Unplug & Hug Blog

February 17, 2018


As leaders, we think we have to be available for our people 24/7. But disconnecting from my team turned out to be the best thing I could do for them.

The first time I went on vacation while leading my company, I was about to take off on a plane when disaster struck at Student Maid. I couldn’t answer my team’s frantic calls and texts because the flight attendants were giving me the stink eye--I had no choice but to power down my phone. By the time we landed, I thought my company would be in ruins (literally: I thought it was on fire). But instead, I was shocked to see texts from my team that said, “Nevermind! We figured it out! :)” It turns out that they didn’t need me after all. They were perfectly capable of solving the crisis themselves--I had just never given them the chance to try before. The best part was that my team was proud of themselves for handling the situation all on their own.

After that, I started to disconnect more frequently and make myself less available.

I didn’t tota...

February 7, 2018

Valentines Day.

That one word can stir up lots of feelings and emotions.

February 14th brings with it excitement, anxiety and even sadness in some of us. And it doesn’t matter if you’re single or in a relationship. Feelings are universal. But one way everyone, no matter who you are or what situation you find yourself in, can embrace Valentines Day, is by embracing your most important Valentine: YOU! 

Self-love through self-care! 

Self-care is self-love, and here are some ideas for how you can practice it:

  • Put down your phone. Social media can often be a great source of human interaction, but disconnecting for an hour or two could be a good way to take an opportunity to take care of you.

  • Take a walk in the woods and think about all the positive things in your life, like how good you are at your job and hobbies, and what great family and friends you have.

  • Did someone say spa day?!?

  • Read a book. Reading is a peaceful and rewarding activity that opens your mind to new adventu...

February 1, 2018

When was the last time you allowed yourself to get lost in a book? While books are an easy choice for people who want to unplug, it is easy for even voracious readers to get distracted by life’s urgencies and leave the books to gather dust on their nightstands.

Working with customers, I’ve noticed people talking less about New Year’s resolutions, and more about New Year’s challenges. Some customers are committing to reading challenges, such as reading 25 or 50 books in 2018. Some are looking for new literary challenges (my personal challenge is to delve into poetry this year). Looking to simplify? Work smarter? Develop new skills?

There’s a book for that!

And then there are the escape artists among us – those who take advantage of the cold weather and long nights to curl up with compelling stories, whether contemporary or classics from days past.

A book-in-hand, no matter what the genre or topic, provides a simple way to slow down, find balance and restore calm. Give yourself permission t...

December 23, 2017

Like most kids, my internal countdown to Christmas was palpable.

The butterflies in my stomach and the agonizing wait for Santa’s Big Day, I wore on my sleeve.

Christmas couldn’t come soon enough.

My Mom and Dad, working hand-in-hand with Santa, did an excellent job filling my Christmas list every year. So, of course, the idea of new Barbies and Barbie accessories (all I cared about, really) factored in heavily to my idea that December 25th was, hands-down, the best day of the year. To sum it up very eloquently:

‘Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, upon which the entire kid year revolved.’ 

- Ralphie, A Christmas Story

Santa has long moved on to a new generation of chimneys.

Yet, my heightened excitement for the holidays remains. As an adult, it’s obviously not about Santa and piles of presents anymore. Heck, who can afford an epic, Santa-level haul these days?

But, looking back, I don’t think it was all about the ‘stuff’ when I was a kid either.

I think what I love and have always loved ab...

December 16, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a local diner for breakfast. We sat up at the counter, and next to us were a young man (early 20s) and his father. A charming picture, except for one thing: The entire time, the son was glued to his phone. Didn’t say a word that I could tell to his father, who ended up chatting off and on with the cook and wait staff. Then the check came, and the father took out his wallet and paid the bill.

What’s he paying for? Clearly not the pleasure of his son’s company!

First of all, yes, this brings to mind the conventional wisdom of “appreciate your loved ones because you never know how much time you’ll have with them”. But what really struck me about the whole thing was just how rude it was! This guy’s father could’ve taken him to McDonald’s drive-thru or gotten a bag of donuts at the Wawa next door.

But, no. He took him to this diner, presumably to spend time with him. But instead of appreciating the gesture, the son couldn’t be bothered to speak to him, much le...

