Unplug

- By: Safia Ohlson

Unplug

If you’re of a certain age, then you remember when smart phones were a novelty, rather than de rigueur. Now the average American spends about ten hours a day looking at a screen. Between work demands, streaming options, and social media (there are many sources citing a link between social media and depression), it’s as if our lives have been commandeered by our devices.

Today is National Day of Unplugging, which promotes a 24-hour respite from technology. The idea is to cultivate a life/tech balance and elevate human connection over digital engagement.

We’re saying a big “yes, please” to that.

While it’s not always possible to completely disconnect (find a day where it’s totally possible because that’s where the magic happens), here are some ideas for reducing screen time, breaking the addiction to tech, and living a life that is connected (but not to devices).  

Mindful mornings
Are you the wake-up-and-scroll type? See how it feels to try something different. Instead of reaching for your phone (get an analog alarm clock and leave your phone in another room when you sleep), wake up and go outside first thing. Greet the sun. Take a dawn hike. Create a coffee or tea ritual. Snuggle, meditation, yoga… whatever it takes to create new behavioral patterns. Your attention deserves better than to be usurped by algorithms first thing.  

Practice Leaving Your Device for Short Periods
If safety is a concern, bring your phone but leave it off. Try it on a weekend — just go ahead and leave the house without your phone. Notice how it feels. (Do you have withdrawals? Are you more connected to the people around you? Are you more attuned to your environment? Did you get lost navigating around town?) We’re so used to our devices being like an appendage, this practice can feel weird at first… and that’s the sign you’re on the right track!

Keep Track of Your Time
If you’ve ever kept a food journal, then you likely know how shocking it can be to track all the random snacking that happens in a day. Same goes for scrolling. Give yourself certain windows of non-work-related device time and see how much more free time you suddenly have. It’s so easy to lose hours while habitually looking down at a device.

Go Full Digital Detox
Sorry to break it to you, but this is going to require a vacation. Pack your car and head to the wilderness. Go somewhere the cell service is dodgy (at best). Keep your phone locked away in the glovebox. Stay as long as you’re able. Ahhhh, that’s better.

Happy National Day of Unplugging. If it takes us longer than usual to return your text it’s because we’re taking our own advice.