Putting down our phones isn’t easy. It doesn’t matter where we are. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing. It’s hard not to scroll or refresh or reply. These days I find myself reaching for my phone A LOT. I think part of the reason is that the more I turn to my phone, the more I’ll turn to my phone. Because I’ve created a habit.
Even though smartphones are amazing, I don’t want to be shackled to one. And that’s really the problem: Many of us are handcuffed to our phones. It’s like we’ve resigned ourselves to the idea that this is simply how it is, that we are powerless, that we are without choice to do anything else.
To stop reaching for our phones like a reflex, author and spokesperson for the National Day of Unplugging Christina Crook suggested finding a new home for our devices (outside the bedroom); turning off push notifications; and identifying what matters most to us.
There are so many wonderful things we can do when we put down our devices. Last week I shared 50 things we can do when we unplug, whether it’s for a few minutes or an entire day. Below are 50 more things. Because the options really are limitless.
- Run around outside, and play tag.
- Look into a hobby you think you’d be terrible at or would be a waste of time. Sewing. Singing. Ballroom dancing.
- Start working on your own field guide about anything. Butterflies. Birds. Bread (really anything).
- Every day, aim to learn about one new thing.
- Snap a picture of the morning sky.
- Do a small science experiment on your own or with kids.
- Look out the window.
- Write about something or someone that saved you during a difficult time.
- Close your eyes, and scan your body, from head to toe, for any tension.
- Create and practice small, special, nourishing rituals throughout the day. Maybe in the morning, you sip your tea while journaling. Maybe at lunch, you jot down what your five senses are experiencing. Maybe at night, you light a candle, and say a prayer.
- Learn one word from a different language every day or every week.
- Simplify one thing that you’ve been complicating.
- Where you put your phone, place a book instead.
- Look into your eyes, and draw them. (We can reconnect to ourselves in the smallest ways.)
- Notice the subtleties in your environment—the pastel colors of early spring, the scent of fresh laundry, laughter in the distance.
- Browse a used bookshop.
- Look up more often. Start with the moon.
- Go around the dinner table and chat about the best or funniest or sweetest or hardest part of your day.
- Feel a feeling you’ve been too “busy” to feel (i.e., you’ve been avoiding it, because it hurts, which is how you found yourself scrolling and refreshing more and more often). Give yourself a few minutes to tune into the physical sensations of that feeling, to take deep breaths. Give yourself a few minutes to write down anything you want to write down (or not).
- Write thank-you cards.
- Bake brownies.
- Observe how people talk and walk and act and hold their silverware. Channel those idiosyncrasies into a new character (and a new story).
- Smell the rain—and write about it.
- Capture your day with art. As Kelly said, “I put together a new image (abstract or realistic) on a small 4 x 6 inch card that represents the day. On the flip side of the card, I write the date and usually write a response reflecting on the day or the image I just created.” Watch this video of Kelly creating an entry.
- Plan out your week, and add a few fun activities to your schedule. In pen.
- Draw what your meal tastes like.
- Take 5 minutes to invent your own comic strip—from the early 20th century.
- Listen to the noises all around you.
- Make a list of what makes you smile.
- Find a beautiful object on your walk.
- Write a silly haiku.
- While waiting in line, start a conversation with someone behind you or in front of you. Start a conversation with the cashier, and thank them for their help.
- While waiting in line, take a moment to check in with what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling.
- Take photos with a disposable camera and get the film developed.
- Doodle what comes to mind for the following words: stillness; darkness; love; laughter; joy; spring.
- Write a poem about your partner’s eyes.
- As you’re eating each bite of your meal, think about how you’d describe the flavors to someone who’s lost their taste buds.
- Write about what happens at night when everyone goes to sleep, and the toys wake up.
- Play hangman with a friend.
- Jot down a few words of support for yourself to help with something you’re struggling with.
- Do the same for someone else (maybe leave a sticky note at a restaurant bathroom, at the park, at the store, at the hospital).
- Study your loved one’s faces as if you’re painting portraits of them (and maybe do).
- As you wake up, jot down your dreams.
- As you wake up, set an intention for the day.
- As you wake up, stretch your body.
- As you wake up, ask yourself what you’d like to do today, how you’d like to feel, who you’d like to connect with.
- Study a small object.
- Every day, notice something different about where you work or where you live.
- When you’re cooking, use all your senses to make it into a truly creative experience. As creativity coach Cynthia Morris told me, food is “the highest art.”
- Start a tiny project.
Often when we unplug, time slows down, schedules open up, and our senses grow sharper. Because our attention isn’t being torn and fractured. We’re able to focus on what’s in front of us. We’re able to explore, and to examine, and to savor. What do you want to explore, examine and savor? How would you like to spend your extra minutes?
Ultimately, the key is to reflect on your relationship to your digital devices. Is it aligned with your values, or not? Are you happy with how “connected” you are? Would you rather be connected to something or someone else?