Unplug and Reconnect

by Jane Jackson

If it’s December, it must be the season to double our weekly errands, our on-line gift ordering and the seasonal social events – all of which can increase both stress level and blood pressure! With all the extra activities going on this last month of the year, how are we supposed to slow down long enough to reflect on what or whom we’re supposed to be celebrating?

What if we start with unplugging and powering down? Can we choose to leave our phones in our purse or the glove box? I challenge you to take a moment this month to slow down, de-device yourself, relinquish the distractions of finger-tip data, and offer eye contact and interaction with those you love the most instead. Blessed are those who find themselves in remote places where there is no wi-fi , bluetooth isn’t necessary, and the only hotspot is in the fireplace (or the oven).

Start by taking just an hour or two to say adios to the Apple — sayonara to the Samsung — the awkwardness of this new foreign freedom will pass shortly, I promise! Screen time can be replaced with conversation about what is going on in the life of those loved ones around you — especially the ones you’ve not seen for twelve months. Offer to be the listener first. Choose to be a purposeful observer of what’s going on around you — soak it all in. On the way home, see if you can remember 3 things that others said during conversation.

Don’t be caught missing out on some good story because you’re reading a text or updating your status. Instead, take a walk with the family members that are willing to get up and move instead of plopping down in front of the TV after the big meal. Ask questions of those from a different generation than yours. What are their favorite (or least favorite) experiences and adventures of 2015? Find a deck of cards and see who remembers how to play hearts or go fish, or perhaps someone has a new game to teach you? Don’t succumb to the device if you look around and others are head down in their own e-world — PERSEVERE!

You can do this! The fact is, you will never regret time spent away from the phone, tablet or laptop, especially if you’ve elected to engage with others face to face instead. It may not be the most comfortable situation when families share space they’re not accustomed to, but focus on the positives you can look forward to about the visit before it takes place. Decide what your response will be if a certain challenging topic comes up. Ok, Ok, you can use your device to take the family pic commemorating the event before people start leaving, but wait until you’re in the car before sharing it on social media.

Really, time, eye contact, and listening are some of the most desired gifts we can give, and they don’t cost a cent. Be generous this season, and see what kind of response you get.

And finally, if charades or other team games need a little more umph, try using your device to engage the crowd with a round of Heads Up, where your phone is held to your forehead while others give you clues to what’s on the screen you can’t see. The clock is ticking, so try to guess as many as you can before the timer goes off.

Enjoy this season with those you care about and learn skills to use in every season!

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