Pursue What Matters
Episode 222: Self-Leadership and Learning to Unplug
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Are you constantly plugged in, either with work email screens or multitasking? Stop? Now I know it’s it’s easier said than done. But I promise you that learning to unplug, even in small ways will result in greater well being. And it doesn’t take that long.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:20
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast, where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So the plague of our time, is really being plugged in all the time, we always have a screen in front of us. We’re constantly distracted, we’re constantly multitasking. And yet, what we know is one of the foundations of greater well being on self leadership is learning to unplug. We have to be pretty diligent and intentional about this, because our world is designed to distract. And there’s really interesting brain science coming out. Now that confirms just how challenging these screens are for us, this belief that we can multitask, it’s not a thing, we all believe that we can do it, that we’re somehow the exception, it’s definitely not a thing. And so today, I really want to help make the case for why learning to unplug. And learning to do that consistently can really pay big dividends for you, both in your leadership and in your overall well being.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:49
Of course, we’re in the middle of a great series, I think it’s great, I hope it’s helpful for you, where we’re talking about building a secure foundation, and we’re using the acronym secure, to really talk about these non negotiables minimum requirements for coping well, these really help us to have a strong foundation of security, so that we can then grow and then we’ll be talking about Foundation. And those are some of the skills that really helped us to thrive. But with the secure activities, these are the minimum requirement for coping and well being. And so with the podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters by strengthening your confidence to lead in one of three areas. So leading with clarity, which is all about connecting you to purpose, leading with curiosity, which is what we’re focusing on today, with self leadership, and then leading and building a community. And so just as a reminder, when we think about the secure acronym, they are spirituality, exercise, creativity, unplugging, renewal and eating mindfully. And so if you haven’t caught spirituality, exercise, and creativity, those are in recent podcasts. So definitely tune back in and catch yourself up. And then today, we’re going to be talking about the value of unplugging. So most of us don’t, don’t need someone to make the case, right, like we want to unplug. But doing it is so hard. And so that can be a really pesky challenge to actually do what it takes to unplug even in small ways in our lives. But I promise you, it’s worth it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:35
So with this podcast, we are going to be focusing on how to unplug as part of self leadership. We’re going to talk about the benefits of unplugging. And then we’re gonna get very practical, right and talk about specific ways that you can begin unplugging consistently. So of course, we live in a completely connected world, which makes it really difficult to quiet ourselves and consider what what we believe what maybe you hold dear, and what you need and want to do on your path. So when it comes to unplugging, I am literally talking about unplugging from technology, including cell phones, tablets, laptops, email, social media work, and doing not in small consistent ways every day for greater well being. It’s a game changer. And yet it’s one of the most challenging things for most of us, like we feel like we have to be tied in Connect and connected all the time, or it just becomes a bad habit. And so we’re here to break that habit.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:40
So I have a quote from Arianna Huffington. She said whenever we look around the world, we see smart leaders in politics, in business in media, making terrible decisions. What they’re lacking is not IQ but wisdom. which is no surprise it has never been hard. to tap into our inner wisdom, because in order to do so, we have to disconnect from all our omnipresent devices, our gadgets, our screens, our social media, and reconnect with ourselves. And so I love what she has to say on this. And that’s really the invitation for each of us here. So some of the ways that we can start to, you know, wrap our wrap our heads around this is we want to think about ways that we can unplug from work related activities. So one thing that I do is I have a tight boundary on checking work email, so most of us have email on our phone. And I resist the urge to check email after hours. And that gives me a mental break from work. And it ensures that I’m responding when I’m in a better place rather than exhausted at the end of the day. Give yourself an opportunity to get excited about work by giving yourself a break at the end of the workweek, when we don’t ever have a break from work. Even if we’re not physically at work. That’s a recipe for burnout. And it makes it much more likely for us to lose motivation and excitement about our work. Don’t take work home with you, either literally or figuratively. Now, this is especially tricky for hybrid workers or remote workers. But think about ways that you can contain your work, you can coordinate off, so you have a break. Like I mentioned, don’t check work emails, don’t take work calls, after hours unless there is an emergency and communicate those boundaries clearly with your team limit reading about work and instead engage in activities that are completely disconnected from work. So I love reading, I love reading about work related material. But I also love reading for pleasure. And so that’s something that I’ve had to do is just put some boundaries on that so that at the end of the day, when I’m trying to relax with reading, I’m not reading material related to work that’s going to be really stimulating because it’s going to be hard for me to wind down. And I might be excited about it. But it’s not serving the purpose of helping me wind down at the end of the day. One of the best ways that we can unplug is by getting out in nature, wow, this is this makes such a difference. So being out in nature restores us makes us more empathetic, creative, creative, and more likely to engage with the world and one another. And so this is from Florence Williams, she’s the author of the nature fix why nature makes us happier, healthier, and more creative. She says we don’t experience natural environments, enough to realize how restored they can make us feel. Nor are we aware that studies also show they make us healthier, more creative, more empathetic, and more apt to engage with the world and with each other nature, it turns out is good for civilization.
