Unplugging. What a Concept.

Do you know how to relax? I’m not sure I do, especially after reading this article in the Guardian about unplugging and learning to relax. So much of what the author describes resonated with me. Sad to say that although the full-time RVing lifestyle puts the tools for relaxation at my fingertips, I still have a hard time with this concept.

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Is relaxation only for the retired?

According to a report by Ofcom this summer: “Most people in the UK are dependent on their digital devices and need a constant connection to the internet.” It found that 78% of us now own a smartphone – rising to 95% of 16- to 24-year-olds. We check these phones on average every 12 minutes of our waking lives, with 54% of us feeling that the devices interrupt our conversations with friends and family, and 43% of us feeling that we spend too much time online. We can’t relax with them, and we don’t know how to relax without them. Seven in 10 of us never turn them off.  — ‘Learning to relax can be life-changing’: how to find your comfort zone

I hope your holiday was good. Our was. We spent the last few days with family, doing Christmasy things. And as much as I enjoyed seeing my parents and extended family, eating and drinking too much and celebrating the holiday, being away from everything going on “out there” in the rest of my world was unsettling. 

What was I missing? Did something need my attention? Was there someone on Tripawds who needed help? I worried. All. The. Time. 

I resisted “checking in” on things, doing my best to stay present and appreciate how fast time is flying with my aging parents. But it was mighty hard to do it.

It’s easy to blame the fact that Jim and I built a living around being online and being available to our customers and members 24/7 without fail. Most of the time we succeed in our goal to do that, and I wouldn’t trade what we do for anything in the world. But at what point is our goal interfering with our human need to just relax, to just be? I’m not sure.

This weekend we have dear friends traveling a very long way to see us and ring in 2019. I’ve promised Jim and myself that we will take a mini-vacation, and stay away from our laptops. I want to be present. I want to see things around the Salton Sea we’ve been talking about exploring for years. And I want to enjoy the people I care so much about without the constant interference of devices and apps and phones and everything that consumes our digital life now.

Wish me luck.

(P.S. I hope you find the Guardian article a good read, and will consider helping this great newspaper with a year-end donation. We need more intelligent news like this, it’s becoming a rare commodity in this world).

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2 Responses to “Unplugging. What a Concept.”

  1. Rene,
    It’s important to “unplug”, I was a little concerned when I read your article a few weeks back about not needing a vacation because you are “full-time”. Everyone needs to get away and unwind. Nancy & I both had medical professions when we had to be on-call in our previous “sticks and bricks” lives. At that time, most non-medical employees left work and didn’t have much to do with work until the next day. Those of us on-call were jealous. Granted our call might only be one week a month, but our beeper might go off while playing volleyball or at 3 am while sleeping and we had to answer it, someone’s health was at stake. Times have changed, it seems like many people with non-life supporting jobs are expected to be available during off hours. While good customer service is important, it’s usually not a life and death situation. Maybe all this connectivity has contributed to many of the ills our society faces. We do know that stress increases cancer, hypertension, suicide, obesity and many other things. Feeling you need to be connected all the time is stressful and as you stated people feel stressed when they try to disconnect.

    I think it comes down to planning. Plan a vacation and announce to the world, via your blog, website, auto answer feature in your email, etc in advance that you will not be available from day x to day x then go have fun. Take baby steps, maybe only do it for 3-4 days the first time, but your goal should be to take a week at least. Another way to ease into it, is to cover for each other. Maybe Rene announces that she won’t be available for 3 days, but Jim is available for emergencies, switch off. You might be surprised that your customers are okay with it. You might not worry as much knowing Jim formally has your back, If there are no earth shattering crisis, then your comfort level to be disconnected may improve and you may find it easy to do.
    I struggled with this same issue when we were working for AGS, Nancy was better at it than me and helped me do it. Also, I’m passionate about fly fishing and it was much easier to disconnect if I was near a trout stream.

    Life is to short to be tethered to the internet 24/7. I think its more of a mind set than an actual problem. I hope you and Jim can enjoy the weekend with your friends. This sounds like a New Year’s resolution in the making.
    Good Luck, Hugs and Happy New Year.

    • Larry, you always have such good ideas to share, thanks. When I wrote that vacation piece, I was thinking more in terms of those traditional 1-2 week vacations that most people take. But this time around, I’m just trying to envision taking a few days away from the devices and honestly, I just don’t know how we can do it without paying dearly for it somehow. Time off always seems to bite you in the butt when you return to the working world.

      Take this morning, for example. We got up later than usual, didn’t sit down to work until 10 and then all hell broke loose. I forgot a conference call I was supposed to dial into, missed an important email the other day and had to respond asap, customers were flipping out about tracking numbers not received, people on Tripawds needed help, one wants to donate over the phone and I still need to call her back….it goes on and on. I sound like a whiner, and don’t get me wrong, I am soooo grateful for all that we are able to work on to make a living. It just seems like whenever we decide to slack off a bit, things go haywire.

      You are right, it comes down to planning. Making this happen on a regular basis IS a good goal to have in 2019, because I know that time off, if only for a day or two, is good for the soul and mental health. So it’s time to walk the talk. Thanks for the encouragement.

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