Holiday disconnect: Go offline to rejuvenate

Decorative photo of ethnically diverse family enjoying meal together.

DALLAS – Nov. 21, 2018 – If a holiday vacation is on the list, UT Southwestern brain health experts say own it.

Significant de-stressing may take overworked and under-vacationed people several days just to get used to the idea of relaxing, says Dr. Munro Cullum, Chief of Psychology. Remaining constantly available and on call via phone and email during times set aside to get away from career pressures and everyday schedules keeps you on edge, which can detract from allowing your mind to have a break.

“Set aside the phones and disconnect from computers and social media,” says Dr. Cullum, a neuropsychologist at UT Southwestern’s O’Donnell Brain Institute. “Keep in mind that exercise, a healthful diet, and adequate sleep are important, of course, but we also need some real down time, to allow our brains to work offline in order to de-stress and recharge.

“Getting away for a vacation allows us time to simply play, relax, and leave the work ‘baggage’ behind,” he says. “More and more we are flooded with information in ever-increasing quantities, with more ‘to-do’ lists, greater job demands, more to keep in mind, and more things to remember. These things add up to stress, even though you may not be completely aware of it.”

Tune out the tube chatter as well.

“We hear so much negative news these days that we can get caught up in negative thought patterns, which may contribute to our own anxieties and concerns about the future.” 

Dr. Cullum holds the Pam Blumenthal Distinguished Professorship in Clinical Psychology.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 15 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 105,000 hospitalized patients, nearly 370,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 2.4 million outpatient visits a year.