“Setting aside protected time each day for direct interaction with people—or for solitude and meditation without the interruption of a Facebook feed or a stream of texts—instinctively feels like a good thing.”
~ John Swartzberg, M.D.
“We’re suffering a sleep crisis,” warns Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post and author of The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time. The chronic need to be “plugged in” is hurting our health, productivity, relationships, and happiness.
Are you suffering from information overwhelm? Are you permanently attached to your device? Does the thought of unplugging send your anxiety spiraling? What if you miss something? What if….what if…
What if you shut it all down and stepped away for a day, a week, a month or more? Consider taking time out to unplug, take a step back, forget about what is expected, forget about what you may be missing, and think about you may be gaining.
Like any addiction, unplugging can be a struggle at first, but the benefits are worth it. Besides the main benefit of being able to enjoy much more hassle-free, uninterrupted time, here are seven other wonderful and lesser-known upsides you’ll notice from making the decision to unplug regularly:
Increased awareness. When was the last time you were fully aware of the beauty that surrounds you? When you unplug you blitz major distractions. You begin to notice small details in people, things, and places that you never really noticed before.
Clarity. Unplugging reduced brain overload. Technological over stimulation overwhelms your mind, reducing your cognitive reasoning skills.
Improved memory retention and mood. Even just detoxing from technology for a day once a week is enough to give your brain a reboot, which can improve your memory and lift your mood.
More brain power. Spending less time being a slave to technological stimulation, provides more time to focus on doing activities that can grow your brain cells—such as indulging in an enjoyable hobby, learning a new skill, visiting a new place, having new experiences, going for a relaxing walk.
Enhanced relationships. Disconnecting from your perpetual tether to iPhones and laptops can do all kinds of great things for your real-world connections with families and friends.This is a no-brainer, but one so many people seem to miss. Putting your device away and giving the people you are with, rather than your device, your undivided attention tells people they’re important to you.
Enhanced productivity. Do you really need constant access to your social notifications, Facebook updates, your email inbox, a bunch of tabs open in your web browser and all sorts of other things to feel in touch and in control? Accumulating interruptions steals peace of mind and minimises your ability to get things done. Any time you’re interrupted from a work-related task by something from your phone or computer, it can take as long as 45 minutes for your brain to refocus.
Mindfulness. When something interesting starts happening, what’s your first reaction? Do you whip out your phone, start snapping photos and begin sharing on social media? Or do you savor the moment and delight in being in the moment? When you unplug, you force yourself to be more present.
“A natural side effect of unplugging is that you stop missing out on what you should be enjoying for yourself, rather than trying to tell everyone on social media about it,” says author Elise Moreau.
Are screens the problem or a symptom?
“It’s become part of our culture to think that being too plugged in’ and too dependent on our devices is the root of our problems, rather than a manifestation of other problems,” says John Swartzberg, M.D.
“Is constantly checking your phone during dinner with your family causing you to be less close to them? Or are you constantly checking your phone because it’s a convenient way to avoid conversations? Are you anxious and having trouble sleeping because you’re spending too much time online? Or are you spending lots of time online to try to tune out your anxiety?” Swartzberg asks.
None of this is to say that Swartzberg thinks it’s a good thing that so many of us are so constantly connected to our devices. “If we spend too much time staring at a screen, the life that is happening right in front of us—our kids’ childhoods, conversations with our partners, work that we can do to help make the world better—may just pass us by.”
Call to Action
Get to the heart of why you’re spending so much time connected to technology. Isolate the benefits and issues, and then make a call whether you need to schedule the time to unplug.
Take a real break from work—check out my interview in the New Zealand Herald, “Escape the Always On Culture,” navigate to here—http://bit.ly/2s7PEWd
Learn polymath Tim Ferris’s 4 steps to lifestyle design: definition, elimination, automation, and liberation. Watch it here: http://bit.ly/1nTs7jq
“Massage has had a positive effect on every medical condition we’ve looked at.”
~ Tiffany Field, Ph. D.
One of my favorite ways to rest is to go for a massage; but, so many people mistakenly think massage is an indulgence rather than a health-behavior.
Some of the many benefits of massage include reduced stress and higher levels of neuroendocrine and immune functioning—which means better hormonal balance and more immunity to disease and illness.
Some studies also suggest that a one-hour massage results in benefits equivalent to a 6-hour sleep.
