Between working from home, doomscrolling on Twitter, and binge-watching Netflix until we fall asleep, it seems our eyes are constantly glued to a screen throughout the day. (Guilty as charged!). However, there are some unpleasant side effects associated with too much screen time, including inattentiveness, poor sleep quality, and increased anxiety. That’s why we’ve rounded up seven ideas to unwind that don’t involve screen time, but feel just as relaxing as lounging in bed watching TV! Try them for yourself and see how it feels:
1. Prepare and eat a meal without a screen.
Eating in front of the TV or Netflix definitely tops the list of winding-down activities in our lives, but it can be distracting and even disrupt good eating habits. Enjoying a screen-free meal, on the other hand, may actually prompt you to slow down, eat only until you’re full, and truly savor every texture and flavor of your dish. This is what’s called mindful eating, a great grounding technique that not only promotes enjoying every bite, but also eating for overall wellness of the body and mind.
Photo by The Creative Exchange
2. Read a book.
We know it’s easier said than done — in the age of Instagram, it can be hard to buckle in for stories that don’t disappear after 24 hours. But we promise that reading a real book is as relaxing as it is mentally stimulating, and it offers up mental and physical health benefits to boot. One of those is that reading a physical book reduces stress; just 30 minutes of reading has been studied to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of psychological distress.
3. Find your flow state in a hobby.
Whether you realize it or not, fully engaging in a hobby without distractions is a sort of meditation. From biking to painting to dancing and everything in between, letting your brain immerse itself into one focused activity gives it a reboot and helps clear your mind of negative emotions. Just an hour of participating in a creative or physical hobby can lead to more success and fulfillment throughout the day.
Photo by Russn
4. Immerse yourself in nature.
If you’re lucky enough to live where you can get outside in nature, by all means, do it! Walks on the beach, through the woods, or simply in a neighborhood park will work wonders for winding down your mind. In fact, there’s evidence that being in nature has a profound impact on our brains and behavior by helping reduce anxiety, as well as increasing our attention capacity and the ability to connect with other people.
5. Write in a journal.
Writing (by hand!) is another meditative hobby that can kick the brain into relaxation mode. It’s a powerful method for releasing all the noise our brains absorb throughout the day via screens onto paper, freeing your brain of unnecessary clutter. If you’re stuck on what to write about, check out these journal prompts that can help you get the ball rolling.
Photo by Timothy L Brock
6. Call a friend or family member.
With many parts of the country still in partial lockdown, face-to-face interactions are sparse. That said, getting on yet another Zoom call isn’t always attractive either, but luckily, good old-fashioned phone calls still exist. Chatting without the distraction of a screen can help keep communication clear (you can’t misinterpret an ill-placed period on a phone call!), and connecting with people in real-time is known to reduce anxiety and boost confidence.
Photo by Dollar Gill
7. Practice yoga.
This may seem like a given, but this wouldn’t be a guide to unwinding without a tip of the hat to yoga! Yoga is probably the oldest form of screen-free relaxation there is, known for easing tension in the body and mind, promoting flexibility, and alleviating pain or soreness. If you need a little help getting started, try our Mindful Moments Series where we guide you through weekly meditation, movement, and breathwork over the course of 4 weeks.
For an added bonus, use on of these 5 essential oils during your yoga practice for an extra dose of relaxation.
Cecilia is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. She writes largely about sustainability, especially as it applies to beauty, wellness, and the future of technology. She is a graduate of the journalism department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is based in Los Angeles, CA.