Motivation Monday: the Unplugging Experiment

By Loralyn Mears PhD Loralyn Mears PhD has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on August 12, 2020

Motivation Monday 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 mini-escape

Over the weekend, we spent a day at the Jersey Shore. Call it a dry run for the unplugging experiment. And an opportunity to fuel up for today’s motivation Monday column.

The ocean is at peak warmth this time of year so the water was perfect. The sand is divine and feels warm and squishy between your toes. Well, at least it did in the morning until the afternoon sun baked it and then my feet were burning, but hey.

Relaxing … I slowly drift …

I closed my eyes. I allowed my body to float and let my mind do the same. Of course, as is the case any time that I’m in the ocean, I have panic attacks that a shark will get me so my moments of relaxation are fleeting.

Truth be told, I’m not a fan of open water so I always make sure that I am not the first line of food. I tend to stay closer to the shore and let the braver people serve as bait on the outer ring.

Once I’m comfortable that any predator nearby would have a plethora of menu options and I’ve calculated my odds to arrive at a favorably low percent chance, then I relax. For a second.

And then I start thinking about all the blogs I have to write and what my topic is going to be for motivation Monday … and how am I going to get everything done so that I can go on vacation.

Since relaxing is hard for me, I dive into the waves head-on. Over and over. It’s so freeing to feel the waves crash over you. I body surf and giggle like a little girl riding the foam into the shore until my knees skim the sand. It’s invigorating, life-affirming and simply joyful to experience.

Tips to unplug

As a scientist, I have a deep sense of curiosity and tend to analyze everything. Lucky for me that I also have a creative side which stomps on the logical side of me and screams “help” every once in a while. Today, it’s screaming. Talk about motivation Monday!

So, combining the best of all worlds – and both sides of my brain – is the logical next step. I’m going to do an experiment of sorts. Next week, I’ll be unplugging, except maybe for one day so that I can connect with my besties to coordinate a birthday outing for one of them. Happy Birthday, Jillian! And, to make it pseudo-scientific, I’m going to assess how I feel before and after I unplug and recharge with my family.

#1 – ask yourself, do you need a break?

It sounds so obvious! But it’s quite challenging to be that highly attuned and self-aware to the point that you realize that you need to take a break. Typically, most of us don’t get to that stage until we’re well past the breaking point and, at least for some of us, it’s too late by that point. We’ll become increasingly agitated and stressed out by the fact that we’ve just realized how stressed we are. It’s a vicious circle and will require a dramatic change to break the cycle.

#2 – a little goes a long way

When I debate this topic with my friends, we often arrive at a consensus. That said, we usually agree that a break is in order and even a small break would be beneficial. But we never take it! Then, weeks or months later, it becomes crystal clear to both of us that we need to take that break, but we put it off. Again.

The tip here is that you don’t need to take a sledge-hammer to your life. Admittedly, jumping on a plane and flying down to Aruba to slurp fancy-schmancy cocktails oceanside under a palm tree is indeed a beguiling vision. But that’s not necessary and it is likely out of reach to many of us. Instead, plan a series of “life breaks” rather than just one big exodus which may add financial stress and workload stress on top of what you’re already experiencing.

Do you have a park nearby? Or, perhaps you’re lucky enough to be within reach of the beach? Indulge yourself. Take the afternoon off. Maybe even go a little crazy, invite a friend and brave the traffic to escape for a weekend. Just shutting down your working brain for a little while can do wonders. Activate your feeling brain and you’ll notice a change. Plus, you’ll start noticing things that you’ve taken for granted such as how things taste and smell. Then, you’ll relax and find yourself laughing and living.

#3 – park your phone

I’m not kidding. Lock it up in the car so it’s there if you need it when a shark gets too close to the shore. Odds are that you won’t need it at all. People have forgotten that we as a civilization thrived for millennia without being tethered to a mobile phone. Ask yourself, do you really need to be one ring away from someone or something? Probably not. Park it!

The Motivation Monday unplugging experiment

Disclaimer: no, this is not real science. This is pseudo-science for motivation Monday 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 (AFTER).

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

My health score “BEFORE” unplugging

SCORE = 4I am in good physical health. I can’t shake this cold, I swear it’s TB and I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in more than a month, plus I wrecked my back – and my bike 5 weeks ago and just haven’t recovered. I’ve only done yoga twice since then and have lost more than a month of summertime physical fitness activities which is stressing me out.

SCORE = 8I am in good mental health. I don’t feel like I’m operating at 100%. My ability to ideate, create and strategize isn’t where it usually is.

SCORE = 6I laugh at everything. I am typically first-one-for-fun and make everyone else laugh but I feel a bit weighed down, things aren’t as funny as they usually are.

SCORE = 5I feel burnt out. I seem to be stalled out. I continue to hit all my client deliverables each week, on time, and high quality, but I can’t find time for myself to work on my own project. Many of my friends are going through stuff which saddens me to hear and frustrates me that I can’t help them.

SCORE = 6I feel stressed. The pressure to do well and meet or exceed my client expectations is there. So is the pressure to acquire new clients, more referrals and more earnings.

TOTAL SCORE = 29/50 which is barely a passing grade. I need to unplug before the next Motivation Monday! Watch this space …

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in August 2019.

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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