Technology has become so ingrained in our day-to-day lives that we all need a “holiday” of sorts to disconnect from our devices. The 13th annual National Day of Unplugging takes place this March 4 and 5, from sundown to sundown and encourages people of all ages to “unplug” or take a break from technology–whether it’s for an hour or the entire 24 hours. This is easier said than done for many people, myself included…after all, my MLB 9 Innings 22 game isn’t going to play itself on my phone. But I digress. A day (or more) away from technology can do all of us a lot of good–but how can we spend all that time we’re usually on our devices? Here are seven ways to unplug on National Day of Unplugging.

  1. Read. It’s scary to think that there are entire generations who were not alive when magazines and newspapers (what’s a newspaper?) couldn’t be read in digital form. Yes, there was a time when we had to physically hold a book, or a magazine, or yes, even a newspaper in our hands and use our fingers to turn the pages. Why not revisit those days? Instead of reading an eBook or a digital magazine or an online news site, grab a physical copy, get comfortable on the couch, and read the day away!
  1. Exercise. Before video games, kids used to go outside and play. Every day. No matter the weather. There was hardly a day I’d return home from dinner without having worked up a solid sweat. It’s just what we did, but unfortunately this kind of neighborhood play has seemingly gone the way of the newspaper. Maybe it’s time to change that! Because simply playing outdoors is great for kids’ socialization, imagination, and health. Running around with the neighborhood kids can create lasting memories, whether you’re shooting hoops in the street, riding bikes around the block, exploring the nearby woods, or making up your own games. As a bonus, it’s exercise and helps keep kids healthy–and away from devices.
  1. Reconnect. Not via text message. Through actual conversation. This can be with people in your own household or with friends and relatives you haven’t spoken with in a while. Now, we can give you a pass because you will need a phone to have this actual conversation (unless you have a landline!). We’ll even allow a video call since it involves a real conversation. But this can be a great time to catch up with old friends and family without the distraction of a screen.
  1. Play a game. Sure, video games can definitely be a lot of fun. But there’s nothing quite like the bonding and laughs (and snacks!) shared during a family game night (or day). Aside from the classics like Monopoly, the Game of Life, Battleship, and Clue, there are so many new board, domino, and card games that are hilarious and/or fun for everyone. And if you’re really itching for some technology, there are even card games that use memes (What Do You Meme?) and phones (New Phone, Who ‘Dis?) as the basis of the game. Just pay attention to the appropriate age group for each game…some are designed for older teens and adults.
  1. Do what inspires you creatively. Some people love to draw and paint. Others enjoy writing. Some enjoy the quiet and concentration of constructing jigsaw puzzles or building model trains. Whatever it is you enjoy doing most, spend this day of unplugging focusing on that. Put pen to paper and write a creative story, or continue your journaling. Paint a still life or sketch your favorite comic book characters. Crack open that 5,000-piece puzzle you’ve been meaning to get to and see what you can accomplish over the course of a couple days. Just spend the day exercising your brain and demonstrating your creativity without the help of technology.
  1. Take a field trip. Now that most areas are relaxing their COVID restrictions, a field trip is a fun, exciting, and educational way to spend the day. And the sky’s the limit! If you live within driving distance of a city, take a day trip and explore as many of the attractions as you can squeeze in…museums, walking tours, new restaurants, zoos, aquariums, and anything else that piques your interest. If you’re not too far from a national park or a beach, spend the day relaxing there or take a whale-watching tour. Remember, the weather doesn’t have to be sunny and warm to enjoy a stroll along the shoreline or a picnic amongst the trees. A day in the fresh air or immersing yourself in a city’s culture is always a worthwhile excursion.
  1. Take a ride! For some (myself included), there’s nothing quite as exhilarating or stress-relieving as a good thrill ride. And let’s face it–kids (and all of us, really) have been more or less cooped up, stressed out, masked up, and coping with all the ripple effects of the pandemic for two years, though it feels like a lifetime. It’s time to let loose, scream at the top of your lungs, feel an amazing adrenaline rush, and smile! A rollercoaster accelerating from 0-60 in a second or two, followed by a near-90-degree vertical plunge into a corkscrew and a few loops, will do the trick for lots of people. For the less-daring (and arguably more sane), most theme parks offer plenty of enjoyable rides and attractions that don’t involve a momentary fear for your life.

There are many, many more ways to unplug from technology and take in the world around you. While these seven ideas are undoubtedly fun and device-free, the world is your oyster. Feel free to partake in any activity that doesn’t involve a screen. Just remind the kids…no phones or tablets in the car while you’re on the way to your unplugged day of fun!