The Importance of Unplugging During COVID-19

The Importance of Unplugging During COVID-19

For the past 5 weeks, we’ve been exploring issues of gender equity at work. During those five weeks, most of the world has gone into lockdown over the COVID-19 global pandemic. This fact has altered how and when we work, and whether we work at all. I think it also needs to alter our blog focus. We’ve talked about some serious ways that gender and public health intersect. But for our final blog in this cycle I wanted to talk about the importance of unplugging.

Ironic, given that you have to read this blog on some form of tech device, but after you read this, you can unplug. I’ve had lots of conversations with friends and colleagues about the challenges of moving from on-site to remote working in the last few weeks. Without doubt, one of the biggest challenges facing everyone is the rapid burnout coming from having all our interactions online. Technology has kept us remarkable connected, but always in a virtual sense, which can have its own ramifications.

During this exceptionally (I’m getting tired of typing that word) stressful time, it’s very important that we try and build in time away from screens and devices. Our physical world has shrunk, for many of us, to our house or apartment, maybe our yard or neighborhood, and essential shopping trips. So it’s tempting to seek the outside world through our technological connections.

However, too much screen time or tech time can limit our time in the present. From a work perspective, you might be on Zoom meetings all day for yourself and your homeschooled kids. Try a family game night or craft time after dinner to help everyone unplug. Working and living with these devices is a constant level of stimulation our bodies were not built for. Learning how to unplug, especially now, is a survival mechanism.

This has gendered implications too. Women are more likely to be essential workers (both in service jobs and healthcare) and are more likely to have other caring burdens – like childcare, elderly care, and other tasks. Be mindful of what level of technological interaction you’re asking of yourself and others. And take a break everyday, even if it’s for 5 minutes to watch the wind blow through the trees. There are so many ways this pandemic can have lasting negative effects, but tech burnout might be one of the few areas we can have some control.

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