A Life That Feels Good: Step One


Create a life that feels good on the inside not one that just looks good on the outside. – Unknown

Step One: Unplug

Ever since I started my Online Marketing studies last fall, I’ve been hyper-plugged into the internet and spend hours and hours online every day. On top of working on a computer most of the day at the office, I go home, walk the dog, eat dinner and then turn on my laptop and TV around 7:30 or 8pm (with my iphone resting right beside me, beeping periodically with notifications). I try to turn both off at 11pm but, more often than not, it’s midnight by the time I shut everything down. I usually plan on being online for maybe an hour or so and then I get sucked into Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and, of course, our wonderful WordPress. Before I know it, it’s 11pm and I haven’t even started my homework, so I do an hour of work online and then finally off to bed, with my eyes burning and brain racing.

Since I’ve started this routine, I’ve noticed my sleep has become, well, let’s say not restful at best and often I wake up exhausted. So, what do I do then? I make a ridiculously strong pot of coffee that gives me a quick, jarring boost of energy (with some jittery anxiety added in) and, boom, I’m stuck in a vicious, energy-draining cycle.

And, maybe even worse than my tired, bleery-eyed mornings, I’m worried that with all of my social media activity, I might eventually become one of those people who put more effort into their online image than their real, honest to goodness, life. You know, the ones who post constantly, usually about the fabulous places they’re going and amazing things they’re doing with hourly selfies to chronicle their adventures. Do we really even enjoy those amazing experiences if we’re almost compulsively concentrating on facebooking and tweeting and instagramming our every move?

I know it’s been scientifically proven that we all get a big hit of feel-good dopamine with all of those social media “likes” on our posts but we also get that hit of dopamine by connecting with the flesh and blood people we’re hanging out with too. But that only happens if we actually stop checking our smartphones and give ourselves a chance to connect with them (I’m really guilty of this bad behaviour too).

Anywayyy, I’ve decided it’s high time to take a step back and tackle this internet dependency of mine.

How will I do it, you ask? Like this:

  1. One hour of laptop time in the evening.  No matter how enticing Pinterest and Facebook are, one hour only. No excuses. I’ll remind myself that social media sites will continue to thrive without my constant input.
  2. Put my iPhone in a kitchen drawer. No social media/internet surfing allowed after 8pm. The phone will only be taken out of the drawer if someone calls and then put right back in again.
  3. For the moment, no TV. I binge watched three hours of the Kardashians last Sunday and then watched a new show about horrific plastic surgery mistakes and addicts (the people who just won’t quit no matter how big their lips/breasts/cheeks get) called Botched and, by the end of the evening, I think I felt my IQ drop a couple of points. No more reality TV for me. My goal is to keep the television unplugged for the summer and, in the fall, decide if I plug it back in or not.

And what will I fill all of my “unplugged” spare time with? Music, reading, daydreaming and much, much more, of this:

dog at beach

couple at beach


beach sunset

vancouver twilight

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

12 thoughts on “A Life That Feels Good: Step One

  1. Good for you, Laurel! I’m getting a wee bit better with my phone, but still have plenty of bad days. I honestly think that if I just quit Facebook, that would solve a lot of my issues, namely:
    1. No more grabbing my phone to check email but then spending 15 minutes looking at the latest happenings on Facebook (which happens whenever I check my phone)
    2. No more need to ‘check in’, often with an uploaded pic, to let my friends know what I’m up to.
    3. No inner struggle about whether a status update might sound braggy or not. To update or not to update, that is the question.

    Pinterest is something I hit maybe once/month and twitter is something I do in spurts. It’s Facebook that tends to be the time-sucker. If only I had the discipline to just use it to see what my friends are up to (it is a great way to stay in touch /see pics, etc.) without feeling the need to reciprocate with my one updates. Then again, I often unfriend people who never update in FB because I figure they are just using it to creep on others’ business. So maybe if I cut back, people would cut me off too. GAH! It’s enough to make your head spin.

