4 Ways to Recharge When You Can’t Completely Unplug

Parents and caregivers share how they disconnect.

Vadym Pastukh/ Shutterstock
Vadym Pastukh/ Shutterstock

We talk a lot about separating ourselves from our devices in order to recharge, but the truth is that there are times where we can’t unplug entirely; perhaps you’re a parent who needs to keep their phone on you, or a caretaker who needs to be available at any moment. But no matter your role, we all deserve to take little breaks that prevent us from experiencing fatigue and burnout. 

If you feel like you can’t unplug from technology entirely but still need to carve out time for yourself, here are a few tips that work for us at Thrive.

Give yourself a small reward at the end of each day  

When you know you have a long day ahead with your kids, it can be helpful to start your day by thinking about something that will help you relax later on. “I try to pick out one thing in the morning that I can look forward to at the end of the day, after the kids are asleep: reading a book chapter, watching an episode of a show, or calling a friend,” says Greg Beyer, Thrive’s Director of Content Strategy and a father of three. “I love the long hours of non-stop activity and taking care of them, but it helps to know there’s some small grown-up reward on the horizon.”

Call someone who brings joy into your life 

Hearing someone else’s voice can be a calming force during an overwhelming day. “I call a friend who lives nearby who is very positive and supportive, and has a lovely calming voice,” says Elaine Lipworth, a parent, caregiver for her husband, and writer at Thrive. “Going for a short walk with her helps me unplug. Listening to her talk about her own problems with her kids helps me forget my own stressors for a bit.”

Avoid work first thing in the A.M.

Many parents and caregivers need to have their phones nearby at night, which makes unplugging difficult. “Sometimes I need to stay accessible, and must bring my phone to bed with me,” says Hanna Sicker. “When this happens, I try to compensate for it the next morning. Instead of starting my day checking email and Slack, I will begin by watching my Reset guides.” Sicker explains that turning to her Reset in the Thrive app helps her start the day with a clear mind and a positive attitude.

Try a five-minute brain dump exercise

Writing can be a helpful way to recharge and reset without going off the grid, and carving out time for a brain dump before bed can help you relieve stress. “I write without editing or censoring for at least five minutes then I burn whatever I’ve written,” Lipworth says. “This is a psychological technique I learned ages ago that really helps shift stress and anxiety.” Lipworth adds that the key is writing down anything that comes into her head. The small Microstep helps her cope in stressful moments while still having her devices nearby in case someone needs to reach her.

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