The Importance of Unplugging
One of the most useful teachings I have ever heard on how to care for ourselves was at a leadership conference a number of years back. The speaker was an executive-level consultant for Olympic and professional athletes in Florida. His job was to make sure that every athlete that he trained was ready in mind and body, therefore he would put them through rigorous testing as well as tension-situations to see how they would react and to begin instilling habits of working peaceful under pressure.
His premise was simple. Our bodies are designed on the basis of ‘stress and rest’ concepts. Picture the EKG (Electrocardiogram) of a heart monitor that beeps up and down with cresting waves and troughs. Each of the spikes are points of stress and each of the valleys are points of rest. He went on to explain that all of our bodies follow this same principle. Our muscles operate on stress and rest (EMG – Electromyogram) as well, and so do so many other systems in the human body. His conclusions were simple but profound.
Stress isn’t what kills us. In fact, our bodies are designed for stress situations; it’s what they were built for. Similar to engines of muscle cars that were designed to rev at high RPM’s, our bodies can get up and go. It’s not the pushing that is ultimately damaging; it’s the lack of proper rest to go with it. Our bodies need rest to restore and repair. If we had too much stress without rest or too much rest without stress, it’s called a flat-line. We don’t want that.
In our lives today we have plenty of stress opportunities: getting the family to arrive on time; work deadlines; deteriorating health; relational challenges. What we need to focus on for balance is healthy rest. Sleep is only one way, albeit a very healthy and necessary way, to rest. Sleep must be paired with peace of mind and that is rather hard to come by these days.
Media isn’t restful. That sounds rather counterintuitive because the one thing I crave the most when I’m exhausted is either getting on my smart phone or turning on the TV. Yet, recently one of my young daughter’s friends had a concussion and the doctor said that she had to stay off all media for weeks. She could play board games, talk and interact, but media stresses the brain so much that it was off limits. So what should we do?
To truly unplug means to have peace of mind. How do we get that? For some it’s getting outside and letting the rhythms of nature slow us down. For others it’s laughing with friends over an inexpensive dinner. Sometimes it’s paired with stretching, running or working out. Whatever it is, it needs to be life-giving, restorative and restful. What is that for you?
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