Can you turn off your electronics for a day?
Published: May 19, 2011
Your adrenals will be glad you did!
I am amazed by the number of women I know who are constantly working—or feel that they should be. They are still hearing the echoes of Mom or Dad telling them, “You’re just not good enough,” and driving themselves mercilessly in an effort to prove their parents wrong.
For many of us, perfectionism, the need to control, or the feeling that we’ve never quite done enough are the sad legacy of parents who seemed frequently dissatisfied with us—even though our parents were themselves responding to their parents, doing the best they could with what they were given. Understand that our parents were “guilty, but not to blame,” as were their parents. The legacy goes on for generations—until we stop it.
Our culture, too, puts a lot of pressure on us to be constantly working. If you go to a party in the United States, the first thing most people will ask you is, “What do you do?” In Europe, where the culture is less work-obsessed, that’s actually considered an offensive question, as I once learned to my embarrassment.
A fellow guest at a party I once attended in Amsterdam actually took me aside and scolded me for asking another guest about his occupation. “Don’t you know that there is so much more to a person than just his job?” he asked me. “Why are you Americans so concerned with work all the time? You never get to know who the person is, just what they do.” While I think a person’s job can be an important part of his or her identity, I saw my host’s point. When you define yourself by your job, it’s hard to find the courage to stop working—even though most of us, in my professional opinion, are working far too hard!
Remember, the human body was never designed for constant unremitting stress. It was meant to exert itself, rise to the occasion, and then have a chance to relax. In “the old days,” when people lived by candlelight and depended upon their own biological clocks, we got up with the sun, worked hard, and then spent the evening preparing for sleep.
I’m not suggesting a return to those pre-electric times, but I do think a compromise is in order.
I was so amazed, whenever our family lost power for a night or two, at how much more fun we had together. We lit candles, played games, talked, and shared our lives in a way that just doesn’t happen now that we have computers, TVs, and telephones to occupy our every minute. I wouldn’t want to be without power for too long—but once in a while might not be so bad.
Consider an Electronic Sabbath
One way to ease your stress and nurture your adrenals—and perhaps also to reconnect with your partner and family—is to give yourself an electronic Sabbath: all or part of your weekend with no electronic media. If that seems too challenging, perhaps cut out the work-related media. Get separate e-mails for personal and work use, and check only your personal account.
I also know people who have instituted “Facebook Sabbaths,” when they avoid social networking for one evening a week or for the weekend, or “Browser Sabbaths,” when they avoid doing any kind of work online.
It’s so easy to get sucked into spending hours on the computer, one search leading to another or becoming involved in a round of instant messages that fail to offer the depth of true communication or intimacy but that somehow end up taking hours of your time. You can even enlist the help of a buddy who will change your passwords for you and not release them until an agreed-upon time, forcing you to cut back.
Marcelle Pick co-founded Women to Women in 1983 with a vision to change the way in which women’s healthcare is delivered. Marcelle undertakes a holistic approach that not only treats illness, but also helps women make choices in their lives to prevent disease.