Thursday, February 5, 2015
Doesn’t everyone sleep next to their mobile devices? Or at least next to their cell phone? My iPhone is my alarm clock, which tends to be my excuse as to why it’s the last thing I look at before going to sleep and the first thing I reach for when awaking every day.
I had an unhealthy attachment to being connected; that is, until I realized how disconnected it was making me.
I am someone who was always within arms reach of my iPhone. If I couldn’t see it or hear it making a noise to alert me of something, I felt off. The only times my mobile devices weren’t within arms reach was when I was coaching clients. So, obviously I knew how disruptive this attachment could be. I am not sure what triggered my change but sometime mid-last year I started feeling irritated by the constant texting and notifications beeping from my iPhone. They started to feel intrusive. At that same time, I began spending a lot of time writing down by my pond. This was a place I didn’t take any electronic devices with me. Just my notebook and pen (yes, I was writing longhand.) In addition, I live in an area without cell phone coverage so the only connectivity is via wireless internet in my house. The pond is far enough away from my house to make the wireless signal unavailable; hence, another reason for not bringing electronic devices with me to the pond. The more time I spent down there without my iPhone and iPad, the more I enjoyed it. It was quiet, uninterrupted time.
I also realized that the more I was connected to the electronic devices and all the social media available on them, the more disconnected I was from what was occurring around me; whether it was the conversation I was having with another person or the present activity at hand. My iPhone could always divert my attention, which is why I found leaving it behind and going “off the grid” for periods of time so refreshing. It was so energizing that I added it to my list of “what’s in for 2015“. My 24/7 attachment to my mobile devices is out this year and time off the grid, without connectivity, and in nature is in. So, how can you actually give up that attachment (if you’re anything like I was)? I will share some of the ways I’ve done it:
First, leave your devices behind- on purpose.
We’ve all had that momentary panicky feeling after leaving the house of, oh no, I left my cell phone at home, and, 99% of the time, will drive back to get it. On the rare occasion that happened to me, I started to actually NOT go back to get it. Then, I started leaving my phone home on purpose; not for long outings but for shorter errands like going to the post office or running out to get gas. What was the WORST thing that could happen? I actually learned to drive in the late 80s, that time long ago before cell phones, and I survived. I certainly would survive without my phone for 30 minutes of errands. This is an important step to simply getting used to being without your phone and, well, surviving.
Second, go somewhere where you cannot get cell phone coverage.
Yes, these places actually exist and I live in one of them. AND, it’s not that far from Washington DC. There are many rural places (like Rappahannock County, VA) where cell phone towers are few and far between. Find a remote place where you cannot be connected and do something that helps you reconnect with yourself instead. Read, write, knit, meditate, or spend focused uninterrupted time with your loved ones. It’s amazing how easily you remember how to reconnect with yourself and your loved ones without your cell phone or tablet there to interrupt you. You might be tempted to check it and make sure nothing is coming through that you need to see but I promise, if you go somewhere off the grid, nothing is getting through; and that’s the point! This leads me to the third way to let go of your attachment to your electronic devices and that is:
Spend time in nature.
Like me, I’m sure most of you spent a lot of time as a kid playing outside. The older and the more connected to the cyber world I’ve gotten, the more I’ve forgotten how wonderful it is to re-connect to our amazing Mother Earth. Being outside (without any mobile devices) and simply breathing in the fresh air, looking at the sky, sitting under a tree, or even sitting on a park bench connects you back to the core of who you are and the kid inside of all of us who spent endless hours playing outside. The more I did this last year and continue to do it now, the more I realize how much I need it to feel at peace and how much I don’t need to (or even want to) be connected to my iPhone 24 hours a day! And this leads me to the final way to release the attachment to mobile devices:
Don’t sleep in the same room with them.
Don’t be like me and use the excuse of “it’s my alarm clock”. Instead, do what I eventually did and get an old fashioned alarm clock. Leave the iPhone and iPad downstairs at night. For me, that was probably the hardest thing to do but the more regularly I implemented the first three practices, the easier this one became.
Those are my four practices to release the attachment to mobile devices which has worked quite well for me the past 6 months. I’d love to hear what you do to disconnect and get off the grid and reconnect with what’s most important to you. Feel free to comment and share!