Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How to Unplug

Written by Heather

Since sharing on my personal blog about our family's recent practice of unplugging once a week, I've been hearing from readers about their own interpretation of the idea. Many people have felt motivated to try it for themselves (yay!), others have written with a single burning question.

How on earth do I unplug?

This is such a fair question. We are highly stimulated, easily bored individuals. The idea of implementing something so radical (and much needed) as unplugging one day a week can leave many  with a huge sense of "how do we begin?"

The hardest part of most things is beginning.

Let me toss around some ideas and attempt to answer this great question for you today. Keep in mind, my perspective and experience is singular. The comments of this post will be a great place to add ideas and encouragement for each other.

Start small.

The beauty of Unplugged Sunday is that it is a state of mind more than it is doctrine. You have the flexibility to create your own approach. I use the word "unplugged" with a (slightly) metaphoric tone. 

Consistently though, people express feeling overly plugged in and in need a technology break.  I know I feel that way.

The term "unplugged" is not absolute, though it captures what many of us need.

For us, an unplugged day focuses on three things.

  • computers do not get turned on 
  • no ipod (texting or games - music is fine)
  • no TV (though we are open to a movie at the end of the day if our teenage daughter suggests it)

In addition to the things we don't do - there is a long list of things we love to do:
  • spend time nature, hiking or swimming
  • listening to music (full albums, start to finish - so good)
  • sewing
  • drawing/painting
  • gardening
  • cooking special meals 
  • photography
  • reading for hours
  • embroidery
  • knitting
  • fluffing corners of my home - fresh doily, new flowers, etc.
  • visiting with friends and each other
  • meditation
Sit down with your family and talk about it.

Discuss what everyday influences you could use a break from, write those down. Then dream up a list of simple, healthy, soul-fulfilling activities that seem to get bumped from the schedule of day to day living.

Try to make your list of unplugged ideas longer than your list of take a break from ideas. Abundance is good!

Of course, embracing a full day of nothing is wonderful too.

The true spirit of unplugging lies with the intention. Many of these activities are part of our day to day living, but with an eye on the clock because there is usually some responsibility that  we need to move on to at some point. 

On this day, there is the absence of time.  Never was there a day longer than one without the internet.

When we began, we jumped in with a full day practice. This isn't necessary. Some people may decide to unplug for an afternoon... or one full weeknight evening.

It may take a little effort at first. That is okay.

Don't be afraid to put a little work into this. The rewards are well worth it.

If you have younger children, they will be more likely to go with the flow. If you are the proud parents of independent minded teens, you may need to open up communication and meet in the middle. Your family will come to a place of commitment that feels right for all involved. Allow for that.

Some families will choose to have no media on this day. For us, we are open to a movie in the evening if our thirteen year old initiates it. It's not something Adam and I would be drawn to (we would prefer to just keep going with a full day of quiet), but it's something we 
allow for because she really enjoys it.
Unplugging is not a punishment. It is peace and freedom.

At it's core, unplugging is about peace of mind, connection, and  living. For most of us, adopting this lifestyle is uncharted territory. A little communication, curiosity and patience may be all you need to fully engage.

Please let us know, on your unplugged day, what do you need to let go of? What would you love to add?

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