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Don’t Be a Digital Slave, Take an Unplugged Sabbatical

Practice Pain Relievers

The benefits of becoming “unplugged”

In this installment of the “Practice Pain Relievers” series, Dr. Neil Baum discusses the importance of “unplugging” from the internet, and how doing so just one day a week can make doctors feel like they have more time.

Video transcript

As physicians we spend an inordinate amount of time on computers and watching screens on EMR, iPads and cell phones. I am guilty of starting every day looking at emails upon awakening and again checking my inbox after arrival in the office. I have become, as most of my colleagues, aware that I am tethered to the internet and iPhone for seven days a week and even when I’m on vacation. It became apparent to me that I have become a slave of social media, email, texting and apps.

Let me offer a solution to this enslavement: it’s called getting unplugged and having an “electronic sabbatical” when you are totally unplugged from the internet, mobile phone, computer, iPad and other online devices for just one day a week. Here are my tips for unplugging.

Prepare to be “unplugged”

Begin by preparing for an unplugged day. Think of a solution to move internet or computer tasks or projects to a different day. Answer your most important emails before the unplugged day starts. Set up an automatic email responder saying that you will not be answering emails until the next business day.

If you have a blog, send out blog posts about your unplugged day several days in advance. If you have a Facebook account, don’t respond to others’ posts. Your friends will still like you the next day, I assure you. Don’t post on Instagram or Snapchat. Your photo can wait to go viral a day later.

Time will slow down, and who doesn’t want that?

Let’s look at the benefits of becoming unplugged. After an unplugged day of freedom from the digital world, you will also notice dramatic changes within yourself. You will think differently, you will act differently, and you will see things from a new perspective.

Time will slow down, you will have more attention to what is in front of you, and you’ll be more receptive to whatever comes your way. It feels like time is in abundance.

You’ll create room for ideas and insights. You’ll gain real inspiration from life and circumstances that is different from online inspiration. You may find this is the best time for stimulating your creative juices.

There are many more benefits you will discover for yourself, and you will feel the positive effects long after the unplugged day has ended.

Remember what the good book says: “Thou shalt work hard for six days a week and rest on the seventh day.” I think that commandment in the 21st century means getting unplugged!

Have a healthy, happy practice

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