Since the onset of COVID-19 in early March 2020, I’ve found myself aghast as wave after wave of terrible news hit me like a tidal swell against a fragile dam. On my computer I have tabs open to various news websites so I don’t miss a single update, announcement, or news conference. When I’m not on the computer, I’m scrolling through my phone – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, etc – and reading more about the terrible effects of COVID-19 on friends, family, acquaintances, and small businesses.
When I’m not attempting to keep up with the latest news, I’m working. While I am now back in the office, I still spend many hours per day communicating with colleagues and other stakeholders through digital means such as Slack or Zoom. While it’s great to connect with everyone, I can’t help but feel a sense of emptiness.
What is this emptiness? It’s difficult to pinpoint but I suspect it has something to do with digital overload. COVID-19 transitioned our lives from an already “always on” world to something that could resemble an artificial environment without natural interaction and an overload of information.
Community, or the ability to still connect with everyone mentioned above has been what’s getting me through and I suspect this applies to others as well. It looks, sounds, and feels different but the concept is still the same. The main issue is that staying connected and holding onto a resemblance of what life was like before COVID-19 means a steadfast reliance on digital technologies.
Our happy hours, team building exercises, and heart-to-hearts are important but it’s added time on screens making it harder to get away and just be with ourselves during this difficult time. Is this about self-love? Sure, if you want to call it that. But, I think it’s more about acknowledging this unprecedented time of slowness, of isolation and the opportunity to look within, to quiet down, and reconnect with reality.
To do this, we must find time to unplug. And, doing so has many benefits:
Giving Our Brain a Rest
The biggest benefit of unplugging is that we truly get our “Me Time” back. It’s not until we turn off that we fully understand how busy and noisy our lives are. When we are able to turn off, the world becomes quiet with information being easier to process. This is also when new ideas and creativity is at its highest!
True “Me Time”
In our “always on” lives, it’s easy to forget what to do when we have free time and it’s just ourselves. In fact, some people struggle with this very notion (I know I do!). When you take advantage of true “me time” you should look inside and ask yourself how you are feeling. Reconnect with your true self and not the one that presents at the office or on social media.
Spending Time with Loved Ones
While life is accelerated due to technology, our overstimulation makes us irritable and strips us of compassion. Our fulfillment comes more from how quickly we can accomplish something instead of the people and things that make life wonderful. Plus, when we’re not always in a rush or distracted, we’re more pleasant to be around.
Retaining a Sense of Control
How many times have you checked your work email or social media only to end up spending hours and hours scrolling or responding? It’s happened to all of us and points to the fact that we aren’t in control. Technology has dictated our time for too long but we have the ability to correct this and regain control.
A Sense of Accomplishment
Unplugging doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it may simply mean no screen time before 9 am or not checking your phone an hour before bed. If you can, choose one day a week to completely unplug for the full benefit and an amazing sense of accomplishment knowing you’re taking care of yourself amidst all the noise. And don’t worry – those emails, text messages, and notifications will be there for when you get back.
Do you have any additional benefits to unplugging? Any tips or tricks? Share them with me by emailing email@example.com.