it won’t be easy, but I can’t afford burnout.

Unplugging really does help in managing stress and improving focus. Do you routinely unplug? Do you have tips for the rest of us? Let us know in the comments.


About Chuck Grimmett

I am the product manager at Praxis, a startup that helps people launch their careers. When I’m not online, I prefer being outside and/or reading.
This entry was posted in Ailment Relief, Play, stress and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Battling Stress and Sharpening Focus: Unplugging

  1. fitnessgall says:

    I love this! Should do this today, it’s crazy howmuch i’m checking instagram and facebook during the day.
    Thanks for the reminder 🙂

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