With ‘I Am Whole’s Digital Detox Day earlier this month and mental wellness online being a growing conversation in lingering pandemic times, spending time offline can feel necessary and simultaneously overwhelming when we’re all racking up hours and hours of screentime.
Sometimes when we think about wanting to spend more time offline, the biggest question is ‘what would I do instead?’ – in theory you could fill the time you’d usually spend procrastinating and get more work done, clean the house properly or do all the decluttering and organising that always gets put off, but if we’re thinking about mental wellness and wanting to really relax without putting the pressure on productivity, it’s a different kind of spending time offline.
Here are a few of the things I do to help me feel more present and stop reaching for my phone!
- turn it onto silent mode – it sounds silly, but if I turn off the sounds and the vibrations and turn it upside down and put it out of sight it’s much easier not to think about it because the notifications aren’t intrusive. Whether I want to get some focused work done or spend some dedicated time in the moment with friends or family, getting rid of invasive notifications really helps.
- tactile hobbies for evening TV viewing – if you find you can’t just watch a TV show and you just can’t concentrate without doing something with your hands, take up an offline hobby! I’m a fan of knitting because at the moment I’m just doing rows and rows of the same thing and I can do it without really thinking, but something like colouring would be great or even a fidget toy can keep your hands busy without scrolling through instagram.
- go for a tech free walk – the concept of leaving the house without a phone can be daunting, I know that I as a woman don’t feel particularly safe in my area on my own, but even if it’s listening to a podcast and walking or being with someone and leaving your phones in your pockets, being present especially in nature can be so beautiful. Even walking somewhere more industrial or suburban can be wonderful – people watching is always fun!
- use ‘zen mode’ – my phone has an app or a mode or something where it essentially becomes a brick for an hour; it doesn’t give you any notifications, I don’t think it’ll even let you unlock it (except for emergencies) and having that dedicated tech free time can be useful in a work environment but also when you want to spend time with people and not be checking your phone. There’s plenty of apps that do this too, I remember one people used when I was in Sixth Form was one where you would grow a tree the longer you didn’t touch your phone and it would get chopped down if you closed the app. Whatever the theme or how it works, having time where your phone literally won’t let you in can be helpful.
- spend time journalling or reading – I’m all about the pen and paper and I’ll always suggesting writing things down or making a list if you feel overwhelmed, but thinking about wanting to spend time offline and being more present, journalling is a great way to physically anchor yourself to a moment (however pretentious that sounds) – there are loads of prompts online or you can even buy premade journals with the prompts written in, but I think it’s a great activity both for mental health and getting offline. And I’ll always suggest reading! Getting lost in a good story, especially if you can sit outside and get some fresh air too is always a lovely way to spend an afternoon!
- dedicate more time to cooking – whether it’s learning a new recipe or cooking with a new ingredient, I find time in the kitchen is a great way to do something offline, especially if you live with other people – kitchen catch ups are a great way to debrief at the end of the day and have a bit of social interaction! I find cooking really therapeutic and I know it’s different for everyone, but having something that you’ve made from scratch is so rewarding!
Just a few ideas of things that work for me! I definitely need to work on scheduling more phone-free relaxation into my week but it’s all a learning curve I guess!
Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!