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Why You Need to Shut Everything Off

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*Bhzzzzz bhzzzz*, the lovely, irritating, and all-too-familiar sound of a notification on your phone. What’s the first thing you do when you hear this sound? It doesn’t matter if you’re out to dinner, on a phone call, or in an important meeting. Without thinking, you look down at your phone.

This constant need, some would say addiction, to being fully-connected all the time is an epidemic in our culture. A lot of people have written about this, and how it’s affecting our lives. Whether it’s mindless Facebook scrolling, Netflix binging, First-Person shooter playing, or anything else in that realm, we’ve got a lot of outlets for our attention. 

I won’t bore you with statistics you’ve heard on this topic. That’s not my aim.

My goal in these next few words is to challenge you to do one thing:

TURN IT ALL OFF.

Not forever. Not for a whole day. Not even for 5-10 hours. Turn it off for a few hours every day.

Okay, we may need to back track a bit.

Why should you turn it all off? In effort to keep this simple, answer out-loud “yes” or “no” if any of these statements apply to you:

  • I feel like I can’t turn my brain off. I have so much on my mind!

  • Scrolling through Facebook is automatic for me, like I can’t control myself.

  • Video games allow me to escape from reality.

  • There’s something draining about always being available via my phone and social media.

  • “This is Us” is such an incredible show, I’ve gotta see what happens next!

Some of these may or may not relate to you, but I’m sure substituting words and titles will change that.

If you answered “yes” to any of these statements, you’ve got a problem. Since your mind is so drawn to the sexy, shiny idea of being busy all the time, your brain is craving constant connectivity and brain stimulation. That’s why the little red notification circle on Facebook excites you beyond understanding. You’re addicted, and it’s hurting you.

Now we return to my challenge.

Turn it all off. This doesn’t seem hard, but you likely won’t do it. 

Before you write this idea off as unnecessary or stupid, hear me out.

Your brain needs rest, just like the rest of your body. By turning everything off, you’re providing the neurons in your brain the ability to chill out. When your neurons chills out, you chill out. And trust me, you need to chill out. Staying stimulated 24/7 is incredibly damaging to your body and psyche. You need to rest.

Let’s get to the challenge:

I’m going to challenge you to schedule black-out periods throughout your day, every day. Black-outs are when you turn off your phone, computer, game system, music, or anything else. It may last an hour for you, or 5. It all depends on how you want to do this.

For me, I try to do a black-out twice a day. One hour following lunch (I read and write to let me brain relax) and one-two hours in the evenings. Black-outs give me back parts of my life that I’m missing or ignoring, such as:

  • My health

  • Communication with my wife

  • Family time

  • Book reading

  • Journaling

  • Thinking

  • Relaxation

and those are just naming a few.

So now comes the potential turning point for you: will you shut off everything once or twice a day? Distance yourself from stimulation, busyness and distraction? 

From my experience of shutting everything off and creating black-out periods throughout my day, my mind is becoming clearer and sharper. I’m getting better sleep, and relaxing more. My energy levels are high, relationships are stronger, and self-awareness is sharper.

Will you shut off everything? The ball is in your court.