by Mark on May 5, 2010

Yesterday I was stressed out beyond belief. I was extremely fatigued, and I couldn’t focus. A great deal of the time my job is like “drinking water from a fire hose,” meaning that there is so much coming at me that it can easily be overwhelming. If I’m not in a strong mental and physical state, then it is impossible to deal with. There is nothing I can do about the amount of information and tasks coming at me from all directions, and there is nothing I can do about all the tasks I really need to get to but can’t due to other priorities. The best I can do is block out everything that doesn’t deserve my focus in the current moment. This is easier said than done, of course, which I why I said that I need to be in a strong mental and physical state to do it. Yesterday I was in too weak a state, so I couldn’t focus and got little done.

My 12-Hour Media and Communications Fast

I was feeling so burned out that I decided that I needed to find a way to recharge. As I was driving home, I decided that I would exercise to wake up my body. I decided that I would do something quick and easy before I did anything else. When I got home, out of habit one of the first things that I did was go to my home office to turn on the computer. I caught myself at the last second and decided that I would turn it on after my workout. Then I thought to myself, am I really so addicted to the Internet that I have to jump on it every night?

In that moment, I made an unusual decision. I decided that I would could go on a 12-hour media and communications fast. I decided that I wasn’t going to turn on my computers or go on the Internet. In fact, I turned off the power switch on my surge protector to make sure that I didn’t accidentally turn the computer on. Yes, my habits are pretty well ingrained. Then I pulled the plug on my TV. I shut off my cell phone and turned the ringer off on my landline. I was on a total media and communications lockdown.

I was stressed out about having to write for this blog because of the commitment that I made to myself, so I decided that I wouldn’t write for at least one night. It wouldn’t kill me, and since I’m “self-employed,” I’m in charge of my writing schedule. I decided that I wouldn’t worry about anything for at least one night, and then I would turn in early and get a good night’s rest. I started with some very quick exercises just to wake up my body. It wasn’t about getting in shape. I ran around in the condo complex for about 10 minutes and then came back home and then jumped rope for about 5 minutes. I don’t know how many people jump rope, but it definitely challenges the body and gets your heart pumping very quickly. It did the job.

After that, all I did was read until I went to bed at 10 PM, which is much earlier than usual. For three hours, all I did was read and not worry about anything else. The peace of mind was amazing. The stress just melted away. This will definitely be a strategy that I will revisit more in the future. In fact, I might even try longer media and communications fasts.

If you are feeling stressed out, I highly recommend trying a media and communications fast. Just disconnect from everything for a few hours. The world will still be there when you return. I promise.

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