I’m a big music fan. I tend to land in the classic rock era a lot. Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and The Doors to name a few. Love the blues and will even land in some jazz and classical music from time to time. Most notably, I enjoy a good John Williams movie score. My high school and college years took place through the entire 90s. Please don’t do the math and yes college took me a little bit to settle into and get serious. I have a love for the 90s alternative rock scene. Especially the Seattle rock/grunge scene. I’ve seen Pearl Jam a number of times. Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone, and Soundgarden are my favorites. I couldn’t and still can’t get enough of these groups. One of the coolest things is when some of these bands played on MTV Unplugged.
All of these bands can rock, and by rock I mean fast and loud with a side of screaming at times. Tap your foot and get out your air guitar or air drums and rock and roll right along with them. As fast and loud as these bands could play, the MTV Unplugged series was amazing. Honestly some of my favorite live performances from these bands.
Getting to hear them stripped down and acoustic was and still is an awesome experience. They took these same songs we rock out to and stripped them down to an acoustic level and a whole new lot of gems were produced. We enjoy our music as it is. I enjoy the distorted guitar and the cymbal smashing, but to hear them stripped down. Almost hearing them take a breath, is refreshing. Chill is good too. We need to do the same from time to time. We go a million miles an hour, while being hit from all sides with stimulation, and sometimes we need a break. Sometimes we need to do an unplugged version of our lives. Slow down and refresh.
This idea of unplugging is a large idea that can encompass many areas. I’ll hit on some as they play a role in my life and I also need to put some focus back onto my own unplugged experience.
What does unplugging look like? Less time on social media? Taking a walk everyday? Taking a vacation? Taking a few days off work to get stuff done around the house? Yes, these are good ideas. There are many more as the word “unplug” is extremely vague.
When I was in the hospital, one of the hardest things to do was cough up my cell phone. I was not allowed to have any contact with it throughout the entire stay. If I needed to make a phone call, I had to use the phone on the wall and actually try and recall the number of the person I wanted to call.
I am guilty of having my phone on me at all times. Usually it is not just on me, I’m also in it looking at it constantly. To the point I can check the same thing 5 times in a couple of minutes. I also cruise Facebook a too much. So the idea of not being able to look at my phone every 2 seconds was tough.
Another aspect, is I know I use my phone as a way to hide. Messing around on it can make me look busy and I can then hide from interacting with people. The phone is a crutch. My social anxiety likes to smack me in the face when I’m around a big group. If I don’t hide in the phone and I have to be in conversation, I have a bad habit of nervously peeking at my phone periodically throughout the conversation. It is a nervous habit. I know it is incredibly rude, but it has gotten to a point where it is a habit and I don’t even really think about doing it.
Technology, for me fuels some of the bad habits and methods I have for dealing with my mental health. It is always there and I can easily dive into it and get way to caught up. When I use it as a means to deal with some of my anxieties, the phone, or other technologies, are now part of the problem. I use it to avoid versus actually tackling the problem.
So, back to the hospital. I had to cough my phone up. The idea of not having my phone actually was part of why I didn’t want to accept being admitted. Through everything I had been through, my phone was a hinderance for me getting help. Crazy! I am so attached to this piece of technology I was not going to help myself, and maybe keep traveling down the same destructive path, because I didn’t want to cough up my cell phone.
Do you know what one of the best aspects about me deciding to seek help as an inpatient on a mental health unit was? Coughing up my cellphone. It wasn’t easy, but it was awesome…exhilarating…freeing!
I was forced to pay attention to what was right there in front of me. I had to socialize with people if I wanted to play social media while I was there. I stayed in the hospital for 5 days and by the end of those 5 days, I was almost fearful of getting my phone back. I enjoyed the feeling of not having it. It took a while to get used to not having it, but over a few days those feelings diminished.
I was at the point where I didn’t want my cellphone back. Of course I needed it back as it was my only form of communication as far as phone calls and work goes, but it was just so nice to have pried it from my own grip and learned to enjoy not having it.
