Have you ever participated in an internet challenge?
Every so often, one goes viral across the internet, such as the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness and donations for ALS a few years ago. There have been many others whose purpose was a good cause, such as the 30 day push up challenge for fitness, but some internet challenges are just plain silly or even dangerous, like snorting cinnamon or eating ghost peppers. Or they are just for fun, like staging a video where everyone stands frozen in place like mannequins.
Since it seems like we are running out of ideas for worthwhile challenges, I have a suggestion. I successfully executed this particular challenge last weekend, and I highly recommend it. Ready?
I stayed off the internet for an entire weekend.
Renee Regent, Unplugged
I not only survived, I totally enjoyed it. It felt better than I expected, and my stress level decreased dramatically. So what drove me to do something so drastic as to unplug completely?
First, this has been a crazy (in a good way) year for me personally and professionally. My day job/business enterprises went through significant transformation, and I am still in the process of working all that out. I have been trying to sell my home and move, with all that process entails. I also launched my first novel last month, the first of a 3 book series, so all that goes into an indie produced work was added to my workload (editing, formatting, covers, promotion, etc.) I asked for all of this, so I am not complaining. But where social media might have been an escape of sorts in the past, lately it has become inundated with political views, news, and posts about important causes. I am not giving an opinion on anything in particular, just saying what used to be mostly social has now become nonstop ads, articles and opinions. Since social media is integral to my businesses, and I also use it personally, I am on it for a good portion of each day.
Maybe it was all of this on top of post-election fatigue, but I woke up one morning and I simply did not want to deal. With anything. I had a mile long to-do list but could not bring myself to care about any of it. I am not prone to moodiness or depression, but I had no mental energy left. My husband was worried, because it was unusual for me to be in such a funk. So he suggested we go away for a short weekend trip to the beach (which is unusual for him, because he hates to travel). After much resistance, I gave in, thinking maybe I did need a break. But he had one condition─I must agree to unplug for the entire weekend.
How To Let Go
Normally, I am on my phone/ipad/laptop constantly. The internet is such an integral part of our daily lives, and it is tremendously convenient. So the idea of staying off the internet sounded difficult at best, but here’s how it went:
We had our phones with us, and only checked periodically to see if there were any missed calls or texts. If anything urgent occurred, we could respond. This way, that sense of “I can’t be without my phone, something might go wrong” was eased. We limited our responses only to emergencies, or to let family know we had arrived safely at our destination (pictured below).
We did not check emails, social media, or any apps.
We did use our phones to take photos. This little guy on our hotel balcony eating crackers from our hands was too cute to pass up.
My husband and I actually talked, laughed, ate, drank and walked all over the place. We didn’t have to tell the world what we were doing minute by minute, and that actually felt nice, more private. Like a secret tryst, the experience was ours alone.
By not seeing what the rest of the world was talking/arguing/complaining about, we were able to focus on just us for a few days. By not checking our phone every five minutes, we paid attention to our beautiful surroundings and each other.
The dramatic “I can’t deal” mind-set was replaced with “I can handle it” as time away from everything changed my perspective.
Peace of Mind- at Least Temporarily
I came home feeling refreshed and ready to face the challenges of my life again. The lack of stimulus allowed me to focus on us, and what we were doing in the moment. I put aside all thoughts of my to-do list, and the future. Being in the moment was incredibly freeing.
So here’s my challenge to you. Free yourself for a day, or even longer if you can. Whether you go away or spend quiet time at home, the internet will still be there when you are ready to jump back in. But do yourself a favor, and take a break once in a while. You might be surprised at what you find.
Have you unplugged recently? How was it?