December 2, 2017

So how many hugs do you get a day?  According to Virginia Satir, “Mother of Family Therapy”

We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.

Given the message to unplug and hug, twelve hugs a day will provide lots of opportunities for expansion.  Beyond growth, however, hugging can be a potent healer of the soul.  Hugs can be exchanged anywhere, no outlet required.  No tech device can claim that super power!

So, what’s in a hug? 

Hugging actually stimulates certain brain chemicals.  Oxytocin is what makes us social beings and allows us to feel empathy for others.  The boost in oxytocin resulting from a hug can ease feelings of loneliness and isolation, and even reduce feelings of anger.  Have you ever tried to stay mad at someone when you are hugging?  I find it virtually impossible.  Serotonin, one of the “feel good” hormones, is also released when embracing for an extended period, elevating our mood and creat...

November 10, 2017

The fire is the main comfort of the camp, whether in summer or winter, and is about as ample at one season as at another. It is as well for cheerfulness as for warmth and dryness. Fire is the most tolerable third party.

- Henry David Thoreau

There’s something magical about a fire.

(I’m talking about the good kind, of course, that you set on purpose in a controlled environment.) As a kid, when my dad would start a fire on a cold, wintry day, I’d be drawn in like a magnet. Or maybe no different than a moth to a flame. I’d sit with my back against the screen, my black lab at my side. And I’d let that warmth soak into my bones and the feeling of utter calm envelope me.

For years, I didn’t have a wood-burning fireplace of my own. But recently, my husband and I moved from the suburbs of Washington, DC to the country. There’s a centuries-old fireplace next to our house, still standing long after the house that once contained it fell. So, we built a patio around it. When we have friends and famil...

November 4, 2017

The holidays are just a month away! And that means holiday shopping! 


If you're like us at Unplug & Hug, you might cringe at the idea of holiday crowds, or even the idea of venturing to a mall. And, if you're REALLY like us, holiday shopping might make you want to just take a moment to meditate!

So, we're offering a great alternative to the holiday hustle and bustle.

As you make your list (and check it twice!), why not give the gift of unplugging to your family, friends and coworkers with one of our exclusive tanks and tees! 

Because no matter who's on your list, we think they'll love to take the time to disconnect to connect. To unplug and hug. And wear it proud!

All proceeds from our tanks and tees go towards Unplug & Hug-sponsored community events.

Ho ho holiday shopping! 

October 22, 2017

I've talked a lot about the social and personal benefits of unplugging.

When we unplug we are able to make one-on-one human connections and forge stronger personal bonds with our loved ones. Shutting down periodically also provides opportunities to appreciate the beauty of nature, do hands-on activities with our kids, explore our hobbies, be more productive at work and get in touch with our inner selves through things like meditation and exercise. (For me, that also includes a healthy dose of retail therapy!)

But unplugging is also a way to stave off health issues associated with the over-use of our phones, tablets and computers. And there are many. An abundance of research shows a direct correlation between the use of digital devices and things like increased stress levels, decreased attention span (especially in our kids), radiation and cancer. 

Using our Smartphones, tablets, smart watches and computers is unavoidable in our (ever growing) digital world. We nee...

July 30, 2017

Exposed [US] embassy staff experienced a statistically significant excess in depression, irritability, difficulty concentrating, memory loss; ear, skin and vascular problems; and other health impacts. Symptom incidence increased significantly with accrued years of exposure.

Many of us can recall Nancy Regan’s concern about the harmful effects of drug use in America, exemplified by the message of her famous say-no-to-drugs campaign: “This is your brain on drugs.” A strong warning from the First Lady about a serious health epidemic.

Similarly, cellphone use around the world has grown to epic proportions. And today’s researchers are raising questions about their impacts on our health.

The world has rapidly changed over the past few decades with the advent of cellphones. Almost 7 billion devices are now used worldwide. As of 2014, 90 percent of American adults possessed cellphones, and 58 percent had Smart Phones. The wireless industry has repeatedly assured the public of the safety of microw...

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Annabel Olah

Wife | Mom | Teacher

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2017 | Unplug & Hug 

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