Living LifeWise: How I Unplugged for National Day of Unplugging

Living Lifewise Sunday, March 9, 2014 Written by

Living LifeWise is a regular column provided by LifeWise Ambassadors – LifeWise employees whose healthy choices are helping them live better lives. Today’s column is provided by LifeWise Ambassador Aaron Reid.

As a general rule, I try to avoid social movements characterized by people taking selfies while holding up hand-written signs, but I just can’t say no to National Day of Unplugging. Taking a break from the electronic distractions of daily life is a great way to reconnect with yourself and with the people around you. This past weekend offered the perfect excuse to cease my tech habits for a full twenty-four hours.

For me, unplugging means turning off the TV, shutting off the computer, and most importantly, walking away from my smartphone. When I purchased my first smartphone a couple of years ago, I was blown away by all of the things it could do. I really felt like it was going to improve my life, but my actual experience has been quite the opposite.
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I use my phone all the time, but it’s mostly out of habit, or what you might even call dependence.  Whether in the hallway, in the bathroom, or at the dinner table, I am frequently pulling out my phone in response to phantom vibrations (Was it a text? An email? An update to my Slightly Disconcerted Birds app?), or to seek “important information,” like what grade school acquaintances are posting on Facebook. I used to think my smartphone had the power to unlock my human potential, but in those moments when I’m staring at my phone, dull and slack jawed, cycling through the same three websites over and over, it’s questionable whether I’m still human at all.

Here are some highlights of my day of unplugging:

9 a.m. – Right after I wake up, I hear my phone vibrate with an incoming text message. I worry that I’ll go nuts as I spend the day wondering who the text was from. In reality, I stop caring about it three seconds later.

9:10 a.m.  – My wife surprises me with the news that the whole family is going to unplug to support me. This is great news. I worry about the amount of time my children spend in front of the TV, on Mommy’s tablet and on Daddy’s smartphone. This also means that I don’t need to hide in the bedroom all day to avoid the television.

2:45 p.m. – I bring the car to an auto shop for a much needed oil change. In the waiting area with no phone to occupy my hands, I flip through a National Geographic.  Did you know that an elephant goes through six sets of teeth in its lifetime?

4:30 p.m.  – My son approaches me and says, “Can we play Angry Birds Space?” I tell him we can’t because it’s a “No TV Day.” He accepts that without question, making me wonder why I don’t parent more assertively every day. I am beginning to see many more “No TV Days” in our future.

5:00 p.m.  – I’d be lying if I said the day was all rainbows and sunshine. My smooth day of unplugging brings a moment of sadness as I note the time and think about the NASCAR race that is about to start that I don’t get to watch. I consider going out for a drive but it just wouldn’t be the same.

6:30 p.m.  – Two good friends arrive for dinner and stay until 11 p.m. It’s a great reminder that being unplugged doesn’t mean being disconnected from people. I am glad that neither of them suggests watching a movie, as I would have had to kick them out of my house.

11:10 p.m.  – Saturday only comes around once a week and I’m not willing to let it end yet. After my wife goes to sleep, I pull out one of my favorite board games and play alone. It is not as boring (or sad) as it sounds, and is a fitting end to a pretty darn good day of unplugging.

How do you take a tech timeout and unplug from it all? Share your ideas by leaving a comment below.

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Aaron_ReidAaron Reid is a lifelong non-athlete, husband, and father of two. Aaron lives in Tukwila near a nice running trail with rabbits, most of whom have never seen him. He began running in 2012 and ran his first 5K that same year. However, his most impressive fitness accomplishment is that he has been sucking in his stomach from the age of 12 to the age of 38. Living LifeWise is a part of Aaron’s quest to one day enjoy running and have washboard abs. Meet Aaron and hear more about what Living LifeWise means to him on the LifeWise Health Plan of Washington YouTube channel.