Wellness

illustration of a woman holding a book

Illustration courtesy of Louisa Cannell

12 Ways to Unplug When You’re Sick of Screen Time but Can’t Quit It

Part of us wants to toss our phone and computer out the window (but of course we won’t), and part of us never wants to do a video call again (but of course we’re FaceTiming Mom tonight). So we’re starting small to find some reprieve from the screen, and we’re amplifying the good analog stuff. The goal of a digital reset isn’t merely about cutting down on screen time. Your mental cleanse might be about building a routine that works better for you, carving out moments of mindfulness, or simply using downtime for rewarding and relaxing pleasures, like classic board games, a cozy blanket, and a hot bath.

  1. 1

    THE WRITE STUFF

    We’ve written about how writing lists has some stress-relieving benefits: Putting thoughts down on paper is arguably the most natural way to unclog our minds. While free-form journaling might seem daunting to people who aren’t writers, this journal takes only five minutes a day and doesn’t require complete sentences. Instead, there are writing prompts that ask what brought you joy and purpose each day. We like that it’s focused on gratitude and seeing the bright side of things.

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  2. 2

    VERY PIECEFUL

    Nothing beats busting out a nostalgic board game, especially one where the point of the game is based on pure luck over strategy. There’s no need for any plotting in Candy Land—remember the ice cream card? Also: There are some really attractive, fancy, and Instagrammable versions out there. This vintage edition is particularly charming—it comes in a linen-bound book with vintage cards and all the classic game pieces.

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  3. 3

    air control

    The power of breathing is vast, yet most of us don’t pay enough attention to our breath. Inspired by Komuso monks in Japan, the Shift is a mindfulness tool that forces you to take long, purposeful breaths to help bring you back into awareness and control. Take a deep belly breath through your nose, pause, then gently exhale through the necklace for eight to ten seconds. Try the cycle five times and notice how grounded you feel.

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  4. 4

    flower power

    Why is caring for an orchid gratifying even though it’s easy? We’re not sure, but we love this small guy. The Phalaenopsis orchid typically blooms every year for three months at a time. That might seem high-maintenance—why care for a plant outside of a blooming cycle?—but it’s a graceful process to watch unfold, and it always feels like another gift when the flowers return.

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  5. 5

    double duty

    Everything about our devices is designed to keep us hooked, including the colorful screens and bright blue light that they emit. Blue light keeps us awake and penetrates our eyes; it’s not all bad, but we tend to get more of it than we need. Using a screen protector is a low-lift way to add a little more protection, and this glass one doubles as a physical barrier for smudges and germs.

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  6. 6

    full sleep ahead

    A weighted blanket can help promote a deep relaxation that feels like getting a firm hug. They typically come in different weights, so according to Baloo, it’s best to choose one that’s 8 to 12 percent of your body weight. It shouldn’t feel like a coffin, but it should feel secure. And if getting a good night’s rest is the reason you’re offline, we are here for it.

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  7. 7

    try tarot

    Turn off the notifications and, instead, turn inward. Using a tarot deck can help you think differently about a situation. Some people like to pull a single card every day, and learning how to interpret the deck’s messages and meanings just might be a skill you share with friends one day.

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  8. 8

    stay glassy

    Blue-light-blocking glasses might seem dorky, but the ones from Felix Gray are handsome enough to wear every day. And when you must be online, the antiglare coating also cuts down eye strain. Detox tip: Schedule specific times throughout the day reserved for checking your phone so you break out of reflexive urges.

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  9. 9

    mind down

    Create a nightly wind-down routine where your devices get powered off or put into do not disturb at a certain time every evening. Then leave them in a different room. The point is to physically and emotionally give yourself some distance. Having something else to do, such as a meditation practice, can give you extra incentive for shutting down.

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  10. 10

    eye support

    As noted by the American Optometric Association and our science and research team at goop, lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that help keep our eyes healthy. You can find them in leafy green vegetables, eggs, and this vitamin regimen that was designed for metabolism support.

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  11. 11

    SOAK IT UP

    Up your bath game by adding crystals, candles, and a scoop from one of these miracle-working bags of salt. Each formula is blended with a detoxifying combo of essential oils and botanicals, like valerian root and papaya seed, making every bath feel like you’ve transported to a world-class spa. Normally, we’d say pick one (the charcoal and clay in the G.Tox soak is a crowd favorite), but why not try all three? You’ve got time to spare.

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  12. 12

    go big

    What complements downtime better than a classic strategy game? An oversize chess set brings hours of family fun and some exercise to boot.

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