It's not a secret that most of us are connected virtually 24/7. Between our phones, tablets, and laptops, our streaming video, text messages, social media sites and the approximately 1 million news and weather alerts we get on our phones each day, being connected can sometimes be overwhelming. So, if it's time for a digital detox day, hour, week or weekend, try these five ways to unplug from technology and give yourself a break:
Go to a bookstore and browse – then buy a book, take it to your favorite spot and read for an hour or two – all without phone.
Leave your phone at home whenever you go out with friends and family. This way, you can concentrate on the people you're with and won't default to checking your phone every five minutes, taking pictures of your food, or recording moments digitally, when you should be participating in them.
Make a house rule that all phones (and devices, for that matter) are to be deposited in your entry hall and silenced by 7 p.m. each and every day. That way, when you're home, you'll be free to pay more attention to those you're home with. (Exceptions can be made for times of work or life crisis, but shouldn't be the norm.)
Choose a friend you don't see regularly and plan with him/her to start writing letters (ACTUAL PAPER LETTERS) weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Buy some nice stationery, a good pen, and stamps, and rediscover the pleasure of sending and receiving actual letters.
For a digital detox weekend, head out of town and intentionally leave your phone at home. Spend time exploring the city (or the countryside) the old-fashioned way and let life take you where it may.
As you take these moments, days or weekends as a digital detox, you'll notice that even though you'll continue to use your smartphone for work and play, you will gradually become less reliant on it for literally EVERYTHING in your life. It will no longer be a default action to check your social media accounts because you're bored. Instead, you'll branch out. Perhaps you'll pick up a magazine, talk face-to-face with someone, play a board game with your family, or go for a hike and simply follow the trails – rather than your map app – and experience the world in a more balanced way. Of course, there's nothing wrong with being connected, but when it's your default, and/or you're starting to feel disconnected from your life, the benefits of a digital detox, even a short one, can be enormous.