Motivation Monday: What Happened After I Unplugged

By Loralyn Mears PhD Loralyn Mears PhD has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on August 26, 2019

Monday Motivation here we come! This is for those of you who slog through your Monday mornings. If you lament the end of the weekend and dread returning to the office, you may need our Motivation Monday quick tips. Grit Daily offers an avenue to connect with others like you. We’re here to help get your work week off to a good start. Pump your fists – it’s time for Motivation Monday!


The horror before … then the aftermath

Of course, going on vacation is a wonderful experience. And a luxury at that. However, the horror before you go needs to be acknowledged as it’s definitely a thing. Call it the price of admission, a necessary evil or whatever you like, but getting ready to go on vacation takes a toll.

Case in point, there is so much prep! You have to pull the work scheduled for your vacation week forward, notify everyone, pack, get the family packed and organized, queue up doggie daycare, roast all the doggie chickens and veggies so meals are ready-to-go for the dogs. Plus, a plethora of other To-Do’s.

Motivation Monday as a health benefit

The week before I left was more than a 60h work week with at least 15,000 words blogged and I have no idea how much time was devoted to prep. Let’s just say that I didn’t sleep much and got progressively more run down as the week went on because I was ironically stressed out about getting everything done so that I could go on vacation. And we know it’s important to take your PTO because we covered that on motivation Monday just a few weeks ago. Here, I’ve learned by doing.

On the flip side, there is the aftermath of the return. Yup. I understand why some people elect to spend 30-60 min each day of a vacation dedicated to “staying caught up” but I think that doing so derails the benefits of taking a vacay. Studies show that our “no vacay” culture is harmful to our individual and collective health.

Completely ignoring everything for 8 days takes enormous willpower. And hutzpah! I returned to a full voicemail box, I stopped counting at 500 emails and there were 79 texts, including one from a client who apparently never received all the deliverables I sent over to him before I left. Ugh!

The benefits of unplugging

Oh, let me count the ways … I had zero apprehension about unplugging. And, upon my return, no regrets about doing so. For the better part of 8 days, I didn’t even know what time it was.

Intentionally, I avoided my phone altogether. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective, that meant that I took very few pictures which is uncharacteristic of me. And I didn’t fret about posting them on social media. Although I sort of wish we had some photos (which now lie at the bottom of the lake on my brother-in-law’s phone), the act of actively embracing each experience versus focusing on recording it made the memories that much more indelible. That in itself was invigorating and highlights a previous motivation Monday topic regarding the act of tuning in.

Motivation Monday goes off the deep end

Imagine my crazy reality. I woke up when the birds and the sunrise told me to. I went to bed when I was tired. My days consisted of eating whenever I was hungry and having a drink whenever I was thirsty. For entertainment, I played board games or swam in the beautiful freshwater lake whenever the kiddos were doing the same. And not once did I think, oh, I must check my email.

It was an incredible experience to be plugged into dialogue and interaction with real people, one-to-one or one-to-many, in-person versus through a device. We made the trek north so that we could see my parents, sisters, niece, nephews, cousins – and we even attended the exquisite wedding of one of my cousins on the way back to the States. Talk about a stunning bride!

No tips this week, just 3 reasons why

Over the past 5 months, we’ve gotten into a weekly cadence and standard format with our motivation Monday column. Here, in this section, we typically provide tips corresponding to the theme of the week. Well today, we’re going to change things up a bit by posting benefits instead of tips! However, if you must get your tip-fix, flip back to a column from a few weeks ago to find three tips on how to unplug.

#1 – it’s liberating

We don’t realize how dependent we’ve become on our phones. Yet the reverse is simply not true! My phone was just fine sitting in my purse all alone for one week without any attention. I can barely find the words this morning to describe how free I felt and how hard it was to turn it back on.

#2 – mindfulness

I know, I know, that’s a big word that everyone is throwing around a lot these days. But they do so for good reason. You take in the moment versus try to capture it. And, in the absence of digital distraction, you are fully engaged, fully present.

#3 – break the habit

Just as it takes seven times to make a new behavior part of your unconscious daily routine, it probably takes seven days of not doing something to break a habit. Mission accomplished. In fact, given my motivation Monday experiment, from this point forward, I will be spending as little time as possible on my phone each day. This means: no more absently checking social media, exchanging mindless texts or keeping a call going longer than I should have.

Results of the unplugging experiment

Disclaimer: no, this is not real science. This is pseudo-science and it’s just fun. Try it with me!

HYPOTHESIS: my score will be higher (ie/ I will feel better) AFTER my unplugging break.

OBJECTIVE: to subjectively assess how I feel today (BEFORE) and how I feel after I’ve had a week at the cottage with my family and friends totally unplugged (AFTER).

SCORING: based on a score of 1-10 where 10 is highest, assess how you feel right now:

SCORE = 8  … I am in good physical health. Before I unplugged, the Score = 4.

SCORE = 10I am in good mental health. Before I unplugged, the Score = 8.

SCORE = 9I laugh at everything. Before I unplugged, the Score = 6.

SCORE = 10I feel burnt out. Before I unplugged, the Score = 5.

SCORE = 9I feel stressed. Before I unplugged, the Score = 6.


RESULTS: scientists unanimously agree that data should speak for itself. Sure, you can add some visual color to make the results easier to understand but, in this case, the numbers tell a simple and compelling story. Take a break when you need to!

Before I unplugged, my SCORE = 29/50

You don’t need to be a mathematician to figure out how much unplugging benefited my physical, emotional and mental health. Of course, being with friends and family was equally critical to the equation but wow. I’m already scoping out AirBnB for the next one … but first, gotta get this motivation Monday column published!

By Loralyn Mears PhD Loralyn Mears PhD has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Dr. Loralyn Mears is a Columnist at Grit Daily and a podcast host (The Grit Files, which aims to shine the spotlight on female founders). She is a content marketer, founder of the WORKtech startup, STEERus, specializing in personal and professional development to address gaps in soft skills - communication in particular. In her consultancy practice, she helps clients with content and strategy. Loralyn spent over a decade playing with mosquito DNA, got her PhD, decided she would rather market science than be at the bench and has never looked back. Along the way, she’s wined and dined her way around the globe. She's authored two books, including the 2018 Gold Medal Indie Book award-winning, One Sip At a Time: a Memoir and the hard science thriller, "The Battle for Humanity: How Science Saved Us." 

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