We’ve experienced so many changes to our day-to-day lives due to the pandemic, and many of us have found it increasingly challenging to unplug from technology while spending more of our time at home, logged into video meetings for work, and even having virtual social get-togethers take the place of our in-person interactions. In other words: If you’ve noticed that your screen use has climbed during this time, you’re not alone. But it’s never too late to take small steps to help you unplug a bit more — and doing so is important because tech breaks are key to recharging.
We asked our Thrive community to share the tips that are helping them unplug and recharge this summer. Which of these will you try?
Spend time outside
“I have found connecting with nature is an easy and effective way to unplug. Depending on your situation, this can mean working in your backyard, taking a walk in your neighborhood or at a nearby park during your breaks, and going for longer hikes on the weekends. Take the time to absorb the energy from the trees and plants, notice what is around you, and keep your head up staring at the horizon. This has helped me reconnect with myself, and has also sparked so many creative ideas.”
—Isabelle Bart, Orange County, CA
Take a tech-free road trip
“We are taking the road less traveled and heading on an RV national and state parks excursion. Many of the places don’t have cell service, which is a true gift! We also brought books for kids and adults alike and have been enjoying some evening reading after s’mores!”
—Caitlin Iseler, founder of happyly, Jackson, WY
Quiet the noise (even while you exercise)
“One change that I have made this summer in order to unplug and take a break from technology is dedicating the time I spend working out entirely to me. I used to listen to music while exercising, but found that it was not actually that relaxing. Instead of spending more time on my phone, I now try to focus on my breathing and listen to the noises outside. During the summer, we are lucky enough to be able to enjoy the outdoors and I really try to take it all in — the feel of the grass, the sounds, and the trees around me. After using different forms of technology all day, this hour or so where I am focusing on my thoughts and trying my best to be present while working out is a great reset. It’s been amazing for my mental health.”
—Ryan Skinner, retirement planning, Woburn, MA
Schedule “white space”
“Being a high-achiever solopreneur can be tough. I hit a wall last week that thankfully only lasted three days. Moving forward, I am carving out three hours each Friday for creation and white space. I am intentionally not planning anything. Instead, I will allow the moment to guide me. I think I’m afraid of being bored, but I will lean into it and take the time to truly recharge.”
—Luisa Molano, transformation and life coach, Denver, CO
Give meditation a try
“The one thing that I have done to unplug and reset during this time has been meditation. This might seem simple to many, but as a person diagnosed with ADHD at the age of six, it’s very difficult to sit still, let alone calm the mind long enough to unplug and reset. First I began journaling, and this exercise alone transformed me. It forced me to rise each morning and write down everything I was grateful for. As for meditation, I started with three-minute bursts and worked my way up to ten minutes each and every morning after my journaling. It’s helped me center my energy, create clarity in my mind, and start the day tech-free. This gives me strength, courage, clarity and sets my expectations.”
—Kristian Livolsi, growth advisor and business coach, Adelaide, SA, Australia
Use your devices to help you unplug
“I am always resistant to adding extra technology into my life, but surprisingly, adopting a ‘kind-of smart’ watch has really helped me unplug! I bought a fitness tracker primarily to count my daily steps, but soon realized there are a couple of added benefits I hadn’t considered. Now, I’m making the effort to do a long walk in the morning with my phone on Do Not Disturb. I am also using the opportunity to listen to books or stories, which is new for me. In addition, the watch has an alarm clock, which means I don’t need to sleep with my phone next to my bed. This helps curb the urge to look at my phone before bed, whenever I can’t sleep, and first thing in the morning.”
—Henna Garrison, life coach, Sicily, Italy
Give yourself a “no to-do list” day
“The first thing I do to unplug is to recognize when I need a break. There’s always something to do and it’s important to give myself time away. I usually schedule a dedicated day for time out — to have no to-do list and just give myself space to relax my mind. I read non-work-related books that calm my mind and smooth over any negative feelings that may have built up. My absolute favorite book of the year is Love for Imperfect Things. Otherwise, I spend some quality time with my family and make time to go for a hike and connect with nature.”
—Karen Chung, CEO and founder of Kossie, Hong Kong
Take a cue from your kids
“I am all geared up to spend lots of time drawing, coloring, and getting lost in the imaginary world with my seven-year-old son. I have in fact already started doing that and I must say that I have been enjoying every bit of this quality time with him. It usually becomes challenging to take such a time-out, but right now, it seems possible. It also brings my childhood alive.”
—Aakriti Agarwal, coach and facilitator, Hyderabad, India
Set boundaries as a family
“As we’ve been working full-time from home and sharing responsibilities for parenting a toddler, my husband and I found ourselves facing burnout after over two months. We were squeezing in working hours whenever we could, which meant sleeping less than usual, working through weekends, and taking no days off. Any time for ‘us’ was spent on the couch, watching Hulu, with our dueling laptops side-by-side. At the end of May, we had a much-needed sit-down to discuss how to improve our quarantine dynamic, and we set a rule that has been lifesaving for our marriage and our mental health. Now, at 5:00 pm every Friday, all screens are turned off and we play music while having a family dance party to signal the start of the weekend. We also agree upon one day each weekend with zero work time for either of us; one day each week during which we are dedicated entirely to each other, our family, and our friends. We feel much more connected to each other since co-creating these strategies with the well-being of our family as the ultimate shared goal.”
—Colleen Kavanagh, Entrepreneur, Boston, MA
How are you planning to unplug and recharge this summer? Share your tip with us in the comments.
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