Recently I read an amazing article. It calls for ten simple steps one can do to take care of themselves better. My friend Siw sent it to me saying that it sounded like a “female Randy” wrote it. And I have to say, it does sound much like the discoveries I have made over the past months.
I especially like how the author frames this as radical self care, as just that concept is radical. So often we are challenged when we need to take a break to relax, rest, or even mend. And when we say “no, I can’t do _________,” people often feel rejected and fume about the person who said no: “Too busy to help me….” boils forth with incredulousness. I say this because, though it brings me no joy, I too am guilty of this. It seems that at some point that horrible fast food place adage of “if you’ve got time to lean, then you’ve got time to clean” has overtaken just about every aspect of our our lives. We have to remain busy at all times or else we are doing something wrong. And people wonder why we often feel the world is so toxic…..
She also points out that each of these ten acts are simple. And they are. Well, simple if you agree to three things: that you love yourself, that you are worthwhile, and deserve to feel good. If you treat these ideas as possibilities rather than facts, it may seem more difficult to climb Mt Everest on your hands — again, I speak from experience here.
I have adopted all of these into my life but one: the digital celibacy part. And at first I was not sold on the need for this. ‘Why would I want to give up my connection to the world for any extended period of time? After all, connection builds community and isn’t that also needed?’
Then I remembered the last day I forgot my phone at home, and how twitchy I got not being able to check in on things, that while possibly important, had no direct impact on me, nor would I have had absolutely any direct impact on them. And I also noted how the world did not seem to stop in the slightest because I did not have my phone, and anything I did not get to immediately waited peacefully for me. This, while I was bouncing with agitation. Hmmm…. maybe…. I do see a problem.
I also recalled back to those days, not so long ago, when I was the last person I knew who did not even have a simple cell phone. And how blissful it was to be able to escape messages when I needed/wanted to. Oh wait, that sounds quite a bit like self-care right there….
Add to that the blissful feeling I have when I leave a meditation course and the ten+ days of digital abstinence and well, lets just say it is easy to start seeing the value.
So… I opted to try and do a wifi free day each week. I should say TRY, as I was sort of sure it would prove too difficult. But in fact this past monday was my 5th week of this new habit. I was pretty sure I was unready and not even sure I was actually willing to pull this off — the digital hook is lodged deep into my skin afterall… And in fact the first Monday was not a complete wifi free day, as had two prior skype sessions scheduled.
But for the rest of the time, my Mondays have been absent all my digital tethers I have learned to lean on so heavily: the emails, the facebooks, the twitters, the blips, etc etc. And I would be lying if I said this was easy.
But then, that is why I think it is important. Lying fallow from the internets helps me recharge. In disconnecting, I am able to better reconnect with myself. And hopefully with those I love and care about as well.
I opted to call this wifi free monday, as I seem to react better to things with titles, with definition rather than just some rough idea. I can not commit to a pure digital free day, as I still need to write, but I will only do so with the wifi turned off. And only for the two or so hours I have scheduled each day to work. If the urge strikes me at other times, I will take pen to paper — perhaps i’ll even revert to quill and ink…….
I had even considered to give in to my kindle love — I named my kindle Mr. Rosewater, as in God Bless You… after all — and allow it as well, but I still have physical books that need reading. So other than those few morning hours I write, digital freedom here I come!
I’m only gone monday’s, which just means I should have far more time to catch up during the rest of the week (only it has not really progressed like that… yet), I still have some 200 email messages in my inbox I really should reply to and chat/skype sessions I should schedule/make, but alas, it is not like I was able to bang those out even with being online seven days a week.
There is a sense of both sadness and relief about this. But the relief wins out, just like putting ice on a sunburn, the self-care is evident. The self-care is important. Far more important than responding to the email that has been sitting in my inbox for a bit too long. Far more important than following the latest foibles and follies of the ruling class on the twitters. Far more important than refreshing my inbox waiting for a message that won’t come till after I am asleep (stupid time zones!). Far more important than trying to be funny/enlightening/self righteous/etc etc on the facebooks. Because at the end of the day, if I do not take care of myself and treat me right, how can I be sure I can treat others right and care for their needs? Thus, my Monday digital abstinence exists.
Could you do this? Would you even want to?