5 Reasons to Unplug This Summer

5 Reasons to Unplug This Summer

Staying home this year doesn’t mean you can’t get away from it all for a while

To say that 2020 has been a challenging year would be an understatement. Crisis followed by crisis, combined with uncertainty, inequality, and anger have led us to feel less like “we’re all in this together” and more as if we’re experiencing a collective trauma. 

Working from home while balancing other responsibilities such as childcare and homeschooling has made it particularly hard to disconnect this year. Then there’s the constant doomscrolling that only feeds our anxiety.

Summer is usually a time when we can slow down and enjoy long, carefree days with friends and family. But chances are you feel about as far from carefree as you can get right now. Strained relationships after months under the same roof and feeling under pressure to “catch up” on work don’t help. What’s the point of taking a vacation anyway? It’s not like you can go anywhere!

But despite what you may be thinking, we believe it’s never been as important to take some time out. At Freedom, we’ve long preached the importance of getting adequate rest in order to take on life’s daily challenges, and with the added stresses of today’s world, you need to be doubling down on your self-care right now.

That’s why we’re supporting the Global Day of Unplugging on August 1st. This isn’t just a regular digital detox. It’s a call to illuminate our relationship with technology and pledge to plug into whatever lights up our lives — creativity, love, introspection, or something else. The main thing is that you simply pledge to be present by spending time away from your mobile devices and giving your attention to people or other activities. Think of this day as a way to reset your relationship with tech, reevaluate what’s most important right now, and rediscover a little bit of that summer feeling.

Need more convincing? Here are 5 reasons why unplugging is the best thing you and your family can do this summer:

Calm anxiety and fear

We know it’s hard right now, but being constantly plugged into the news is not going to make you feel better. However, putting some boundaries in place and making a conscious decision about your media consumption can have a huge positive impact on your mental health. It’s not easy – news is like digital candy being dispensed 24 hours a day – so it’s helpful to create a plan beforehand to control how much you consume. With your plan in place, you can use the Global Day of Unplugging to kick-start your new, healthier relationship with the news.

We know that being without a phone can be anxiety-inducing on its own, which is why we recommend Brick Mode. This quick hack for your iPhone lets you set up auto-replies to messages for times when you’re going phone-free. Anyone who texts you will get a reply saying you’re enjoying some time off your phone – and that you’re not ignoring them. 

Image via Brick Mode

Strengthen Relationships

It’s likely (and normal!) that tensions may have risen among those you’ve been sheltering-in-place with. And even if everyone’s managed to keep their cool, it’s probably not wrong to assume that each member of the household can be found glued to a different device for a large chunk of the day. 

Whether you live with your kids, partner, roommates, or alone – there’s plenty to be gained from being truly present in those moments you’re engaging with each other. Simple things like putting phones away when having a movie night, or calling a friend on the phone instead of group Zooms can make you feel so much more connected. Less time staring at screens also means more eye contact, which makes us much more likely to remember details about others and engage in selfless, altruistic behavior.

Boost Creativity and Focus

Do you feel like you’re working more than ever but getting less and less done? Part of the reason your day may feel “chopped up” right now could be due to certain unavoidable tasks: homeschooling, or looking after dependents, for example. 

Digital distractions, on the other hand, are easily eliminated once you make it a habit. Eliminating distracting websites is the obvious solution, but our top tip for maximum focus is to combine a digital detox with other time management methods like the Pomodoro technique or time-blocking. This will ensure that those times when you actually do get to sit down at your desk will be dedicated solely to what you want to achieve. 

You might even experience productivity’s greatest reward – that elusive rush of joy! Once you make a digital lockdown part of your daily routine, it will become easier and easier to get your work done. You’ll probably discover you’ve more time on your hands too!

Setting yourself some clear boundaries when it comes to tech and media use can help you find space for the things that matter most right now. 

Sleep Better

It’s the number one way to improved health, happiness, and productivity, so why do so many of us neglect this magical wonder cure? Getting sleep can be hard for some of us even when the world’s not in crisis. Everyday worries, endless to-do lists, and work-related stress keep many of us tossing and turning. Add in the extra anxieties brought on by a global pandemic, recession, and political unrest, along with the constant drip of bad news, conspiracy theories, and social media FOMO coming from blue light-emitting devices, and it’s a wonder any of us have slept at all in the last 6 months! 

The importance of prioritizing sleep at this time should not be underestimated. Not only does sleep boost our immune system making us less vulnerable to infectious diseases, but research has shown that without sleep, the emotional centers of our brains dramatically overreact to bad experiences. 

Banning tech from the bedroom is the quickest way to keep your devices from interfering with precious rest-time. But it may not be practical for everyone in these anxiety-inducing times. Instead, try setting an alarm for a certain time (at least half an hour before bedtime) to remind you to wind down and stop using your phone. Put it on charge in a dedicated place away from your bed, grab a book, try a guided meditation, or some simple bedtime stretching.

Photo by Hybrid on Unsplash

Shift Your Perspective

Stepping back from any kind of situation is a time-tested method for gaining a fresh outlook. You needn’t bury your head in the sand about current events. But setting yourself some clear boundaries when it comes to tech and media use can help you find space for the things that matter most right now. 

Enjoying moments with loved ones, practicing gratitude, exercising outdoors, cooking a good meal. These are the things that will help you build resilience in the long run. You’ll also find the mind works so much better when you give it a little quiet time. In fact, you may even find yourself with a renewed sense of positivity and ideas of how you can help others!

Being consistently kind to yourself is also the most effective way to ensure you can take care of others. So don’t succumb to the pressure to be “always-on”. We’re living in a world where we will spend more than 7 years of our lives behind screens. Affording yourself the luxury of 24 unplugged hours this summer isn’t too much to ask, is it? 

To join people across the world on August 1-2, 2020 for 24 hours of collective presence, take the pledge.

Learn more about Global Day of Unplugging

Read our interview with #HalfTheStory founder Larissa May

Read more advice on Finding Focus in Uncertain Times

Access our Free Work-From-Home Resources