Moving Us Closer To Osler
A Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence Initiative

Unplug, Rest, and Reboot


In times of stress, it’s important to find time each day to unplug.

There’s something mysterious and magical about rebooting a device—it always seems to resolve issues that can’t be fixed with logic or analysis. The printer won’t print, none of the touch-screen buttons are responding—unplug, reboot, problem solved. The email icon vanished from the cell phone homescreen—power off, reboot, it reappears.


While driving home from virtual office hours last week, I started a mental to-do list for the evening—finish reviewing postponed in-basket messages, answer emails, and catch up on the deluge of new information about COVID-19. When I got home, I hurried to get online but wasn’t sure where to begin. My thoughts were in knots too tight to untie. I sat frozen in front of the computer until roused by a question from my wife.


“My phone won’t pair with the Bluetooth speaker. Can you take a look?”


“Did you try powering off your phone and then rebooting?” I asked.


“Good idea. I never think to do that,” she replied.


I thought about my own dilemma, and suddenly it occurred to me. Perhaps I needed to power off and reboot myself. I convinced my wife to join me for a short work-out. Afterward, my head felt clear and I jotted a brief prioritized task list for the next day, and then got to sleep early.


Circuits, both neuronal and electronic, can get overloaded to the point that stressing them further with thinking and reason doesn’t help. The rapidly evolving coronavirus pandemic and associated new risks and responsibilities has created even more overload. In life, we can apply what often works with technology—unplug, rest, and reboot.


5 easy ways to unplug:


1. Limit time on social media.


2. Savor a meal at home with cell phones out of reach (always!). Be present with your loved ones.


3. Listen to music, belt out the tunes, or play the piano.


4. Binge-watch a great Netflix series or escape to a novel.


5. Go for a spring walk outside in the fresh air! Movement is always refreshing.