Today, there was a 7 hour storm. With the first crack of thunder, off went the internet. I was in the middle of writing a post and we also wanted to list some items on ebay. Even the cable tv channels went off. What to do? It was frustrating and I was a little annoyed as I am on a deadline to finish things before an important appointment.
I was tired and in pain from tight neck and back muscles. I soon saw that this storm was a gift, a chance for a much-needed time-out. I took the opportunity to catch up on a film I’d recorded but never seemed to find time to watch. It was totally absorbing and incredibly relaxing. (Hint: George Clooney was in it!)
I am writing this post because lately I feel really stressed, fatigued, and sometimes that my online life has taken over my real life. If you can make it to the end, there’s an important PSA from me. I wish there was some kind of reward there waiting for you, but please accept my undying gratitude instead!
Now don’t get me wrong, I love writing, I love connecting with like-minded people I would never otherwise ‘meet’ and especially enjoy learning about other cultures and countries. I love passing on information about health and nutrition and I especially love the kind comments when I’ve actually helped someone.
However, I now realise I need an E-break, for my own health’s sake. How about you?
We could all probably benefit from an occasional E-Break: a break from all our electronic devices, all the beeps, alerts, notifications, which constantly divert our attention from ourselves and those close to us, which often invade our precious moments of family time, contemplation and relaxation. How many of us text or use tablets/laptops in bed and then wonder why we’re not having good-quality sleep?
Even when we’re doing other things – working, reading, talking to friends, playing with our children, watching tv and even exercising – the draw of the text alert or call tone is often too strong to ignore.
For those of us who are on social media, how many hours go by while looking at and posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest? I am the worst for this! For those of us who blog too, well, forget the rest of the day! If we’re not typing, we’re reading and commenting or devising new recipes, taking photos or creating posts.
I haven’t even mentioned eBay!
It’s all very enjoyable, but physically and mentally it can wear you out, create stresses you’re hardly aware of and do untold damage to your bodies – think repetitive strain injuries, back, neck and shoulder pain, eye strain, digestive problems from poor posture and typing while eating.
(It’s very important to keep getting up, stretching and moving around -and don’t forget to breathe!).
This graphic shows the stress on your neck and spine when texting.
(Uncredited as I came across it on Twitter)
All this electronic communication can also interfere with our relationships. Children can feel we’re not giving them our full attention and will often start misbehaving to get it back or give up and withdraw. Time and again I see parents taking their children to school and they’re texting or calling while walking and the child is trying to say something. I often resent my husband’s phone constantly alerting him to texts or missed calls about bike repairs, generally in the evening during quiet-time conversations or reading.
It is practically impossible these days to ignore electronic communication, but if we try hard enough we can schedule breaks and return to the real world, invest our attention and energy in real communication and physical activity.
My daughter and her family have initiated No-Phone Sundays to gently guide their tweens and teen away from the pull of iPad, phone, iPod and games. Instead, they go for walks with their lab, cycling in the woods or swimming. If they stay at home, they cook and bake, sew or garden together, play table tennis, football or chess, or build log piles! My son cooks with his toddlers, they all go out on bikes or for walks as a family and he, his dad and older son go on more challenging bike rides. Phones are never acceptable during mealtimes or when spending time together as a family. We try to be completely present and focused.
No-phone days (or even specified hours) are excellent opportunities to observe, talk and listen to our children and partners with our full attention, and really hear what’s being hinted at, what you may not have noticed during a busy week of work and domestic tasks.
I normally find I am on constant alert, my body awash with adrenaline, always listening out in case I miss an important message from my family. But I do have social media notifications firmly switched off and always leave the phone downstairs at night. All our electronic devices are kept downstairs.
However, my sleep has been taken over by blogging ideas! Everything has become a foundation for a new post and I need to switch off and calm down for a while. It would also be remiss of me – given the theme of this blog – not to pass on this information and pay attention to my own advice!
I need to have some down time, to do some meditation and fully relax, to let go of all the tension and pain caused by sitting hunched over the iPad. I am an all or nothing person, I can’t do a little and leave it, or post it in any old fashion, it has to be the best I can do and I have to finish it.
So, from Tuesday next week I shall be taking a break.
As many of you will know, I have a long-term back injury and my body is begging me to get some treatment. I shall be having some intensive cranio-sacral osteopathy (the very gentle manipulative kind, not the bone-crunching kind!) and I need to rest, relax and recuperate and try to have some proper sleep. The only electrical equipment will be my stereo so that I can listen to relaxation and meditation cds and occasionally an audiobook.
I’m also going to do a one-day juice cleanse. I was lucky enough to win a Raw Island Juice Cleanse* recently in the Nanabar Crowdfunding Campaign Giveaway* and I am looking forward to doing that next week.
Please continue to visit – I’ve installed CCTV so I will know who calls and who doesn’t 😉 I’ve also scheduled some posts for while I’m away, but please forgive me for not responding to any comments straightaway – I don’t think the loud-hailer will work and the carrier-pigeons have got too fat from lack of employment, but I will acknowledge them as soon as I am back. I will miss you, but I need to do this.
Take care of yourselves – I may be out of sight but you will not be out of mind, I shall be asking questions when I return!
Copyright: Chris McGowan