Sounds good to me, especially when I’m feeling fatigued.
If getting naked isn’t your thing, consider an energy healing treatment with a trained Reiki practitioner.
Reiki is a Japanese word. Rei means universal transcendental spirit and Ki stands for life energy. Hence, the word carries the sense of universal life energy. Many scientific minds, as well as sage healers, have throughout the years believed that the universe is filled with this invisible life energy, and life and health of all living beings is sustained by it.
Increasing evidence suggests that there does exist a superior intelligent force which contains all creation and out of which all life arises. The energy of this force pervades everything and this is the energy that flows through our hands in concentrated form when we treat with Reiki.
Reiki healing is the ancient art of “hands-on healing” and offers a natural and holistic approach to mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.
You don’t have to believe in any religion or be particularly spiritual to benefit from Reiki. It’s an inclusive, non-religious form of healing and safe for everyone.
When I was experiencing a huge period of stress, I gained so much immediate benefit from my Reiki treatments that I decided to learn this beautiful healing technique. Recently in Bali, I completed my master level training.
You don’t have to be Reiki-trained to live by the principles developed by Reiki founder Dr. Mikao Usui: “Just for today do not worry. Just for today do not anger. Honor your parents, teachers, and elders. Earn your living honestly. Show gratitude to everything.”
Call to Action
Give yourself the gift of a therapeutic massage or Reiki treatment.
This is an edited extract from Stress Less. Love Life More: How to Stop Worrying, Reduce Anxiety, Eliminate Negative Thinking and Find Happiness by Cassandra Gaisford. To purchase your copy and learn how to stress less and love life more, navigate to: getBook.at/StressLess to go to your online bookshop
“Currently, my workload is pretty intense and a little stressful. After reading this book I felt less stressed and more focused. I highly recommend adding this helpful book to your collection.”
~ Paul Brodie, Eight-time Amazon bestselling author
“This is another of Cassandra’s well researched and thought-provoking books, this time focusing on stress and how to best manage it. Cassandra has packed this book with great suggestions to help the reader cope with stress; brings statistics to life with colourful side stories and includes many helpful quizzes to enable the reader to gauge for themselves where their stress levels are at.
I particularly liked the Happy at Work tips. But mostly I enjoyed the way the book moved along the subject never allowing the reader to consider whether there were better books out there as this book contains everything a stressed reader, or even someone wishing to help a person who is stressed, maybe looking for in the way of practical suggestions and thought-provoking information. I highly recommend this book.”
~ Catherine Sloan, counselor
“Reading Stress Less brought me real inspiration to incorporate Cassandra’s stress-busting strategies into my daily routines. While it was not news to me to read there is a correlation between reduced stress levels and self-care, meditation, and not over- “boozing,” the book (and it’s revealing quizzes) really drove home to me the necessity of actually putting self-care into practice.
Cassandra effectively demonstrates how high-stress is largely self-perpetuated, and anyone can become empowered to free him or herself from stress-inducing patterns and environments. Stress Less is well-researched, full of helpful links for further reading, listening, and exploring, and is an easily navigable resource to which I am sure I will return.”
~Amy Stokes, editor
Recently I was contacted by Kristina Mastrocola, an editor with Woman’s World magazine in the States with a circulation of over 1.6 million readers. She writes a weekly feature called “Ask the Ultimate Experts” for which she asks experts at the top of their respective fields for their tips and advice on everything from how to keep your brain young to how to lower your medical bills.
Kristina is writing about surprising ways to help readers reduce the high cost of medical care—something I am personally and professionally passionate about. So, I was thrilled to hear from her. She came across my book Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy on Amazon and said she would love to share a few of my tips and insights with her readers.
We completed our interview last week, for an article due to hit stands in the States on the 8th of March. If you live in the States you may love to grab a copy—it will only be available in glossy print (not on the Web). For those readers not in the US Kristina has generously offered to provide a PDF I can share on my website. I’ll keep you posted!
In the meantime, I’m busy finishing the final draft of my book, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol and Love Life More, due for release 18 March.
I am an artist, storyteller, intuitive guide, mentor and Reiki master. All my creations are infused with positive energy , inspiration, and light. I believe in magic and the power of beauty, joy, love, purpose, and creativity to transform your life. My greatest joy is helping your realize your dreams. That makes my soul sing!
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