In our modern age, it is often difficult (if not impossible) to unplug after a day of work. It is so easy to default to mindless scrolling on your phone or surfing the web as a means to unwind. Ironically, doing this causes your body to do the absolute opposite of unwinding. According to a 2016 Harvard Study, blue light from your phone or laptop can cause your body’s biological clock to be thrown out of whack and may even contribute to an increased risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Every so often I like to challenge myself to a 30-day after-work digital detox. I limit myself to only 10 minutes of screen time (outside of office hours). In the past, I have challenged myself to find other things to do to pass the time that doesn’t involve technology at all.
In fact, I have created a list of technology-free activities that you can try on your own digital detox. You’ll have to do some planning ahead to really make this a technology-free month, but once you’re finished you’ll be refreshed, reconnected, and ready to take on anything. Yay self-care!
1. Go for a walk!
Even a short walk around the block can have great health benefits; if you’re really up for a challenge try a hike or a run! Try walking to run an errand instead of driving.
2. Play a board game
You know those old school cardboard games with colorful little pieces we used to play as kids? Challenge your friends or significant other to a game of chess, or Monopoly, or if you’re feeling really daring go for UNO (official rules or not). Just keep it civil, okay!
3. Pick up a book
There are tons of books out there just waiting to be read. Pick up a book and get to reading. Learn something new or check out a book recommended by a friend. Try something from the IndieNext list for some added cool points: https://www.indiebound.org/indie-next-list
4. Clean out your closet
The Marie Kondo trend may have died down a bit, but that’s no reason to skip a good seasonal declutter. Take time to clean out your closet and get rid of anything you haven’t worn in a year. Try selling some of the things you can part with and make this a profitable venture. Order a cleanout kit from Thredup ahead of time and get to cleaning: https://www.thredup.com/order-kit
5. Try a new recipe
With technology at your beck and call it can be easy to fall into a rut of UberEat or Postmate dinners. Not this month! Try a new recipe or even plan to learn a family recipe from the go-to cook in your family.
6. Try your hand at gardening
Don’t think you have a green thumb? Think again! Gardening is easier than ever with tons of great seed kits on the market. Pick up a terrarium kit or kitchen herb kit and get to growing. Target stocks seasonal kits for a low as $5. Grab a couple and give it a go!
7. Plan a picnic
Grab a friend or two and plan a nice picnic in the park (or if you’re lucky by the beach). Just be sure to pack picnic friendly foods and don’t forget the blanket!
Help out at a local non-profit. Spend a day serving at a food bank or planting trees. Find a local non-profit near you: https://www.volunteermatch.org/
9. Get in touch with your creative side
When we were kids we didn’t hesitate to pull out crayons or paint and express ourselves when we were bored. This month, take some time to get creative! Play with chalk, buy a coloring book, or if you really want to make a night of it try a PaintNite: https://www.yaymaker.com/story/original-paint-nite
10. Visit a local attraction
Several years ago I met someone from another country who was totally stoked to visit a local attraction I had never been to myself. Since then I have discovered tons of other niche museums and roadside attractions within miles of my hometown. Ask around and take some time to visit a local attraction near you.
11. Learn about your family history
Visit your oldest family member and ask them about their parents and grandparents. You’ll want to write this down. We often take for granted the family history and stories out there and it’s always good to know where you come from.
12. Try a sport!
Or rediscover one you used to love. When I was a child I played tons of sports but I haven’t set foot on a court or field since I became an adult. Now is the time to give it a go. It’s great exercise and lots of fun!
13. Create an at-home spa
Relax and unwind in a way that won’t keep you up at night. Take some time to remove your makeup, light a candle, and apply a face mask. If you really want to go all out add a hair mask and foot treatment as well. Not your sort of thing? Try some aromatherapy while you read that book from option 3.
14. Plan ahead
So often we forget to take time for planning. What are your goals for the next 6 months, year, five years, ten years? Take some time and create a big picture goal. Brainstorm the steps you need to get there. When you’re done hang it somewhere you can see it for inspiration.
15. Make a vision board
Still on a planning kick? Find some old magazines and scrap paper and create a vision board for your dream life. Multi-billion dollar home and Idris Elba as your husband? Put it on the board girl, it’s your dream!
16. Get to know your neighbors
Take some time and get to know the people around you. Now that you don’t have your phone in your face stop and say hi while you walk by. Who knows, you may just find your new best friend!
17. Visit your local library
Take some time and check out your local library. There are tons of free activities for children and adults! Learn a new language, join a book club, sit in for an author talk, and get some free knowledge!
18. Catch up with an old friend
It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of your day. Take some time and schedule a coffee date with a friend or family member you haven’t seen in a while.
19. Go window shopping!
Leave your money at home so you’re not tempted to buy anything (we just cleaned out our closet remember?) and check out some of your favorite stores. If you really love something you can always go back to pick it up later. For now, take some time to really consider what’s out there. Be sure to take time to try things on while you’re at it…
20. Be a supermodel!
Find the most ridiculous things you can find and try them on. No need to actually take pictures, but do not hesitate to pose in the mirror. This act of silliness is even better with a friend. Pick clothes for each other and have fun!
21. Go camping
Traditionally, camping is a technology-free activity to begin with. Getting in touch with nature may be just the thing you need to regroup and refocus. Not into the whole roughing it in the woods thing? Pitch a tent in your backyard (or living room) and fake it.
Find a local karaoke spot and check it out! Even if you’re not up for singing, just watching is an activity itself.
23. Collect your coins and cash them out!
On average, each American household has $68 or more in loose change laying around and it is estimated that the country as a whole loses over $62 million each year in change. Take the time to find all your loose coins and cash it in for folding money! While you’re at it you might just find some other misplaced items.
24. Plan a cookout
Summer is the perfect time to get a group of friends together and BBQ. Get your favorite people in one spot and enjoy a nice burger or veggie skewer. Make it a potluck style get together and share some of your favorite meals.
25. Build a puzzle
Be honest, when was the last time you built a puzzle? Solving a jigsaw puzzle is such a great cognitive activity and it boosts your brain! Find a puzzle that will be a challenge for you and take some time to solve it.
26. Start a journal
Journaling is a great way to reflect on your day and really discover who you are as a person. Journal about your day. Or consider starting a work journal! Tracking all of your projects and areas for improvement is a great way to really focus your career in a direction you’ll love!
27. Attend a networking event
Find a local professional group in your field of work and mark your calendar for their next event. Without your phone, you will have to engage with other people. Be sure to take business cards and perfect your elevator pitch.
28. Watch a local sporting event
Check out the schedule for your local team and plan on supporting them for one day. Think you’re not into sports. Try it anyways! Who knows? Maybe you’ll become a fan!
29. Rearrange your furniture
It’s amazing how refreshing a change of scenery can be. Not ready to redecorate the whole house? Try shifting things around. For months I thought my bedroom was too small and a simple shift of furniture has completely changed my outlook on the room. It’s my favorite room in the house now. Take time to perfect your space!
30. Visit a neighboring town
Check out a nearby town. Visit a few shops. Try a local coffee spot. Get a new outlook on life. A far off vacation is a great change of pace but you can get a taste of the same feeling by simply driving a few miles out of town.
Ready to take the plunge and start your 30 days of digital detox self care? Even if you just selected two or three options from the 30 listed, you would be well on your way to thinking and feeling differently about your personal time and self care routine.
Content courtesy of Ashley Marie Mireles, publishing professional based in California.
Contributing Author, Ashley Marie Mireles
Ashley Marie Mireles was born and raised in the heart of California’s Central Valley where, as a child, she spent much of her time in her local library. Her love of books lead her to a career in the publishing industry. Ashley loves to travel, try new foods, read, and learn the choreography from her favorite music videos as a form of exercise. She currently lives in Fresno, California, with her boyfriend of six years and their rescue pitbull.