Going cold turkey — a week of media and reading deprivation

I’m taking a media break this week and giving my mind a rest.  For the past 10 weeks, as I’ve recovered from hip replacement, my brain has been saturated with CBC radio, newspapers, online media, magazines, TV and social media.  Its time for a break.

Its time to listen to my internal musings and stop the over-stimulation that comes from constant news feeds and other media hype.  The constant external barrage is compromising my inner life. Like a recovering alcoholic, I am going cold turkey — no reading, no CBC, no TV, no online diversions.  It’s a terrifying prospect and I’ll blog about the process as well as the results.

Why withdraw?

This experiment is partly a response to Julia Cameron’s challenge as she guides readers through various stages of creative recovery.  She calls for a week of reading deprivation. Cameron proposes reading deprivation as a method of kick-starting a process of eliminating the ‘pollutants’ that contaminate inner awareness.  Cameron also advises that many of us are addicted to media or to reading as a method of feasting on the words and thoughts of others.  Reading deprivation is a method of re-focusing on your own ideas, thoughts and feelings.

The second reason for media withdrawal is that I’ve felt bombarded with ideas.  Trivia overloads my brain.  I’m tired of admonitions on how to live my life more thoughtfully, more energetically, more completely.  The advice is confusing and, frankly, most of it is unnecessary.  I’ve lived a rewarding life for well for over 60 years so why would I need media advice in retirement?   Thank you very much, but I’m creating my own postworksavvy lifestyle.

What if I miss something important?

I may well miss ‘important’ news as the trouble in the middle east escalates, or as the weather mavens warn of impending snow and cold, or as important new ideas are broadcast.  But I have often taken a week off when on vacation or travelling or occupied with important life events.  When I was in overdrive at work, I often missed reading the daily news and considered myself lucky to review the daily industry-specific clippings.  Weeks passed without me finishing a novel.

My world did not stop.  Getting informed and catching up was never a problem.  And, I’m confident that during this one week experiment, those around me will keep me out of danger should some real life catastrophe arise.

But what will I do?

I’ll have to get creative about how I occupy my time as I am still limited in my mobility.  That means that physical activity like going for a walk or going to the gym aren’t options.  But my stash of retirement projects has hardly been touched.  I had plans to sort drawers and closets and bookshelves and filing cabinets once I stopped working.  I also had plans to involve myself with hobbies that I enjoyed many years ago  And, there’s the family cookbook that I started writing a few years ago and my beautiful piano that has not been played for too long.  If desperate enough, I can always tackle some mundane household chores like ironing but hopefully I’ll be more creative in how I occupy myself.

I am hopeful that the quiet hours will allow time to reflect and to focus on those deep inner yearnings that are often neglected when I am indulging myself in the musings of other writers, the perspectives of popular journalists, or the attitudes that various media pundits project.  The week will be a rest from the noise of the world.

I’ll use my journal to keep track of how this week evolves and will write about this personal challenge in a future blog post.  Cheer me on!

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6 Replies to “Going cold turkey — a week of media and reading deprivation”

  1. judy siebler says: Reply

    I just found your blog and am REALLY connecting with what you are saying. I retired after 43 as a teacher and find it hard to give myself permission to NOT be busy every second and NOT make a list OR keep track of time…used to 47 minute class period. Am glad I found this blog.

    1. It’s been almost a year since I retired. I am still learning about how to structure my time without over-structuring the days as I did previous to retirement. The media deprivation week was difficult but it taught me that some of the best thinking happens without the constant barrage of information. I hope you’ll become a regular reader of my posts! Be well, Jeanette

  2. Jeanette, I am trying to remember way back when I had my hip surgeries … I was lucky enough to have had them in April(s) and so when I got to the point where you are, I was able to swim. I found that very therapeutic and meditative, as well. Best wishes for continued recuperation (although you won’t be reading this for a few days, I guess …(^_^)…

    1. Hi Sheila, I’m just getting caught up with emails now that my week of media deprivation is over. Thanks for your encouragement about swimming as a method of speeding up the recuperation. Last week I got the green light to begin aquafit and yoga so i’m back at the gym. Some of the natural exercise is better than physio so i’m feeling like I’ve turned another corner on the road to recovery.
      Be well, Jeanette

  3. This can be something I must find more information about, many thanks for the publish.

    1. Hi Marion, It was an interesting experiment. As a yoga practitioner, I learned how media interferes with mindfulness and compromises my ability to attend carefully to the present moment. Let me know if you go ahead with your own week of deprivation. Be well, Jeanette

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