The habits that get formed around scrolling through social media or checking your email can be powerful — and the impulse to pick up your phone can be a hard one to resist. So how can you unplug, and come to think of it, why would you want to?
Setting up a routine to unplug at least once a week might sound daunting, especially if you’re used to frequently checking your phone every time a notification sounds. We know it’s easier said than done, but we’re so convinced of the benefits of unplugging that we’re providing you with a practical routine for a weekly unplug as well as some alternative activities you can do during your unplugged time. And what better way to start than by joining the National Day of Unplugging on March 5-6!
Benefits of Unplugging
In our digitally connected age, it seems people are on some kind of device or another all the time. We’ve probably all experienced the frustration that comes when the person driving in front of you starts swerving because they’re looking at their phone or when someone on the street inadvertently walks into you because they’re too busy texting to watch where they’re going. And we’ve all probably also been that person at some point! So what are the benefits of unplugging, aside from avoiding potential accidents, and why should you unplug at least once a week?
Sonoma State University psychology professor Mary Gomes explains that taking a break from your screens and unplugging can help you to cultivate a greater sense of mindful awareness (meaning you’re better able to be in the present moment), improve your sleep thanks to reduced blue light exposure, deepen your relationships by encouraging more face-to-face contact, increase productivity and learning by removing distractions, and break the habit so you’re more in control of your screen time. In addition, unplugging might also improve your overall physical, spiritual, mental and social health by reducing stress, increasing positive emotions and promoting physical movement. Sounds great, but how can you do it?
How To Unplug: A Practical Routine
We’re suggesting that you plan to take at least one full day off from your devices (including your TV) each week. Plan in advance what day you’re going to do it, and inform everyone that you know that you will not be available (on your devices) for the entire day. In case of emergencies, you don’t have to turn off your phone, but put your phone and tablet in a place where you won’t have the temptation to access them (like your closet), or put them in a bag in a drawer. Turn off all notifications or turn on Do Not Disturb mode.
What Can You Do Instead?
We know that despite the benefits, it can be hard to unplug. When making changes to any habit, it’s always a good idea to have a list of things you can choose to do instead. Create an enjoyable plan for your weekly digital detox and you might just find yourself looking forward to it.
1. Spend Time With Friends
When’s the last time you actually sat down with someone in person and had a real heart-to-heart? It’s not always possible, especially due to busy schedules or external circumstances like the pandemic, but it’s just not the same talking via text, social media or video chat. Face-to-face communication allows for a better exchange of information and helps you pick up on social cues that you aren’t otherwise able to notice through other mediums of communication.
2. Get Outdoors
Studies have shown that spending time in nature can help you slow down and improve your health and well-being. Even getting fresh air by going for a walk in your neighborhood can provide benefits.
3. Find a New Hobby
You might have been so busy on your phone that you’ve put off learning to play the guitar, painting, knitting or journaling, so now’s the perfect time to take up that new hobby or learn a new skill.
4. Read a Physical Book
There’s just something satisfying about holding an actual paperbound book as opposed to reading off a device. Buy yourself a “real” book off your to-read list; science shows that screens can actually inhibit comprehension and “real” books may be better for eye health.
5. Design a Day of Pampering
Have you really taken good care of you lately? Plan a day of pampering by getting a massage or manicure, buying some soothing bubble bath or oil and taking a good long soak, and treating yourself to one of our Broad Spectrum Hemp Deep Hydration face masks.
A lot of people have the intention to meditate, but as soon as they turn on their devices, their intentions go out the window. Meditation has so many benefits, including easing stress, promoting inner peace and helping you focus on what’s really important. You can get started by practicing a simple mindfulness meditation for 10-20 minutes where you just sit, close your eyes and focus on your breath as you observe thoughts as they pass through your mind.
7. Bake or Cook a New Dish
Curious about a new cuisine or want to try your hand at baking macarons? You can use the extra time you’ve gained from unplugging to expand your culinary horizons.
8. Get Moving
Physical activity is another thing we all know we should do more of (but don’t always do). Carve some time out of your device-free day to go for a run (or walk), get a trampoline and try rebounding, or practice some mindful yoga. After your workout, use our Broad Spectrum Hemp Comfort Cream which may help you ease achy joints and muscles.
Remember that your devices, social media and messages will all be waiting for you once you plug back in. Consider the benefits, make a plan and give it a try, because the only thing you have to lose is stress — and that’s not a bad thing.
Stacy Mosel, LMSW, is a substance abuse specialist, psychotherapist and licensed social worker. She received her master’s in social work from New York University in 2002, and has had extensive training in child and family therapy and the identification and treatment of substance abuse and mental health disorders.
National Day of Unplugging – Home Page
Greater Good – Five Reasons To Take a Break From Screens
Saint Catherine University, Sophia – Unplugging: A Phenomenological Study
UW Health – Taking a Technology Break Can Help Your Health
Ashton College – The Importance of Face-to-Face Communication
Nature – Spending at Least 120 Minutes a Week in Nature Is Associated With Good Health
Scientific American – The Reading Brain in the Digital Age
Mayo Clinic – Meditation: A Simple, Fast Way To Reduce Stress
Sally’s Baking Addiction – Step-by-Step Guide To French Macarons