Global Day of Unplugging.

Blog International Unplug Day

Are you constantly glued to your screen? Do you find it difficult to disconnect from the digital world? If so, this year’s Global Day of Unplugging on Friday 1 March could be just what you need. This international initiative aims to raise awareness of the importance of taking a break from technology, and reconnecting with ourselves and those around us. So, get ready to embrace a digital detox day!

Go screen-free for the day.

Think of it as your chance to unplug and unwind, concentrating on offline activities instead. It’s the perfect opportunity to break the routine and do something different. 

That could be getting a bit of fresh air and exercise, meeting up with a friend you haven’t seen in ages, or starting that book you keep meaning to read (but no e-readers please – that’s cheating!).

The benefits of unplugging.

Our ancestors would be baffled by a world where we spend virtually every minute with a screen in easy reach. Portable tech has become as much a part of everyday as eating and wearing clothes – so you might be amazed what a difference unplugging from technology can make! 

Giving your eyes a rest.

Too much tech puts a strain on our eyesight. Yet 50% of smartphone users reach for theirs as soon as they wake up in the morning.1 And staring at screens for hours on end gets us into the habit of blinking less, causing our eyes to feel dry and irritated.1 

Happily, you may notice a difference after just a day away from that harsh, artificial light. Worth a try, not least because taking longer breaks from devices is a good habit to get into for your overall well-being.   

Feeling more focused. 

All those distracting pop-ups and pinging notifications aren’t exactly conducive to concentration. Endless texts and calls can make us feel pressured into responding instantly, delaying whatever task we have in hand. 

So a technology-free day, without the pressure to check your social media feeds and be at everyone’s beck and call, could be your first step to becoming more productive. 

Sleeping more soundly.

Studies suggest spending more than 1.5 hours at a bright screen before bedtime can increase your alertness.2 That’s bad news if you’re counting on a decent night’s sleep to be firing on all cylinders in the morning. 

Research also suggests that interactive devices, like video games or anything that involves posting online, are more disruptive than ones we interact with passively.2 And, whilst watching a movie, reading an e-book or listening to music can be less of a distraction, it’s always worth taking a break from your tech before you turn in at night. 

Reducing stress and anxiety.

For all the ways the internet can make our lives easier and more fun, there’s also a downside. Social media has a way of making us compare our lives with others. All too often time online can leave us on edge, with a negative effect on our self-esteem.3  

So you might want to take the day as an opportunity to try out some mindfulness techniques. They require no lengthy prep or special equipment, and may help you build a better appreciation of your present moment, without the pressures of seeing what others are doing.

Improving your physical well-being.

Spending time online also encourages a sedentary lifestyle and bad posture, which can lead to repetitive stress injuries. 

Putting down your phone for the day could be a good first step to a more active life. Time to try out a session at the gym maybe, go for a run, or get involved in a team sport. And remember, what kind of exercise you choose matters less than finding one you enjoy, because that way you’re more likely to stick to it. 

Building connections that matter. 

In one sense, tech and social media make connecting and keeping up with the people we care about easier than ever. But they can also create barriers between you and the offline world – not helpful when it comes to building real-life relationships.   

All the more reason to put your phone down, and maybe even consider deleting some apps. Why not take the Global Day of Unplugging as an opportunity for a get-together, and enjoy some ‘social’ time in the true, face-to-face sense of the word? 

If you love gaming, try taking it offline with a board game night. Or if movies are more your thing, exchange a film for a live-action experience at the theatre. After all, saving energy is something you should feel good about.  

Living in the moment.

Disconnecting from screens can make you more self-aware, and mindful unplugging practices can help us to slow down. By escaping from thoughts that aren’t always welcome, we can rediscover life’s natural rhythms that may get disrupted by too much screen time. 

It can also help you to develop empathy for those around you. Concentrating on what really matters gives you a clearer perspective on life. And that’s quite apart from the good you can do for your carbon footprint, by reducing your device time and using less energy

All good reasons to step away from those screens and the pressures of the online world. 

Preparing for your unplugged day.

Before you embark on your day of digital detox, here are some steps to help you prepare successfully:

  1. Inform your contacts. Let your friends, family, and colleagues know that you won’t be available for the day. Set expectations, and provide alternative methods of contact in an emergency.

  2. Planning your day in advance will help you make the most of it. By making a list of screen-free day ideas, you won't be tempted to reach for your devices out of boredom. So create physical boundaries by designating tech-free spaces in your home, and remove devices or turn them off completely to take away any temptation.

  3. If going cold turkey is too challenging, unplug gradually. Start by reducing your screen time leading up to your unplugged day. This will help you make the transition smoother. Set specific time limits for using your devices, then gradually decrease them as the day approaches.

An unplugged day can be more enjoyable and fulfilling when you have the support of others who are sharing your goal. So reach out to your friends or family members who are also interested in disconnecting from technology, and plan to spend the day together.  

Tips to make it a regular habit.

Once you give it a try, you may find you want to make unplugged days a regular part of your routine. If you do, here are some ways to make it easier:

  • Start by designating a specific day each week or month.

  • Make it a recurring event in your calendar, prioritising it as you would any other commitment.

  • Consider upping the frequency to establish it in your routine.

  • Remember to remind your loved ones about your unplugged days in advance.

  • Have plenty of alternative entertainment and offline day activities at the ready to replace your screen time.

Challenging yourself to unplug regularly could ultimately lead to a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. So go on – give yourself a digital wellness day this Friday 1 March. 

All in all, it’s got to be a day worth plugging!

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Published 01/03/2024