Unplug to recharge: Grand Valley residents share ways to take time away from every-day technologies
Smartphones, iPads, laptops, television with Roku boxes, e-Readers and the list goes on. The seemingly endless barrage of everyday technologies used at work and home means a person could literally be “online” every waking hour of the day.
New technologies make life easier in so many ways — telecommuting for work in another state is as simple as pressing a computer’s “on” button; families and friends stay in constant contact with each other; school work may be turned in from home on a cloud-based internet system. And on and on …
Yet, taking time to step away from technology-based activity is healthy, too.
“My favorite way to totally unplug is to go out into nature,” said Dr. Scott Rollins, a local physician specializing in complex medical conditions. “Camping, rafting, etc. No phones, no computers, no TV, not even any traffic or decisions to make.”
According to Rollins, smaller “unplugs” during the day are beneficial to one’s health as well. He said the biggest health hazards associated with too much time spent hooked into technologies are a sedentary lifestyle, loss of “tranquil time, which the body needs to heal and rest the normal stress response,” and social isolation.
“Excess internet usage is associated with more social isolation, depression and anxiety,” Rollins said. “Adolescents particularly have a hard time distinguishing between online and real-life behaviors.”
Eye problems and heart disease (caused by too much sitting) are additional health issues associated with too much computer and television use.
There are many ways to unplug daily, but most of those questioned about their habits said they like to venture out into nature when taking a break.
Lylamae Chedsey of Grand Junction said she works in her garden when she needs to recharge.
“When I am out working in the garden, I can let everything else slide away and just dig, pull weeds and plant to my heart’s delight,” Chedsey said. “On a typical day, I am serenaded by a multitude of birds, as we have robins, gambel’s quail, doves (and) black birds that live in the area.”
This hobby relaxes Chedsey, who works as an artist and web designer, because it takes her back to the earth and to her childhood.
“I have had a garden or helped with the gardening since I was old enough to help outside with the farming chores,” she said. “Later, I was on a cattle ranch up in the mountains, where we had a garden that was a challenge at (an elevation of) 8,600 feet.”
Kimberly Mussmacher, another Grand Junction resident and fine artist, said she got rid of her TV two years ago to de-stress her family life. Now, she spends more time with her husband doing simpler things — reading books, making art, taking strolls outside, and going on motorcycle rides.
“Easy things that people used to do for centuries before the TV was created,” Mussmacher said. “We probably live life at a slower pace.”
That said, Mussmacher noted an increased use in her social media technologies over the past few years to keep in contact with friends and family.
“One really needs to balance time because time is so precious,” she said. “You can turn things off and walk away. It might improve your quality of life.”
PLUGGING IN TO TAKE TIME OFF
Staying in constant contact with work through internet-based technologies may oddly enough allow for some much needed time off, too.
Grand Junction resident Martin Wiesiolek, 47, works as a web developer/manager and values internet-based technologies as an integral component to his livelihood. He also stressed the importance of spending time away from work, something he said is made possible by the very same technologies.
“I am self-employed (in partnership with another small business), and at times I work insanely long weeks and hours at my home office,” Wiesiolek said. “At the same time, I am able to get up and go midweek for a race somewhere in Colorado or fly to Iceland knowing that I will be able to devote a few hours a day for my clients and work.
“In the winter, I spend a few days a week in Summit County ski-race training, and I can do this only because I work from there using a portable computer, mobile devices, monitors, and internet connectivity that I bring with me.”
Though staying in constant connection to his job may look like a refusal to unplug to some, Wiesiolek said it allows him to take a much-needed break while enjoying a change of scenery.
“I’d rather spend a couple hours a day working on my vacation or ‘days off’ than not being able to leave the office at all,” he noted. “I also learned to be disciplined about when I connect and to stay focused on task so I can eventually ‘disconnect’ and do other things.”
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