Dr. Melissa Smith 7:56
And so from Eckhart Tolle, who is one of my favorites, he says everything natural, every flower tree, an animal has important lessons to teach us if we only stop, look, and listen. And so thinking about ways that you can get out of the office get out of buildings outside of those four walls, and the world of manmade structures get into the wild, it is restorative, it could be sitting in your backyard and watching a tree so you don’t have to be up. In some enclave, you don’t have to be up in the mountains. But just getting out of manmade structures getting in nature, it could be a walk in your neighborhood, it really makes a big difference. So again, from Florence Williams, she says go this is her advice. Go outside, often, sometimes in wild places, bring friends or not breathe. So she did all of this research and studying on the benefits of nature. And she said distilling what I learned I came up with the kind of ultra simple Kota and that’s this go outside, often, sometimes in wild places, bring friends or not breed. And so from her work, some of the essential take homes include, we all need nearby nature, so we benefit cognitively and psychologically from having trees, bodies of water and green spaces just to look at. We should be smarter about landscaping our schools, hospitals, workplaces in neighborhoods. So everyone gains we need quick incursions to natural areas that engage our senses. Everyone needs access to clean, quiet and safe natural refuges in a city. Short exposures to nature can make us less aggressive, more creative, more civic minded and healthier overall. And then she continues for warding off depression.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:49
Let’s go with the finish recommendation of five hours a month in nature minimum. But as the poet’s neuroscientists and river runners have shown us, we also times need longer, deeper immersions into wild spaces to recover from severe distress, to imagine our futures and to be our best civilized selves. So we need nearby nature every day. And then sometimes we need deeper getaways. So one of the things that I often do in the summer with my girlfriend is we go backpacking, and we’ll go for three or four days. And that’s kind of the deeper immersive experience where the only reason I would pull out my phone is to take a picture of something. There’s absolutely no cell phone coverage, which is one of my favorite things about backpacking. And it really is about being at one and nature. It’s it’s about what are the basics of survival? What are the basics for pleasure and enjoyment, and it’s lovely. So thinking about ways that you can connect to nature on a daily basis, and even in deeper ways, it might not be backpacking, that’s okay. But getting up into the mountains, getting out on a river, spending time at the ocean can really make a difference. One of the best ways to unplug is through play. So I want to share with you the characteristics of play. So it’s apparently purposeless, but it does have a purpose, we just, you know, you want it, you want it to be free ranging. Play is voluntary, it has inherent attraction, right? It’s so it’s something that we look forward to it, there’s freedom from time, so we don’t have the strict time constraints, you lose sense of time when playing, there’s a diminished consciousness of self. So we lose our filtering self. And we focus less on image management, or what others are thinking of us. And the fact that we are thinking at all we’re better able to live in the moment. And play is, it’s a very mindful activity, it’s very present focused. Another benefit is improvisational potential. So what does this mean? Play helps us to step out of rigid ways of doing things, you’re able, you’re more able to mix things up, serendipity can enter. And this can lead to new behaviors, insights, thoughts and responses. And so as humans, we have a drive for both predictability and novelty, and play is really good for helping us to connect to that need for novelty helps us to develop some cognitive flexibility. And then the last benefit of play that I want to talk about here is continuation desire.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:36
So when we play, we want to keep playing, it’s pleasurable. And so playing getting outside, getting away from strict time structures, can be so helpful in helping us to unplug. And from Stuart Brown, who has done a lot of work on the topic of plays got a great book on that topic, he said, the opposite of play is not work, it’s depression. And so a play is a central element of life, not only for children, but for all of us across the entire lifespan, in playing, our burdens feel lighter, and we are opened to new possibilities. And I just I love that. So a couple of concepts to keep in mind when it comes to play. And recognizing that this is an important way that we can unplug is that as humans, we’re hardwired for play, just like we’re hardwired for movement. And those two things go hand in hand. Play is strongly correlated with success. So our ability to play helps us to be more creative and successful in life. Play is also critical to the development of social skills, problem solving skills, IQ and EQ, which is emotional intelligence. And then the last point about play that I want to share today is that play is essential to well being and the survival of both humans and animals. If you if you see animal research, there’s a really great body of research on the role of play with animals. And so it’s for all of us in the animal kingdom. And so today, we talked about three key things. We talked about taking breaks from work, you need that break, to come back to work excited and ready to lead. So make sure you have some parameters and some boundaries, on your engagement with work so that it can continue to be enjoyable and not something that leads to burnout or that you lose passion for restoration, empathy, and creativity are all big benefits of unplugging. And we want you to think about the role of getting out in nature and playing that these can all be really important ways that we can unplug and, and really set ourselves up for flourishing.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:00
So, I hope that I hope that you have a little more investment in on plugging, and that you’ll consider one or two ways that you can do that. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, but making that a daily practice, so head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/222-learningtounplug Of course, I’d love to connect with you on social media Instagram @dr.melissasmith and I hope that you’ll consider giving the podcast a five star review on Apple or Spotify. I’d love to hear from you. I have lots of resources every day on Instagram. And in the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai