At the risk of sounding like a technophobic caveman, sometimes all my cords can feel like a ball and chain. I have to charge my phone and my laptop, keeping me stationary if I want to ingest a steady stream of social media posts. And what if someone emails me something urgent? I have to be powered up to respond. I use my GPS to drive to the post office a couple blocks away, and I read all my favorite books on a tablet. If I didn’t have access to technology, would I have anything to do?
Maybe losing your internet connection would make for one of your most boring days. Or maybe, if you planned days without Wi-Fi and filled them with other fulfilling activities, it would be equally as valuable as your time online. Would you try committing to an “unplug” day once a week? What about once a month? While technology is amazing, you might be surprised what a day off can do for you. Here are a few benefits of an unplug day.
Build Interpersonal Relationships
I won’t be one to tell you that your online relationships aren’t real or special; they matter. But I can tell you that even with dozens of online friends, life can feel lonely. “Real life” relationships are more convenient — it’s less stressful to have a hangout that doesn’t depend on Wi-Fi connection. You aren’t worried about whether your app will pull through so you can watch another episode with your online friend or whether they’ll see your text in the next hour.
With someone physically there, you can go wherever you want with them. It makes your world feel bigger.
Take classes and join local clubs. Ask your “real life” friends and family if they want to go for a walk, take a hike, or cook lunch. These activities alone could take up hours of your unplug day, and it would be worth it.
Get More Creative
For most people, creativity has plenty of digital outlets. You can draw, write, and make music on your laptop. But using technology for art has a vice: it’s also a tool for procrastination. You open your new file and then check back on another tab. And you stay on that other tab. Until the sun goes down.
When you unplug, you minimize distractions so you can make your art. If your skills absolutely require digital assets, consider turning your Wi-Fi off and setting your phone in Airplane mode. Even if you listen to music that requires Wi-Fi or browse references on the internet, an unplug day can be a good way to challenge you to create differently.
You’ve heard this a million times from tech-averse parents and supervisors. Being outside isn’t the balm to heal all wounds as many of them might claim. But it is a balm to heal many wounds.
When you’re outside, you can soak up the natural nutrition of the sun and plants. Everything from fresh air to dirt has been shown to have a positive effect on the mind.
A diet of recirculated air isn’t great for your skin or hair. I’ve noticed when I stay inside for a whole weekend, I look like I spent a couple of days in my grave. I don’t feel so great and don’t look so great.
On an unplug day, go explore. Seeing new things will keep depression at bay.
Reflect on Yourself
You deserve quiet moments to yourself. Not for the purpose of building your personal brand, but simply to give yourself the comfort and confidence of knowing yourself.
What do you think when there’s no noise to distract you? What does that say about yourself? An unplug day can be a good time for a mental check-in. With all the distraction and noise of technology, we sometimes distance ourselves from our mental health; we don’t even know if we’ve gotten better or worse. If you realize you’re miserable when you unplug, it might be a signal you need to change.
Try unplugging once a month and see how it makes you feel. It’s nearly impossible to completely detach from technology, but you owe it to your mental and physical health to try from time to time.