When you read this, we will all be back from our holiday vacations and settled into our “normal” work routines. However, the Christmas break was a great reminder of the importance of completely disconnecting to recharge your batteries.
It’s easy to take time away from the office these days because you can still be responsive via email, phone, social media — that’s the beauty and power of smart phones. They are wonderful, but they also don’t allow you to easily disconnect.
A few days before the office was to close for the holiday, my husband asked: “Are you really going to shut down?” I didn’t give much thought to it at the time, but he later asked if I was going to turn off all the notifications on my devices. I both cringed and reveled in the thought of turning my devices off and leaving them on the nightstand for a few days. FYI, I’m a fight or flight person so my mind never really shuts off.
However, at the encouragement of my husband and the management team, I did.
On the first day, I felt like I was missing something. My mind was still focused on unanswered emails, missed calls and social media posts that needed to be kept up, tracked and checked. On the second day, I was more in the moment, but my mind would still wonder to the list of things piling up for me to tackle when I returned to the office. It wasn’t until the third day that I was able to mentally free my mind and really be in the moment, celebrating the holiday with my husband, family and friends. I wasn’t even tempted to sneak a peek at my phone during short drives or while waiting on others. Days four and five were more of the same.
While my mind came back around to work while doing chores, I wasn’t stressed by the little things cluttering up my to-do list. Instead, my mind was free to think about new projects that we might want to try, goal setting and connecting dots between issues that aren’t readily apparent.
The break was much needed — more than I even knew. But what I learned is what it really means to disconnect. It’s giving yourself a mental break from all the to-dos, be it at the office, back at our farm or in the house. It’s a freeing of your mind to wonder, to think and to be in the moment.
Now I realize we can’t just take 7-day breaks whenever we want or feel the need, so I’m working to incorporate dedicated times into my week where I give myself mental freedom, even if it’s just for two hours one evening or early one Saturday morning. I might still be working (mucking horse stalls, cleaning the barn, ironing jeans) but I’m not connected to the constant dinging or ringing reminding me something needs my attention.
I didn’t set out to make mental health and peace of mind my New Year’s resolution, but strategically disconnecting is working for me and it’s completely worth pursuing. What are you doing? Message me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear how you disconnect or find peace of mind and allow yourself to focus on the big picture.