How to Fall Off The Grid
After taking 6 weeks to travel, unwind, reconnect, and decompress following the hubby’s busiest tax season yet… I’m back. Did you miss me? I’m hoping so.
I don’t know about you guys, but when I burn out, I. BURN. OUT. And once April 18th finally came around this year, I hit a big brick wall. I lacked motivation, enthusiasm, and the will to live. Ok, maybe not the last part, but my normal extroverted self and my non stop energy were nowhere to be found. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), I’ve been down this road before and know just the cure – I have to fall off the grid.
Falling off the grid can mean a myriad of different things, but for me it is a holistic approach to give myself more time for ME. Unplugging from social media, putting my phone down for hours at a time without checking it, becoming reclusive from friends, avoiding making plans, and travelling. Lots of travelling. That’s how I define falling off the grid.
Let’s start with social media. The amazingly wonderful yet potentially detrimental thing that has taken over our world by storm. You have no idea how beneficial getting off social media for a little while can be to your mental state until you try it. I often times get sucked into the “so-and-so has a perfect life because their Instagram photos are out of this world – I mean just look at the life they’re living”. I then question my life, and how imperfect it seems. This is SO not healthy. The good news? I can now recognize myself doing it. The better news? My imperfect life is pretty damn awesome, and a quick scroll through my own Instagram feed can remind me of that. By checking social media less and actually living my life without comparing it to every single person I’ve ever met’s lives, I’ve been able to appreciate so much around me.
Social media and cellphones are the technology version of conjoined twins. They go hand in hand, and you’ll realize that the necessity of having your phone glued to you actually diminishes when you aren’t paying that much attention to social media. I don’t recommend this for people whose phones are their lifeline to their children, work, etc. However, I will wholeheartedly encourage anyone who’s situations allow for it, to leave their phone in their purse or pocket more frequently. Try going out to dinner and not using your phone. You’d be shocked at the dinner conversations my hubby and I can have when we unplug.
Recoiling from technology is significantly easier than recoiling from people. It’s in my nature to be there for everyone who needs me, no matter the time of day or what is going on in my own life. But every now and then, I gotta just put myself first. Now, how do I make this make sense to everyone in my life? I don’t, really. I just do it and trust that their love and support will help them understand that me and my marriage need a little TLC. They’ll have to trust that I’ll bounce back. I always do. I’m sure my endless excuses for why I can’t hang out or why I replied to their text days later are at times pathetic but I think they get it. We all are human and need a break sometimes. One of the things that I’m most guilty of is spreading myself too thin. I forget about the fact that I have it within my control to go a whole weekend without making plans and going out. So when I hit the wall and I’m in self-repair mode, it’s not unusual that Sunday rolls around and I haven’t gotten out of my pajamas since Friday. And that feeling is liberating.
The funnest part of falling off the grid? Going somewhere off the grid! I’m a travel junkie. Wanderlust runs in my veins and I’m constantly planning trips and researching destinations every chance I get. My personal grid is within the Chicagoland area, so as soon as I’m outside those boundaries, I feel like a new person. I get a rush from being somewhere new, somewhere that my eyes have never seen before. I’ve been blessed with an uncanny Google ability and have been able to research and find some of the most beautiful places to travel (Shoutout to the otherworldly destinations of Saba, Antigua, Bright’s Creek, Willemstad, Munising, Page, Paria, and so many more). This year’s post-tax season trip was a 10 day hiking adventure in Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and Utah. During those 10 days, I hiked 60+ miles of mountain terrain, saw amazing red rocks, traversed the indescribable Coyote Buttes, explored slot canyons, got to know some Navajo people and gained an appreciation for their culture and music, and experienced pure bliss in the desert Southwest. I came back with a small case of the “back to reality” blues and an even bigger case of the “where to next” mindset.
When you hit a wall, how do you handle it? Do you keep burning yourself out until you resent every little thing in your life? And yes, this is possible – been there, done that. Do you cut everyone off? Do you unplug? If you’re like me, it’s taken years to discover what works the best. My “off the grid” self cleanse has been in the making for at least 5 years, and I still continue to make adjustments as needed. I’d love hearing how you’ve been managing the all too common burn out.