Most of our lives seem to revolve around technology, whether we're scrolling through social media, sending photos, or checking our email for the 100th time. And while all of that is fine — and fulfilling in its own way — sometimes you just need to
take a break from technology, and do something else with your downtime.
"Technology has enhanced our lives in so many positive ways, but too much time on our electronics can also leave people feeling
disconnected from loved ones and the world around them," Heidi McBain, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. To keep yourself from going overboard, "set parameters around your technology use, and set timers if you get lost in social media land, as a reminder that there are things to enjoy in the present moment as well," McBain says.
Then get out there and start enjoying. "There are so many great ways to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature, yourself, old hobbies, friends, etc.," Kailee Place, LPC, owner of
Shifting Tides Therapeutic Solutions, tells Bustle. And doing so can not only be fun, but also beneficial to your wellbeing. Here are a few ways to spend your downtime that are creative, interesting, relaxing, and inspiring — no technology required.
"Journaling connects a person to their innermost thoughts,"
Mary Silver, MSW, tells Bustle. "It helps a person gain clarity and understanding. [And] it helps creativity and connection to self."
And yet most of us don't
make the time to journal, even though it only takes a few minutes to jot down some thoughts, or outline a few ideas. So the next time you have some downtime, and a few sheets of paper, why not give it a try?
When was the last time you communed with nature? If it's been a minute since you sat in a park, or went for a leisurely stroll, this may be exactly what you need to do with your downtime,
Morgan Sheets, a certified wellness coach and massage therapist, tells Bustle. "The fresh air, exposure to plant life, and walking will help soothe your soul and calm your nervous system."
Like journaling, it's nice to sit down distraction-free and write out your goals, hopes, dreams, and priorities. "More than likely, you have a long list of to-dos bouncing through your mind and not a lot of time to focus on getting them accomplished,"
organizing exert Rachel Rosenthal tells Bustle. "Use your time away from your tech as a chance to chip away at your to-do list. Create a bite-sized priority list that you can run through (three to five tasks) and that take priority over all of the other to-dos. Getting through smaller chunks of tasks will keep you focused on what’s important and help to keep you motivated."
For only a couple of bucks, you can get your paws on some paint, a canvas, and brushes, and have yourself one heck of a creative afternoon. As Place says, painting free form, "helps exercise creativity and with no need for expectations, it can be a lot of fun and relaxing. Have fun with seeing how colors look together, what designs look nice, or just let yourself relax watching paint appear across a canvas."
Takeout may be your thing for most days of the week, most likely due to a super busy schedule. But if you find yourself with some spare time, take it upon yourself to test out your skills in the kitchen, and see what kind of recipes you can come up with.
"Have fun with your food and see what you're able to create," Place says. "Again, with no expectations, this is something that's just fun and you may find your new favorite recipe!"
Whether it's a couple of succulents on your windowsill, a potted plant on your porch, or a full-on backyard garden, nothing beats digging in the dirt and watching things grow.
"The benefits are connecting to personal creation and making something beautiful," Silver says. "There is creativity involved with the design, there is on-going care which gives a person a sense of need, accomplishment and recognition, and there is pride in taking care of their personal space of beauty." What's better than that?
We're often quick to turn to Netflix, or our phones, for entertainment. And yet board games can be just as fun and fulfilling — if not more so.
"Play with your family, your significant other, or invite a friend over,"
Kim McIntyre, a stress relief specialist, tells Bustle. "Not only does this take your focus off your problems, it also creates a space for connection and laughter with the people that you care about. Depending on the game you choose, your brain may also be getting a creativity workout."
If you find yourself with a chunk of open space in your calendar, you might want to spend it watching YouTube videos. And that's awesome. But you could also use those precious hours to organize your life.
One cool way to start, is by organizing your closet. "Grouping your clothing into categories (i.e. tops, pants, dresses, etc.) makes your closet easy to navigate and helps you quickly identify what options are available, which is especially important in a shared closet," Rosenthal says. "Take it one step further and color code each category (we follow ROYGBIV) to make it even easier to pair separates and put outfits together."
Then move onto your bathroom drawers, kitchen cabinets, and so on — and watch in awe as your life feels more organized than ever.
While you can obviously make a vision board with the help of technology, sometimes it's nice to sit down with a pen and paper — and lots of magazines — and create a vision board the old-fashioned way.
"All you have to do is cut out pictures that light you up when you look at them," Sheets says. "Then paste them onto a piece of construction paper or a canvas and create a 'feel good' board of a visual representation of what you want more of in life. What we focus on grows, so knowing what you want and having a visual representation helps you to
live towards your goals. “
Reading in your downtime is a major plus when it comes to feeling more knowledgable and creative, Sheets says. But meeting up IRL with friends can be great, too. Plus, it'll give you a much-needed break from all those groups texts.
It can be difficult to
tune into your intuition if you're constantly being barraged by text alerts and emails. So if you want to feel more connected, and maybe even strengthen your extrasensory perception (ESP) in the process, make a point of living part of your life sans technology.
To connect with your intuition, "practice turning off the 'over thinking' and practice tuning into your 'inner feeling,'" Loewenstein says. "This can strengthen your relationship with yourself and make you feel less and anxious and more confident ... [making] it easier to make decisions."
Connect With The World Around You
To truly relax and recharge during your downtime, sometimes all it takes is a few minutes spent connecting with the world around you. "Pay attention to people passing you on the street. Strike up a conversation at the coffee shop. Notice a rosebush," Jeff Porten, author of
, tells Bustle. "The best non-technological activity is to engage more with the world around you." Take Control of Your Productivity
And that's because we often don't realize we need a break from technology until we make a point of unplugging, and officially take notice of all that we're missing. So before it gets to that point, try to spend some of your downtime going tech-free. I promise, you aren't likely to miss it.