Right about now, you’re probably face-deep in Christmas shopping, or like so many of us, you might not have even started your holiday shopping. Either way, you’re probably stressin’. Relax! You’ve still got four days before Santa arrives. But before you hit the mall or take to Newbury street, take a second to breathe – unplug, relax, close your eyes, if only for a few minutes.
What do I mean by that first one? Unplug. It’s an idea I know we’ve all heard of, but gets very little actual practice, in large part by no fault of our own. We are constantly surrounded and overstimulated with technology and are living in a world that makes it hard to function without our iPhones glued to our hands at all times. Really, when was the last time you shut off your phone “just because” or left it at home? Probably a while ago. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in work emails, Facebook, or our Twitter feeds that we miss what’s going on around us – real conversations, laughter, and scenery – all so much more real than poorly-filtered photos on our Instagram feeds. More than I’d like to admit, I find myself refreshing my newsfeed while I’m sitting on the metro, despite the fact that I don’t even have service. But I’m definitely not alone; just the other day, I hurried up the left side of the escalator with my headphones blasting – tuning out the world around me – past dimly lit, zombie-like faces glued to their iPhones. And that’s when it hit me. I felt like I was part of one of those UpWorthy videos that explicitly tell us how doomed we are if we don’t just look up. That was a wake up call, for sure.
So in these next four days of holiday mayhem – and well into the new year – I encourage you to be mindful of the time you spend with your head down and your nose in your phone. Next time you find your thumb apathetically scrolling through your newsfeed, click the off button, look up, and breathe in the world around you.
If you find unplugging difficult for you – as I certainly have – there are a few ways to make it a bit easier:
- Strike up a conversation with friends/family/loved ones about the idea of unplugging. Guaranteed you’ll all want to leave your phones aside after talking it through.
- Exercise. Whether its a run, a ride at the HB, or even a brisk walk with the fam post Christmas dinner, getting those endorphins flowing will make you feel alive.
- Create a “no phones” rule when you’re out to dinner or drinks with friends. You’ll be amazed by the added amount of laughs and good vibes you’ll get when you aren’t talking about your washed up high school classmates that pop up on your news feed. So, put your phones in the middle of the table, and the first one to touch her phone buys the first round of drinks!
- Don’t text/email/Facebook/Tweet while driving. Not only is it dangerous, but it seriously takes away from your “me” time in the morning or evening. Use that time wisely – think, plan, dream; do anything but live vicariously through your FB feed.
- Write someone a handwritten note instead of a text. When we write something in pen, it gives a sense of permanence and promotes us to really think things through. Not only that, but nowadays, anything handwritten is 10 million times more sincere than a quick text or email.
- Meet somebody new. Whether its the rider on the bike next to you at The HB, a stranger in the elevator, or the person sitting next to you on the T, strike up a convo! Say hi, give them a compliment, or simply wish them a Merry Christmas. ‘Tis the season, isn’t it?
- People watch. I know, I know, it sounds creepy, but seriously, taking in the presence of others gives us the sense that we’re actually living, breathing humans surrounded by other living, breathing humans. It develops our sense of empathy and understanding, and broadens our horizons to the kinds of situations that actually exist. One of my favorite places to “people watch” is at the airport. So if you’re traveling this holiday, look up and witness the joy, love, and even heartache that comes with people coming and going. Yep, just like in Love Actually.
Unplugging and being present, if even just for a few minutes, has the ability to make you feel a little more human and a little less zombie-like. So while you’re waiting in long lines, traveling, or sitting in traffic, breathe in your surroundings. They might just be a little bit cooler than what your ten million Facebook friends are doing 😉
Alright, HBer’s, good luck with your holiday shopping! We’ll see you in the saddle – sans iPhone!