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10.18.2016

Healthy activities for when you need to unplug

For most of us, technology and devices are a major part of our daily lives. In today’s on-the-go, multi-tasking society, mobile devices like cell phones and tablets tend to be the most prevalent, however televisions, computers, fitness trackers and others all pop up frequently. While technology offers us many benefits and enables us to easily connect with people all over the world, it is also quite addicting, often at a cost. From missing out on face to face conversations to feeling frazzled to getting lost down an internet rabbit hole for more time than you would ever admit, there are many reasons to intentionally disconnect from time to time.

If you’re unable to leave your devices in your pocket or bag, or even walk away from your gadgets, here are a few tips to try:

  • Switch your phone or tablet to airplane mode, which means you can still listen to music, but won’t be interrupted or tempted to log onto Facebook.
  • Give your device to a trusted friend or family member to hold onto for a few hours or a day. They will let you know if any urgent calls or texts come in during your hiatus.
  • Create tech-free zones in your house and stick to it. Pick a drawer or other out-of-sight place to stash your phone, and enjoy the peace and quiet.
  • Leave your phone at home if you can, or at least in the car when you arrive at your destination. It’s accessible if needed, but won’t be as tempting as if it was in your bag or pocket.

So you’ve taken steps to power down, but now what? Many of us are so used to turning to our phones or other devices multiple times an hour, it can be hard to think of how to fill the time when we don’t have that option. Scary, right? Here are a few fun and healthy ideas to help refocus your mind, stretch your legs and truly power down:

  • Get moving (outside) – whether you go for a walk or run or hike or bike, take the time to enjoy your surroundings. Breathe in the fresh air, listen to the sounds of the environment, and take a good look at the sights. It will help you feel more connected and refreshed.
  • Try yoga or meditating – Both activities can help you feel calmer and more centered. Some people also advocate for meditating while running if you are looking to take either to the next level.
  • Spend time in your backyard – Whether you enjoy gardening, puttering in the garage, reading in a hammock or on the deck (with a real book!), or grilling a healthy meal, giving yourself permission to truly enjoy and lose yourself in that activity will do wonders for your mental and even physical well-being.
  • Float along – For many people, there is something very therapeutic and calming about spending time on the water. Rent a canoe or kayak or even try fishing.
  • Peruse the farmers’ market – This is a great chance to get ideas for new healthy recipes – and instead of checking your phone, talk to the vendors or fellow shoppers!

And if you need a bit of help coming up with ideas (and someone to keep you away from your phone), adult summer camps are popping up across the country to help people detox from technology while reconnecting with the outdoors.

Unplugging has many benefits on its own, such as reducing your stress and helping you focus, but swapping screen time for a healthy activity can maximize those benefits. Try powering down for a few hours this weekend to find out for yourself!

If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our EAP+Work/Life Program or the wellness coaching component of our Wellness Program, contact a Licensed Professional Counselor, work/life specialist or Wellness Coach for help reducing your stress or for more suggestions for low-tech, healthy activities.