Life @ U of T

Introduction

Ways to Unplug in a Time Where You Always Have To Stay Plugged

Ways to Unplug in a Time Where You Always Have To Stay Plugged

We are in the middle of uncertain times and we’re learning to adapt to a ‘new normal’. But, you know this already. You’ve probably heard it at least once this week. Amid the pandemic, we know that we are in uncertain times, so why do I feel like I’m always reminded?

We are constantly plugged in now.

For many of us, our school, work, shopping, ways of socializing, have been moved online, shifting to a virtual platform, for the most part. We use a virtual format to make the most of our circumstances as physical presence is an on-going challenge. Yet, throughout these months, a setback I’ve experienced is being consumed by this exact “virtualness” that I’ve engrossed myself in. Too much time scrolling through social media, constantly monitoring the latest headlines, so anxiety-ridden over communication with friends due to lack of physical context – I struggled to figure out where to pull the plug when it’s been implied that online is practically my life now.

Having our work and student life in a virtual space, we are more watchful and careful of not missing that important email, watching the time for that online meeting, making sure those pre-recorded lectures aren’t broken links. Still, I found a few ways that I could unplug, to give myself a needed break from my screen but also allowing me to keep my work and student life in place.

Unplugging When You Can’t Avoid the Internet 101:

1. Use an app blocker – Downtime, StayFocused

Downtime is perfect for IOS users!

I use Downtime for my phone but any app blocker allows me to block or limit apps of distraction whenever I need to check my emails or do other work/school-related tasks. When I need to unplug and I have my app blocker on, I find myself putting my phone down quicker and checking it less when I see social media apps “blocked”.

For app blockers you can choose which apps you want to block – this is great because I work with music and I’m still able to enjoy music from my phone without getting sidetracked.

A great option for desktops!

2. Eat your meal with your phone out of sight

Bowl of raman with an egg seasoned with crushed pepper.
*Shh it has an egg so it’s healthy*

This can also include computers, tablets, or anything with a screen.  When I started eating more mindfully with little distraction, I found it to be the perfect opportunity to unplug because it doesn’t require a lot of time, and yet just enough to enjoy time away from the screen.

With no screens or distractions, the satisfaction of the meal increases and you can ultimately enjoy the meal more. It felt strange to not have my phone with me while eating but the more I did it, the more I enjoyed having that moment to unplug.

3. Try a hobby that doesn’t require a screen

Reading, drawing, baking, hiking, gardening, to name a few. Some hobbies do have virtual aspects but the point here is to look for something that allows you to feel like you’ve plugged out.

For instance, I thrive on drawing and I use the internet for finding references but the virtual aspect doesn’t take over and is relaxing for me so I still feel “disconnected”.

4. Take a power nap

There are times where I am so stressed that I can do nothing but take a rest. I’m aware of the pile of work ahead of me but on occasion I know deep down that my body does not have that energy to push through. A short rest can do a lot here.

While naps can make half a day go by for me, I know those days are what I need to recharge – to plug back in for the next while. In a productivity-focused culture, I think it’s important to emphasize how one period of rest can go a long way.

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