kip lewis austin - thrive article 1

In 2020, all that could be done was to stay plugged in. From video conferencing for business meetings to constantly connecting to family and friends through FaceTime, there was an ever-present need to remain connected. For many, the pandemic made it essential to be online all the time. Breaking news, stock market plunges, the need to always be available to an employer to ensure your position remained – they’ve been taxing to everyone.

Now, it’s time to unplug. That may sound nearly impossible given the state of flux within the community. However, relaxation is more than the typical night of binging TV or staring at the latest sporting event. It’s time to get out and enjoy the world around you. Worried about doing so? Here are some ways to do so in a meaningful way.

#1: Leave Home Without Your Phone

It’s a terrifying thought for many people but going for a simple walk around the block without their phone, connected watch, or earplugs is one of the best ways to unplug right now. No connectivity means there’s time to think. More time without devices means there’s more opportunity to hear nature. It’s amazing how much clarity is possible when you simply step outside without a digital connection. One study found that spending 2 hours in green spaces can impact health and psychological wellbeing, including reducing blood pressure, improving immune system function, and reducing stress hormones.

#2: Meditate

It’s not the first thing that comes to your mind in the morning, especially when you’re struggling for every minute of extra sleep. Yet, meditating, especially right in the morning, can help create a sense of peace and establish a better level of focus for the day. Aim to meditate for just 20 minutes each morning, alone and in a calm space. It may give your body and brain the time needed to recharge.

#3: Listen to Music Instead of a Podcast

There are plenty of podcasts to listen to on the drive into work or on the way home. You may be constantly connected to new streams of information coming into your mind. It’s good to use this time wisely, but it’s better to create a break. Instead of connecting your phone, toss it into the backseat. Then, turn up the music. Choose any style that you love. Focus on singing or just relaxing. This creates a key break in the middle of the day that lets you be more present when you walk in the door with your family.

#4: Get Back to the No Phone Rule

For many parents, seeing their kids sitting around the table for a meal with phone in hand is aggravating. Perhaps it happened over time as life became more challenging (and you never seemed to stop seeing your kids due to their need to go to school at the kitchen table). Get back to ditching the phone for a meal together, at the table, and surrounded by just each other. It’s good for building the family unit, but it’s also important for staying connected to reality, not just a digital life.

#5: Get to the Gym

Working out is more than just maintaining fitness. It’s excellent for stress relief. The American Psychological Association found that when people exercise, they are burning off incredible amounts of stress hormones. That helps you to feel better throughout the rest of your day. It may help with coping with stress at home or work. The key here is that you are going to a location where you’re on your own and working for yourself. The physical fitness benefits matter too, of course.

#6: Take a Break Without Your Phone

Unplugging is important even during the workday. How many days have you spent working through lunch or answering calls during your lunch hour? You’re doing your job, you think, but what you’re really doing is making yourself less productive and efficient the rest of the workday. The brain needs that mental break. This is a good time to go to a coffee shop and just sit and read. Don’t turn to your phone, but perhaps a book. Enjoy lunch outdoors instead, if you like.

#7: Put Limitations on Yourself

It is critical to create limitations for those who are always connected to social media and email. Perhaps you don’t allow yourself to use these digital connections after dinner each day. You may way to create a formal break in your day after work where you disconnect fully. Leave the laptop in the bag and plug in the phone in another room while you do something around the home or do nothing at all.

#8: Get Away

Probably the most important tool for improving overall stress and unwinding is to take a break for a few days. Get to that cabin. Go to the beach. No matter what you choose to do, keep it digital-free. This type of break is good for emotional health and physical fitness. It also shows everyone at work just how important you are to them. It makes you a better version of yourself when you take care of your physical and mental needs.