March 3 is National Unplug Day, a day when we should put our phones down, stop checking social media, and relax without screens and electronics. It’s tough, because gadgets make our day easier between making plans with friends, checking the weather, getting important messages, and scheduling appointments. But going screen free for a day won’t hurt you - and it can even help you sleep better. Our unplug tips will have you resting better, stressing less, and getting more done, and you can take advantage of them any time you’re feeling overwhelmed by technology. Why not make it an unplugged weekend to try out all of our tips and find what works for you?
How to Unplug
1. Turn on Airplane Mode: If you can’t go all day without checking your devices, try to schedule designated hours to unplug, and put your phone on airplane mode during this time. Knowing that your phone isn’t about to ring or beep will allow you to relax and do something else.
2. Reduce Social Media: Start a social media detox and turn off your push notifications on your phone or tablet. You can even download apps to block social media applications during set hours, if you need the extra accountability. Try apps like Offtime (for iOS and Android), ClearLock (for Android) or BreakFree (for iOS and Android) to help curb your distractions on screen. Download ColdTurkey for Windows to use on your desktop or laptop!
3. Designate Screen Free Zones: Make a household rule that the dinner table is a screen-free zone, or a certain period of time in the evening is for screen-free activities. It will be a hard transition at first but after some practice, leaving the screens behind will be second nature. You’ll love the more engaged dinner conversation!
1. Take a Walk: Going for an afternoon or early evening walk can help you stay refreshed and energized for the day’s activities, and getting some exercise will also help you sleep better at night. Pack up the kids and the family dog and take a couple laps around the block today to tire everyone out (leave your phone on airplane mode).
2. Get a Library Card: Visit your local library and check out their schedule of events for the month. There’s almost always something interesting - and free! - for all ages. Sign up for a reading circle so your younger kids have a scheduled “unplugged” activity or take advantage of a basic art class or book club. Let each family member pick out a new book and make library day a part of your regular routine!
3. Cook a Meal: Cook a meal from scratch using a paper cookbook (yes, they still exist!) from the library or buried on your bookshelf. Invite your friends over for a screen-free potluck or simply enjoy an unplugged dinner with your family.
4. Read a Book: Do you love to read but never seem to find the time? Spend an hour curled up with your favorite novel and a hot cup of tea. Enjoy the smell, feel, and reduced eye strain of a paper book when you leave the e-reader on the shelf.
5. Soak in a Bath: Enjoy a warm bath an hour before bed for a relaxing soak (maybe add some aromatherapy bath oils too!). You’ll get sleepy and can transition into your bedtime routine with less stress.
Unplug for Healthier Sleep
1. Make the Bedroom a Screen-Free Zone: Easier said than done, we know. If you check your electronics at the door, you’ll have a much easier time falling asleep and staying asleep without the distraction of your phone or tablet on your bedside table.
2. Go Retro With a Traditional Alarm Clock: If you normally use your cell phone as an alarm clock, keeping the bedroom screen-free seems impossible. Make every day Throwback Thursday when you dig out your old alarm clock. The same goes for your smartwatch. Turn off notifications for bedtime or keep it out of the bedroom entirely!
3. Unplug Before Bedtime: The blue light emitted by your electronics can impact your body’s production of melatonin, the sleep hormone that maintains your circadian rhythm. To avoid impacting your sleep cycle negatively, turn off the electronics at least an hour or two before bed. Use a Do Not Disturb feature or app so that late-night emails and text alerts don’t wake you.
Regular practice will help you reduce your screen-time habit. Spend the weekend trying out these tips and let us know your favorites! How are you going to unplug today and beyond?