“Today with the advent of digital, we’re even more connected than previous generations… can we really afford to not unplug?”Eric D. Garcia

We’ve all been there before. Maybe you promise yourself that this is the last email of the night, or that you won’t be logging back into Facebook until it’s really important.

Whether it’s for work or play, we find more and more that it’s all too easy to be consumed in the digital world around us. Sure, new advents like smartphones have boosted productivity and given us a convenience never before possible. The world is literally at our fingertips, and that level of seamless tech integration into our daily lives is nothing short of miraculous.

Still, if we start to spend more time in that world, than we do in our own physical, that’s when we start to run into problems…

Work might start to lack the same meaning it once had, and even important relationships might start to feel ordinary and unengaging. What’s hardest to pinpoint (and often eludes even veterinarians and industry specialists alike) is distinguishing when the use of technology is actually being used for more harm or good.

The reality is, the world of non-stop news and ongoing social media activity creates a constant noise; a buzz that serves as an undercurrent to world events and social interactions at every level. This type of noise, compounded over time, can start to exhaust us and wear our energy down to the point of total burnout, while creating a level of stress that can actually be detrimental to overall health. Stress is linked to a variety of severe conditions, from heart disease to asthma, depression, accelerated aging and more. When stress inhibits your sleep (like it used to impede mine and from time to time still does) this can damage your body’s ability to recharge, heal, build antibodies and perform optimally. This can eventually lead to an increased likelihood of developing dementia and even Alzheimer’s. Side note: Arianna Huffington’s book “The Sleep Revolution” will scare you into getting more sleep.

So, it’s important to be mindful, and even vigilant, of the power that technology wields. Even though new technology is an incredible thing, it can actually catalyze a great deal of harm when misused.

That’s why it’s more important now than ever, to consider the benefits of carving time away from technology and understanding the rewards that this sort of practice can yield. I recently spoke with dvm360 about the benefits of unplugging, which entails disconnecting from all technology in a methodical way, in order to enhance your physical and mental well-being.

In this article, and in past posts, I have shared tips for an extended unplug, which can last two weeks (or more) and promotes a total disconnect from your smartphone or other technology you typically engage with frequently.

Today, I’ll share tips for #UNPLUGGEDMoments, which instead allows you to carve out the time you need to recharge, anywhere and anyhow you see fit! This can be particularly empowering if you don’t have the time or resources to take an extended getaway or leave your home for a full-on vacation. Instead, these moments are there whenever you choose to seize them. It can be an afternoon spent in the park with your phone on silent, or taking a few hours in the morning for breakfast and exercise before turning your phone on.

These moments can help to hold you over during particularly stressful times, and you can get better at identifying when they’ll be most beneficial over time. For example, if you’ve started to lose sleep over work, are especially agitated or otherwise anxious, it may be the perfect time for your next #UNPLUGGEDMoment.

So, go ahead, steal the moment!

These tips will help you to make the most of the unplugged moment that’s right in front of you:

  • Decide what rules are right for your unplugged moment. On my unplugged moments, I prohibit phone calls, text, email and social media. If there’s an exception to the rule (like an emergency phone contact, which I do recommend) make a note of it and follow accordingly.
  • Decide what you want most out of the experience. If you’ve been feeling distant from a friend or family member, you may decide to invite them to a dinner where you both leave your phones at home. You may just find that your interactions are more focused and meaningful without the extra distraction. If they’re confused about why leaving their phone behind is important – you might want to share this article with them.
  • Stay a step ahead…of yourself. If you’ve decided to unplug for the weekend, try turning your home computer off. Maybe even take the chord out of the wall (a literal unplug gets extra points). Out of sheer habit, you may head over to the computer to turn it on, but by making sure it’s actually disconnected from the power, it will stay off and serve as a buffer against your muscle memory.
  • The same goes for smartphones. I move all of my most impulsive apps to a less accessible screen, so that if I get the sudden urge to open Facebook out of impulse, the icon isn’t where I usually find it. This serves as a reminder to myself, “I’ve hid my apps for a reason.”
  • Get creative! It can be tempting to wait to unplug, searching for the perfect vacation or sometime in the future when everything aligns just right. Those extended moments can be hard to come by, so plan an hour, or a day, depending on what’s best for you and realistic. You can decide to walk to a new part of town with your phone turned off, so you can enjoy a lunch or coffee in peace and quiet. You might spend a whole weekend camping, which is also an amazing way to connect with the world around you, without depending on technology.

When you unplug properly, whether for a moment or for a month, you find that something incredible happens. Not only do your senses come alive (food tastes richer, colors are more vivid), but your sense of curiosity and joy starts to grow too.

Life is no longer about getting back to work, but it’s instead about loving what you’re doing, whatever that may be in the moment…