I got out of the hospital and was good for a couple of days. I looked at the phone, but not like I used to. It lasted a couple of days and then I was right back where I was. One thing was different, I was more mindful of my usage now. I had the experience of doing the opposite, in my back pocket now. It made me think about it more and made me cognizant of my usage.
Lately, I have been working on putting my phone down. Especially at night. Due to my experience and my memory of not having my phone in the hospital, I now know how good and freeing it is to unplug from it. I try and leave it in my office when I go downstairs to play with the dog or hang out with my wife. It makes me feel so good.
I get so caught up in reading what everyone posts and also get caught up in all the madness that swirls around social media to where, even the short breaks, feel good. I get too caught up in it, and I know getting caught up in it, is not good for my mental health. I am guilty of being way to plugged in. I have to unplug more.
I use the phone example as many of us are in the same boat. It really is just to easy of a boat to get into. There are also other ways we can unplug that have the same freeing and exhilarating feeling as putting our phones down.
My wife and I like to travel. During the pandemic we haven’t been traveling, but we also like to camp. Normally, we would have been to a beach by now, but things are different. At least, we have decided to do things different right now, but thankfully we have our love of camping. Camping provides a get away and it is a form of unplugging for me. I get away from the hustle and bustle of life for a while and being outside is refreshing.
I find I relax a lot easier when I’m sitting around a campfire visiting with others. There also isn’t the normal everyday pressures coming at you either. It is one time in life where you can actually get away with sitting and doing nothing. Also, there isn’t always cell signal, so that is an added bonus. You get to relax and also take a break from technology.
These are a couple of things I like to do to unplug. What do you like to do? There are so many possibilities for unplugging. Sometimes we have to push ourselves to actually do it. It can be hard stepping away from life and the habits we are used to doing. Our mental health deserves the break from time to time.
The chores can wait. Your job can wait. The running around from here to there can wait. All of this has to and can wait. We need to be allowed to unplug and recharge. Otherwise, if we don’t allow the unplugging to happen, the normal part of life will suffer. We get burnt out. I know when I have been burnt out, I do not perform at life as well as I should.
Burn out happens. We’ve all felt it. If burn out happens, then the opposite needs to be allowed to happen as well. We cannot just go-go-go all of the time. We may try, but the go-go-go lifestyle will take a toll on us. I find my anxiety goes way up. With burn out, my propensity for depression goes up too. The more we constantly go, the more our threshold for keeping mental illness away goes down, allowing it to creep back into our lives.
We need to unplug every now and again. We need to put our phones down, shut our computers off, take a vacation or whatever it is you like to do to unwind. Take a walk even. We have to make time for these things. We have to make time for ourselves. We have the rest of our lives to run around all crazy like, we need to take time for ourselves and unplug and truly feel exhilarated…excited…and at peace.
I went heavy on the cell phone thing, but it was a huge thing for me to feel good after I was away from it. It was a feeling I needed and I need again. Even just stepping away from it for an hour, I feel so much better.
Please take the time to unplug from it all every now and again. Our minds need the break. We are inundated with so much in our lives that we need to take some time for ourselves. Really, it’s about taking our lives back. Not letting the constant stimulation of life take control of us and just ride along. Get back in the drivers seat and take some time for yourself. Heck, you may even rediscover a part of yourself you feel you lost at some point.
Get out there. Unplug. Do what you need to do. We got this!
Let’s keep walking this journey together.
Have a great day!
Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started:
Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health
This group is meant to focus on an “everybody in” type of focus. I share my music and also this blog there amongst other things. The music I share is instrumental (I am not a singer). I try and attach a positive message to each tune. I also encourage others to share their hobbies or anything that they like to do that makes them happy. Or share anything that is working for them. A place where we can get away from things for a while. A group approach to improving each others mental health!
I’ve also started a podcast in hopes that my desire to spread mental health awareness can reach more people.
Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health
Also on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Amazon Music, and Pandora
Please check it out and feel free to share it as well.