Unplug and Unwind: Why Disconnecting is Essential

We’ve all gotten caught up in the never ending stream of notifications, texts, emails, phonecalls, DMs, likes, and comments. Smartphones trigger a dopamine loop that gets you hooked and constantly checking your phone, smartwatch, computer…etc. It’s a difficult cycle to break, and although it’s widely accepted that these behaviors are detrimental to our health and well being…here we all are, still doing it. Before iPhones were universally accepted as the phone to have (shutup Androidbois), we had Blackberry, Nokia, and a whole bunch of other smaller manufacturers (Motorola RAZR fans anyone?). The features were basic because that’s all we needed. Blackberry integrating email was probably the start of all of this.

Notification Overload

I remember using an app on my Blackberry phones that allowed you to customize the color, frequency of blinking, and vibration patterns for each different type of notification. Instead of just a single blinking red led, I’d know that a green led meant a missed phonecall, a yellow led was a work email, a blue led was social media, etc. Yeah…it was a notification, in a way, but it was also an easy way for me to ignore things that didn’t need an immediate response. My iPhone has no such feature…unless you turn on custom focus modes which…isn’t really the same thing. I’ve turned off almost all the notifications on my Apple Watch, and now I barely wear it anymore because I’m tired of seeing a notification that distracts me from whatever I happen to be working on. They’re productivity disruptors.

89% of us check our phones within 10 minutes of waking up. That’s…just wow. I’m usually guilty of it too. While there are certainly times I need to take care of something early in the morning…it’s rare that the reply couldn’t wait a couple of hours. So instead of waking up and checking my phone, I’ve started getting out of bed, heading to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, and then going to sit in the living room to read a chapter or two in a book before our daughter Maeve wakes up. I usually have 10-15 minutes or so to read, enjoy my coffee, and generally unwind myself a bit before starting my day. Sometimes I get closer to 30 minutes and feel relaxed but energized by the time we get Maeve out of her crib.

Making Routines

Those little moments of peace in the morning are something I am trying to turn into a routine but it’s hard to do EVERY day. Some evenings after we’ve put Maeve to bed I will grab a cigar, a beer, and head out to sweat on the front porch for a bit. Sure it’s hotter than hell but I still enjoy taking the time to relax. Amazingly…when you’re not thinking about work, busy schedules, and all of the other big stresses in your life…you can actually come up with some really great ideas for how to handle those upcoming tasks. I do a lot of brainstorming in these moments of peace. Reading has always been my way of unwinding, and I’ve talked a lot about that already. I just finished The Panama Hat Trail and feel like taking a trip down to Ecuador (where Panama hats are from).

So naturally my next book is And a Bottle of Rum by Wayne Curtis. Exploring the world with rum cocktails sounds fun, and the historical significance of that spirit is very interesting to me. I wouldn’t mind having a Dark & Stormy right now, actually. Perhaps my next book should be about tequila. I love learning more about things like that.

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