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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Saturday: The 12 Hour Unplug Challenge

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: May 6th 2010

unplugThis isn't the first time I've talked about the effects of the growing ways of connection that we have developed only recently in our history. We can talk on the phone, connect via text, email or twitter, or jump on Facebook and have access to more personal information than ever before. We have all this information and connection wherever we are with our Blackberries, IPhones, Droids, and what-have-you. The options to connect isn't the issue, it's more that it has outpaced our maturity in using them.

Many of us wake up in the morning, roll over and immediately check our phones. It's a habit. Is it the best way to start a stress-reduced day, probably not.

So, here we are. I'm calling for a 12 hour challenge this Saturday to give yourself a mini-retreat and unplug your phones (or turning them off will do). No access to email, text, Facebook, Twitter, etc...

This is only for 12 hours and is an experiment just to see what comes up, how the day goes.

What you may expect:

At times during the day you might experience similar symptoms to withdrawal from an addictive behavior: In other words cravings and urges.

Cravings can be defined as wanting or desires in the mind such as, "I gotta check my phone." Urges are more like physical impulses that come in the form of tension in the body, mouth watering, or sudden jolts in a certain direction (e.g., like grabbing for the phone).

Or perhaps you'll notice feelings of anxiousness or boredom, also associated with withdrawal. As these arise, just be aware of them, almost like you're practicing see how the auto-pilot reactivity of ‘you' works. With this awareness you can exert a bit more control in the future, but first we have to cultivate this awareness.

You might also notice that you actually have much more time. What can you do with this time? The whole world opens up all of a sudden for you to go on a walk, reflect on your life, spend time with a friend or family member, be with your pets, read a book. All of these are activities that can be considered anti-anxiety and anti-depressants.

If for nothing else, give yourself the opportunity to take off the shackles for 12 hours to see how life is. And yes, if need be, you can start this 12 hours after checking your phone in the morning.

Are you up for the 12 hour challenge this Saturday?

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Unplug once a year - Rajesh yedida - May 7th 2010

It is very interesting to know how much we are used to our communication gadgets. I do this often for days together. That helps me a lot to focus on things that are more important in life. Last December I went to a meditation camp where you have to be silent for nine days and you should not have any type of communication. You just follow the instructions given by the teacher and meditate. However you can talk to the teacher at an appointed time to get ur doubts clarified. It is a great experience. 

 It helped me to see into myself and understand the real priorities of life.


There will be a follow up :) - Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. - May 6th 2010

Great idea Christine, I will absolutely do a personal follow up. 

I'm in! - Christine Brooks - May 6th 2010

Thanks, Elisha. As always in the years I have followed your sage advice, your words come to me at a most opportune time!  Thanks for the reminder to unplug!  Will you write a follow-up column about your own enplugged 12 hours?

Great Idea! - Cathy - May 6th 2010

This is a great idea as it will show people the reality of using the electronics to totally avoid life.  So much time passes and individuals have nothing to show for that time which I believe leads to depression, feeling of emptiness, feeling that you aren't really accomplishing anything as in nothing to be really proud of.  My husband used, and I say used because I put the brakes on the stuff that he used and monitor my son.  People need something to be proud of - a sense of accomplishment which for most just isn't there anymore.  We didn't have television until I was 5 years old and my husband had it from birth and he and his mother basically planted themselves there and now, he has no skills, no way of entertaining himself, and is left with a strong and desperate need to find ways to zone out since I had the cable shut off and keep the TV unplugged.  My son though is monitored and required to do physically active (wii does not count in our house) endeavors and crafts, things which challenge the mind.  In our mid-50's as I look at people my age, I see aging is so different - so many quit growing and when you do that, you age much faster.  You know, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.  I saw another article that was discussing getting outside for a few minutes every day which is also a winner - yes, outside where the sun shines - most people today look like vampires unless they go to a tanning salon.  I am betting that most people that try this won't make it for 12 hours.

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