A woman in tights and socks sitting on a couch reading

I know I’m not the only one: These conversations about living in an online world are just exhausting. We don’t want to always make social media or access to information the bad guys of the story, but we can’t seem to ignore its negative effects on our mental health or our ability to stay present. I don’t have to detail how addicted we really are.

Is tossing out our smartphones the only option? Is it even an option, considering their tools that inarguably make life easier and much of our work depends on them?

It seems balance is the only real, lasting solution. Balance, the magic word, the seemingly unattainable and elusive thing that unlocks it all. Trying to live balanced can feel exhausting too, but it’s worth fighting for. Balance, with boundaries, is possible. It’s the priority on balance that will ultimately ensure we remain in control of how much we scroll—not the other way around. 

Balance, with boundaries, is possible.

Imagine with me for a moment: Your work day has come to an end or the weekend has finally arrived. Work has finished, and although the emails may still be flooding in or your work buddy texts you about a project, you’re no longer on the clock. Often, in order to “unplug” from work, you numb yourself by binge-watching on Netflix, diving deep into Instagram’s explore page (enter thought: how did I even end up here?) or scrolling through someone’s Twitter rant.

What you were hoping would relax you has instead left you restless, your cup emptier than you found it. What you really need is a moment to disconnect, to unplug and take a momentary vacation from online immersion to find some peace of mind.

Balance isn’t really a new idea, but we all need to be reminded once in a while of what we already know to be true. Create some boundaries with that phone in your hand and find the mental break you need. Here are four simple ideas for disconnecting during your non-work hours:

1. Take a break from social media on the weekends

Sometimes, what you don’t know won’t kill you. This isn’t an excuse to stick your head in the sand, but a reminder that everyone, and I mean everyone (yes, you!) needs to look up and step away from the constant stream of information. You can’t solve all the problems of the world on an empty (or cynical) tank. Take a weekend off, laugh with friends, get outside, and notice all of the beauty around you!

2. Utilize the iPhone “Time Limits” feature

Perhaps Apple is on to the need for balance too. You’d be amazed to know how much time you spend on your phone. (It’s one of those real eye openers!) Set time limits to the apps on your phone that take too much attention or the ones with which you struggle to control yourself. An hour to peruse Instagram or the news app may be all the time you really need, preserving the rest of your evening or weekend to enjoy real life!

3. Get an alarm clock

Starting the day on your phone is asking to start the day in stress. Why pile on the worry or FOMO before you’ve even had your morning coffee or brushed your teeth? Charge your phone or turn it off in another room at night and wake up instead to an alarm clock. Create a morning routine you look forward to, and don’t turn your phone on until it’s done! Perhaps without the distraction, you’ll finally have time for some yoga, journaling or *gasp* breakfast.

4. Take a walk without your phone

Isn’t it funny to think “taking a walk” is something we need reminding of? This is not rocket science people. Go on a walk. Whether it’s in a familiar place, a public park or around your neighborhood, all that matters is that you leave your phone at home. Moving your body, getting some fresh air, observing things around you and processing your feelings will remind you that no matter what happened that day, the world still spins on an axis and life goes on. While you walk, take note of what you’re grateful for, and smile at those you walk past. It’s all going to be okay, and your phone will rarely, if ever, remind you of that fact.

In the hurry of life, the responsibilities of our jobs, and the pressure to remain ahead, what we don’t need is more information. What we need is a break for our eyes, our minds and our hearts: to remind ourselves that outside of the great big world at our fingertips is the one life we’ve been given.

How do you disconnect when you are off the clock? Have you noticed a difference when you are completely off the grid?

Images via Corbin Gurkin,Darling Issue No. 2

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