How do we unplug when we are always plugged in?

Before the pandemic, researchers were already reporting the detrimental effects of extensive screen time. Then life went to another level with video conferencing and zoom fatigue. Now we have reached crisis levels with respect to mental health. We must reclaim time in our days, weeks and year to disconnect from technology to allow our brains, bodies and spirits to refuel.

As a consultant who has worked virtually for almost 15 years, I learned early on that I had to establish practices that helped give my brain and body rest on micro, mini and macro levels.

Prior to the pandemic, I wrote a blog called Three Steps to Managing Your Energy. I just read it again and it still holds true. However, now I need more of every step to counter the cognitive load of zoom fatigue.

Unplug daily: I still charge my phone in the kitchen and don’t look at it until after breakfast. I also block one hour as zoom-free every day and I leave the computer off one day on the weekend.

Walk the dog, or just walk: My day starts with a dog walk without technology. It helps me ease into my day slowly and gather my thoughts to start the day.

Go to your happy place: As November rolls around every year, I start to feel a deepening need for pausing and recharging. This is something that I have been attentive to for the last five years. 

In the Midwest, the sun starts to hang lower in the sky and the days get shorter. All of these changes affect my energy level so I intentionally plan a break to spend time in a sunny place for at least a week. 

I block my calendar a year in advance so the time is protected and usually go to Hawaii to connect with the earth, moon, sun and water. It fills my spirit, mind and body.

Generally, I take this time alone to reflect on what I want to celebrate for the year and what intentions I want to set for the coming year. The sun brings warmth to my heart and clarity to my mind. 

I just returned from Hawaii and was fortunate to be there during the November 18-19 partial lunar eclipse. Being in Hawaii allowed me to watch the entire process of the earth’s shadow falling on the moon. This was the longest lunar eclipse over a 1,200 year period. To witness an astronomical moment such as this gave me pause to evaluate what is important in life.

Photo Credit: Mary Stelletello

Every day the sun rises

Photo Credit: Mary Stelletello

And every day the sun sets

Photo Credit: Mary Stelletello

As humans, we can choose how to honor each day and what mother earth has been offering us for millennia.

So when you feel like you can’t unplug, take a breath and think about ways to start your day in a different way. From there, it becomes easier to reduce the amount of time in front of the screen to refuel your energy tank.

Nurture Gratitude

If you are a regular subscriber to Vista Global communication, you received the recent blog post titled, What Is Your Life Raft In The Sea Of Pandemic Trauma? In that blog post, I shared the “Tiny Survival Guide” from The Trauma Stewardship Institute which provides 15 ways to build resilience.  One of those actions is “Nurture Gratitude”.

As we begin the month of November, people in the United States start to look toward the Thanksgiving holiday and what they are grateful for. This practice of nurturing gratitude can be an ongoing simple practice that strengthens our resilience on a daily basis.  

By asking yourself every day, “What is one thing, right now, that is going well?” AND writing that down or speaking it out loud, starts to shift the mindset that we hold in viewing the world. It builds our capacity to have empathy for others and creativity to identify pathways to a better future.

In the “What I’ve Learned” Thrive Global Podcast: Adam Grant on How to Make the Most of Gratitude. Adam shares a powerful insight about gratitude. He states, “My gratitude practice has not been to experience more gratitude – it’s been to express more gratitude.” 

Find just one reason to be grateful right now. It can be something simple or obvious, but don’t take it for granted. You can say things like, “Thank you for keeping me safe during that accident,” or “Thank you for giving me a roof over my head.” Take a few moments to reflect on the positive portions of your life. Then, write it down or speak your gratitude out loud.

Dr. Carmen Harrra, a world-renowned intuitive psychologist shared in 6 Habits for Better Mental Health, “Your mind is the precursor to your reality. Guard it, honor it, and make it a safe haven – this practice will change not only your mental health, but your future.”

So how about starting today and continuing every today until the end of 2021?

“What is one thing, right now, that is going well?”