Learning How to Unplug and Be More Present

If I’m not at my computer, my smartphone is probably within arm’s reach. I always have Internet access at my fingertips, and as a result, I find myself up late checking email because I get distracted each time a notification pops up. It’s hard to unplug.

I know I’m not alone. So many people are constantly online and engaged in social media. For some, it’s critical to the work they do. It also keeps the line of communication open with our friends and helps us stay in touch with our families.

That’s why I was shocked when I realized how good it felt to unplug for a while. I know it’s trendy to announce a Facebook hiatus or to update your Twitter status to “I’m off the grid this weekend,” but my digital detox wasn’t planned at all.

I decided to start attending yoga classes. If your cellphone rings, hums, or buzzes during yoga, you will get the evil eye from someone. After all, yoga is all about relaxing, meditating, and working up a sweat — not checking your Instagram notifications.

When I turned my phone off for that first class, I had no idea how truly attached I was to online access. When everyone else was concentrating on their breath, I was wondering if I was missing any time-sensitive emails. As I moved into a new pose, I instantly thought of trying to snap a selfie to post on Facebook. I was a mess. I couldn’t focus on the class at all and wondered how everyone around me was so Zen and relaxed. I still felt like I had 27 tabs open in my brain.

Now, I unplug. I give myself a little digital detox every Thursday during yoga class, and sometimes I unplug in the evenings, too. At first I felt like I was missing out on something by not being online all the time, but at this point, I don’t have any regrets. I often leave my phone at home during evening dog walks, silence it during dinner, and tuck it in my purse when I’m out with friends.

I don’t need to be connected to the world beyond my personal space when life is happening right in front of me. Since I’ve started unplugging, I’m more aware of what’s going on around me. Instead of racing to the next thing, I enjoy the current moment more fully.

With that said, I’m not against smartphones, laptops, tablets, and computers. I depend on them daily for work and pleasure. But I’ve come to realize that, every time I’m not busy, I don’t have to mindlessly scroll through Facebook or Twitter. Instead, I can grab my camera and go create pictures for my scrapbooks. I can roll around the yard with my dogs. I can get my kitchen messy with a new recipe. Later on, I can post about it on Facebook if I feel like it.

After all, if you’re not living life, what do you really have to post about online anyway?

Image source: Bigstock