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The Internet seems to occupy a good chunk of my life. As a writer I'm constantly online, whether it be posting stories, doing research, or chatting with colleagues. And on a personal level I have my vices: Facebook, Twitter, and an RSS feed that seems never ending. But in the last month I've been questioning the amount of time I spend online; I'm starting to show slight signs of carpal tunnel syndrome, and I've been told by numerous friends that I'm on my iPhone way too much — they call it iRude. The point is, I need to slow down.
While staying connected is a good thing, being online isn't the only way to make that happen. Unplugging helps your body recharge, and it lets you reconnect with the world around you. Turning off electronics gives you more time to be active and also gives you more time to focus on the relationships in your life. To make this more of a priority, I have a new rule in my life: when work is over for the day, I turn the computer off. I also leave my phone at home when I'm out with friends for the night. And even though it may sound crazy in this day and age, it's actually liberating. And more importantly, my friends appreciate it because I am completely focused on the present moment.
See if you can challenge yourself to unplug when work is over. Keep your laptop shut off, put your phone away, and go on a walk, take your BFF to dinner, or read a book instead. Let me know how it works for you!
If you're having a tough time stepping away from the Internet, maybe you should partake in Sabbath Manifesto's National Day of Unplugging this Saturday. Taking the tech-free weekend further, spend your evenings dining, talking, and playing board games by the soft light of some clean-burning candles like this romantic D.L. & Co. Black Cassis Candle ($65), made from a blend of soy, maple, and palm waxes.
Here are some pretty, eco-friendly candles to help you unplug and unwind:
I have a lot of gadgets, and leaving any (or all) of them (or their chargers) plugged in when not in use can rack up a girl's electricity bill faster than a hidden coin tunnel in Super Mario Bros. 3. Thankfully, you have the option of unplugging your gadgets and gizmos when you leave the house. Check out these ten power vampires you can unplug when not in use to stop the madness, help the environment, and lower your electricity bills all at once.
It being Wednesday, it's time for a little midweek relaxation. Plus it's Earth Day, so I suggest taking the evening off from your electronics. Save some energy and create some mental space while you're at it. Close your laptop and turn off your TV. Light some candles and take a bath. Go for a walk with a friend instead of sending emails. Catch up on your back log of New Yorker magazines — don't forget to recycle them, or better yet pass them to a friend. Put on some relaxing music and stretch. Not only does avoiding TV and computers at night help you sleep better, taking a night off will be a nice change of pace if you're an electronic-media junkie.
UnPlug, a Firefox add-on, puts an adorable fish icon in your toolbar, and when you're on a page with an embedded video you want to keep, just click the fish and a download page will come up. The files save in flash, so if the files don't play initially, you can download the media player VLC to watch them. Now you are free to obsessively watch hilarious gigglesugar videos.
To learn how to post your favorite downloads to the Download of the Day group, read more
I love my Blackberry and my laptop, they make working so convenient. I check my e-mail during my morning commutes. I write on my subway ride home. I make phone calls walking to my house. I honestly don't have time to decompress before I walk through the front door to begin my life as a mom.
Did I write, "I don't have time?" I did, but it should really read, "I don't make the time to decompress." Cell phones have changed the way Americans live their lives after they leave the office. You can always be reached and you can always check your e-mail, or surf the web. It is difficult to chill out when it is so hard to stop working. Your work can just follow you home in your pocket.
Here's a thought - create some boundaries with your technology (I know I am trying to). Turn off the cell phone. Close the laptop. If you have a land line, take the phone off the hook. While you are at it, turn off the television too.
Now...light a candle and take a bath. Read a book. Catch up on all those back issues of the New Yorker that are piled up next to your bed. Go totally old fashioned and write a letter to your best friend living out of state. Put on some mellow music and stretch for half an hour. Just chill out. Don't be afraid if life feels too quiet at first. You will acclimate to the slower pace in 20 minutes, and hopefully you will relax.
I think of a night unplugged from my electronics like a mini vacation. Ahhhh....just thinking about it I can feel my heart rate slowing down.