    And it makes you wonder how we all survived without seeing all of Suzie’s vacation photos (several times per year), or knowing how Bob scored on his umpteenth online quiz. 🙂

    • When you wrote “if I just quit Facebook” I actually had a bit of an internal shudder. I can’t even imagine not being on Facebook! It’s become such an integral part of my life now, it’s kind of crazy. I have my personal page, my blog page and help manage a couple of business pages. Facebook is entrenched in my day. And I do love it for keeping in touch with my loved ones in Ontario and California. But, yes, posting is a definite struggle. Am I posting this to show off or to genuinely share something I think is really cool with my fb friends is the question I always have to ask myself before I post. Oh, and I’m not going to even talk about Pinterest. I’ve lost many hours of my life going down the rabbit hole on that sight. So, yeah, limiting myself an hour a day for social media time is a necessary rule for me to make sure I don’t live the rest of my life in front of a screen 🙂

      And, btw, I don’t know if I’ve told you this but I love your comments, Nancy! They always seem to enrich what I’ve wrote. Thank you

      • Thanks Laurel! What a kind and lovely thing to say!

        Looking at the comment below – I wanted to add that you might want to google the negative effects of Facebook (or similar terminology). I’ve read a number of studies that speak to how using social media, and specifically Facebook, can trigger or amplify depression and anxiety in people. I’m by no means an expert, but the essence of it, I think, is that people compare their ‘every day’ life to their friends’ ‘best’ life. i.e. Your friends (and you and me) typically don’t post about shitty stuff on FB, mostly we post stuff that is cool, fun, exciting, etc. So if your newsfeed is filled with all this awesomeness, representing your friends’ lives, there is a tendency to compare to the humdrum you might be experiencing at that moment. it’s pretty fascinating, to me. And it’s a big part of why I try to self-regulate my own uploads and status updates.

        Your question, “Am I posting this to show off or to genuinely share something I think is really cool” is a good one. I wish more people would ask themselves that.

        p.s. here is one article I quickly googled. Haven’t read thru it fully yet, but wanted to pass it along in case you have interest. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/09/the-real-reason-facebook-makes-us-unhappy.html

  2. Definitely an important message and experiment to share and practice. Even moreso when you read the more recent research about how all that over-tron time changes the brain and affects health, wellbeing, etc. That makes discerning tron-time and islands of unplugged time even more desirable! Thanks for the post.

    • Okay, now I have to read up on that 🙂 The only article I’ve read about this, which sparked the limited viewing time, was a really informative piece about how endless time spent in front of a glowing screen late at night really messes up our sleep patterns and our ability to reach a REM sleep. Since, I’m tired of being tired all of the time, that was enough for me. Will definitely read about the other effects on the brain. Thanks!

  3. hello laurel its dennis the vizsla dog hay enjoy yore unpluggd time!!! its intresting that masheens only reechardj wen they are pluggd in but it seems that peepul only reechardj wen they ar not!!! ok bye

  4. Definitely something to think about. I find my 5yr old asking me if I can please look at her and not my phone when I an replying to something she may have asked me. 😦 Going to definitely start implementing this unplugging thing into my life.

    We have WhatsApp (I think it’s international right?) and I had a friend PHONE me the other day saying: Check your whatsapp messages please!

    This was 1 minute after she sent the message, I hadn’t checked it. IT’s beyond ridiculous how people expect us to always be connected to our devices.

    • I agree! I found it really hard at first. I started by walking my dog without my phone and I would be thinking about checking it every few minutes or I’d see something I really wanted to take a picture of and freak out a little that I didn’t have my phone. But, like everything, it gets easier ad you go and you feel so much more present and connected in your life. So nice.

  5. Hey Laurel! Thanks for linking to my post. I just back from being in the Gallatin National Forest in Montana and had my phone off and internet at a minimum! It was the perfect place to unplug and after returning to the “real world” I almost just want to flush my phone down the toilet (of course, that won’t be happening)! I am 100% supporting your decision to unplug and recharge through nature and face to face encounters! I’ll be working on that with you!

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