I don’t know about you, but I am seriously attached to technology. There honestly is barely a moment a day where I am not connected to something in one way or another. Whether it be scrolling through social media feeds to entertain myself in public, listening to podcasts while I do housework or watching Netflix before bed – I’m literally constantly engaging in technology.
I have been starting to think about why I do this. I commute for work, school and my relationship so podcasts help ease my sanity in LA traffic. I’m an anxious person, so I cling to social media when in situations I’m not totally comfortable. But what about the rest of it? Doctors always warn against watching television while you eat but I honestly can’t remember the last time I ate a meal at home without the TV on. When I wake up, the first thing I do is check Instagram (don’t get me started on how much time I have wasted Instagram stories).
Habits like these are far from healthy.
So, in honor of National Unplugging Day on March 3rd and 4th, and my own well-being, I will spend a large portion of this weekend “unplugged” and getting my digital detox on.
Are you in?
Unfortunately, there a few things that I can’t totally unplug from. This may be cheating, but we all have things we need to compromise. The crucial part is making an effort to disconnect from tech and reconnect with loved ones, nature, and yourself! Most importantly, making an effort to carry these practices over into your daily life!
I am going to walk you through some ideas I have for my own Digital Detox! Take this as somewhat of a guide, if you will. Pick and choose what works for you and what doesn’t. Again, it’s okay if you aren’t completely unplugged, just be sure to spend a good amount of time away from technology!
Reconnect with Yourself
First, I think it’s really important to start this by getting connected with your body and its needs. In our fast paced technology-driven culture it’s far too rare that we take some much needed “me-time”.
Why not start your day with well deserved self-care and reconnect to your body?
Rather than waking up and grabbing your phone, I suggest trying out some meditation. Meditation not your thing? Don’t fret. Try simply taking 10 minutes or so to focus on your breathing. You could do this lying in bed or sitting somewhere solid like the floor. Take big breaths in by the nose and exhale through your mouth.
Next, do some yoga! If you’re a regular yogi go ahead and do some Sun Salutations. If not, just spread out on the floor and stretch. Yoga is all about breathing and getting in touch with your body’s needs. Be sure to focus on your breathing, your movement, and respond to how your body feels. Breathe into tense areas, but stop if anything really hurts. The point here is to start listening to your body again.
Now, if you’re anything like me, then you’re all about self-care. If I could lie in a bath filled with epsom salt while wearing a face mask for 5 hours I totally would. I think it’s really important to take time to do nice things for yourself. For me, that pretty much always includes essential oils and some kind of face product. If that isn’t your thing, no worries! Do whatever is – as long as it isn’t technology centered, of course.
Take some time to do whatever makes you feel really good!
Organize your desk, cook your favorite meal, draw, read a book, knit, paint your nails – anything! Just like with yoga or meditation, it’s important for us to have technology-free activities that make us feel good and let us express ourselves. Rather than waste an hour on Facebook, do something more stimulating and enjoyable! Maybe something you haven’t done in awhile or something totally new.
Reconnect with Nature
There are countless studies about the health and mental benefits of spending time in nature. I think it’s safe to assume that you probably don’t do enough of it. Plus, if you’re like me and live in a city, “nature” may like a far away concept of trees and wilderness that would require a stressful 3 hour drive just to get to. But nature doesn’t have to be this theoretical “out there” place – I guarantee you can find some way to connect to it wherever you are. What’s most important here is just getting fresh air!
Go to the beach! Sit in the sand and think about how it feels beneath you. Actually swim in the ocean! Too often people go to the beach just to tan (which can be unhealthy if there’s too much sun exposure) and don’t ever get wet. Some studies have shown that swimming in the ocean can relieve anxiety and depression, among other health benefits. It sounds cheesy but it’s true! Plus, it’s fun! Who doesn’t love playing in the waves?
Go for a hike! It’s exercise, it’s outdoors, and it is always such an accomplishment once you get to the top of whatever track you’re climbing – nothing beats the view at tippy top of a hike. Maybe find a trail you’ve never done before!
Go to a park! Have a picnic or just walk around and look at the people and their dogs(!). Kick around a ball or something if you’re into it. Bring a blanket and spread out in the grass and amongst the trees. Breathe in that greenery that, if you’re like me, you probably don’t get enough of.
You could even just go for a bike ride! Feel the wind on your face!
If you’re really awesome or adventurous, go camping or any other outdoorsy activity you dig!
Again, it’s not so much what you do, but that you do something and have a positive attitude about it. Just like with the self-care, the goal is to be in tune with your body and to expose yourself to something other than your phone!
Reconnect with Your Loved Ones
Although technology is an amazing way to keep in touch with loved ones, it tends to inhibit us from our super important face-to-face interactions. I want to reiterate here that I am not bashing using technology to keep in touch: there are people I would never talk to if it wasn’t for my cellphone! I also don’t want to belittle those relationships. However, nothing compares to in person communication and connection.
We all have fallen into holes with our technology around our loves ones. Do you put your phone on the table at a restaurant, text or browse Tumblr during conversations, or watch TV rather than talk to each other during dinner? I definitely do some of these things and they are habits that I really want to work on.
So, take this day to make plans for some IRL interactions and cut out those distractions! Maybe plan a date with your significant other: Go out to dinner or a bar! Have a romantic night in that doesn’t include Netflix on the couch. Talk to each other, like really talk to each other! Remember how you used to stay up until 4:00 am talking about everything when you were first dating? Do that!
Obviously there are a lot of important relationships outside of romantic ones. Hang out with you family! Is your family close by? Do you like them? Great! Have a meal with them and a conversation outside of not actually listening to what your mom is saying on the phone (it’s okay, we’ve all been there).
Do something with your friends! Plan a fun and silly activity like bowling where you can all let loose and goof around. Or, have them join you on your outdoorsy adventure! Get coffee and catch up with someone you haven’t seen in awhile and miss talking to. Better yet, get a group of people together for something really engaging and communicative at home, like a game night! Stock up on beer, make finger foods (and have your friends bring some, too) and go crazy with some Apple to Apples or Pictionary. If you’re super competitive like me, then you know how rowdy board nights can get. That’s the point though! Do something really silly that you haven’t done in awhile and just enjoy being surrounded by people you love.
Don’t worry, the idea of a day without my phone or television freaked me out, too.
It was relieving in itself to plan out the things I could do without my phone, and I honestly cannot wait to do them! Hopefully this was helpful for thinking about your own day of unplugging.
Now, put your phone on airplane mode, unplug your TV and close that laptop – it’s time for your digital detox!
Bree Flory is an intersectional feminist and animal lover who is particularly invested in health. Currently a Women’s, Gender and Sexuality student at Cal State Long Beach, she spends her time turning her passions into academic activism. When she’s not busy studying or spreading awareness on living a nontoxic lifestyle, she is taking long baths, cooking extravagant vegan food, and crying about dogs.