We all know the feeling of collapsing on the couch after a long day at work. Our bodies are desperately craving rest, and our minds want nothing more than to unwind and unplug.
But you know what happens, right? You just can’t shut down. Your thoughts race, your to-do list beckons, and you end up mindlessly scrolling on your phone to distract yourself.
If you can relate, here are seven slow living strategies helping me unplug from technology (and the world!). I’m not perfect, but I’m learning how to disconnect and relax—and I hope these tips help you do so as well.
How to Disconnect At The End of the Day
Create a sensory environment
I want you to try something. Close your eyes for a second and imagine that it’s the end of the day. You’re at the beach, and you feel fully relaxed. Can you describe what it’s like for me?
My guess is you’ll say something like this:
- I can hear the sound of the waves
- I can feel the sand between my toes
- The air smells salty
- The sun is setting on the horizon
In other words, you’re using your senses and paying attention to what you hear, feel, smell, see. You’re fully in the present, and you naturally disconnect from technology and your to-do list. You’re too busy taking in the amazing world all around you.
Now, of course, most of us can’t head to the beach every day after work. But we can look for opportunities to create a rich sensory environment in our homes. Here are a few things I like to do:
- burn candles or diffuse essential oils
- use mood lighting
- play a favourite playlist or album
- treat myself to a cheese platter, a glass of wine, or a cup of tea
- sit so that I’m staring out the window (instead of at the television)
These are just a few simple ways I try to create a special atmosphere after work. Of course, with two young kids, it’s not always as serene as I’d like—but there’s still something a bit magical about making an effort. Evenings feel like a special event, and it’s easier to leave the rest of the world behind.
Try an end of the day ritual
Another way to unplug from the day is to experiment with an end of the day ritual. You can go for a walk, take a shower, or even incorporate some of the above ideas (like lighting a candle).
A bonus tip if you really want to disconnect is to say goodnight to your technology every evening. Put your laptop in a case or your phone on charge, and you can even give it a little “tuck, tuck” for the night.
Use pen and paper to clear your mind
If you’re sitting on the sofa, ready to relax, but your mind just won’t switch off—then I highly recommend trying a little journaling session.
If you don’t know how to start journaling, don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and there’s no getting it right or wrong. Just get out a pen and paper and write about anything that’s on your mind—everything from fears and self-doubts to random grocery lists.
Don’t worry about using proper grammar or correcting spelling mistakes. And don’t edit yourself either. Instead, just keep scribbling until your mind feels at ease.
When you’re done, avoid your phone at all costs! (You don’t want to fill your mind with thoughts and ideas again.) Instead, just relax and enjoy the post journaling afterglow.
If you’d like to be more structured with your writing, why not try one of these mindful journaling prompts.
Check-in with your boundaries
Journaling and lighting candles are lovely ways to end the day, but they’re no substitute for strong personal boundaries.
If you can’t relax because you know your office sends late night emails or because it’s your sister’s favourite time to gossip on messenger, then you may need to have a conversation about your needs. Let them know you’re unplugging at night and won’t be available 24/7.
Log off of social media (and delete it too!)
Speaking of boundaries … sometimes the most powerful limits are the ones we set with ourselves. If you want to disconnect from technology in the evening, I invite you to review your social media habits.
Now to be clear, I know this is easier said than done. I definitely struggle with social media (it’s one of the hazards of running an online business!). But every once in a while, when I know I need a break, I log off of all my social media apps—and then I delete them too.
I know it might not sound like much (obviously, I could just download the apps again and log in). But those few extra steps give me time to think more intentionally about my decisions, and it’s often enough for me to put my phone down.
Have you ever heard of being in flow? Even if you don’t know the phrase, you’re probably familiar with the feeling. First described by psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihály, it’s “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter“.
In other words, we lose ourselves in the task at hand. This means we’re not thinking or worrying about our Instagram account, inbox, or that pile of laundry we’ve been meaning to fold (…for days now).
So how do you get in flow? Well, it’s different for everyone, but I’ve found that indulging in a creative project is often the simplest way for me. Painting, scrapbooking, creative writing, simple doodling—experiment and see what lights you up.
Invest in relationships … offline
Sometimes the best way to disconnect from technology and our stressful lives is to reconnect with those who matter.
Of course, the circumstances of the past year have meant that sometimes we need technology to connect with loved ones (I’ve been so grateful for Facetime!). But if you’re fortunate enough to have someone close to cuddle or laugh with, embrace it.
I know it’s not always easy. I know the weight on your mind can be real, heavy, and hard to leave behind. But making an effort to unplug and disconnect, at least some of the time, is so powerful for our wellbeing.
How do you disconnect after work or a stressful day? Are you able to unplug from technology in the evenings? Let us know your best tips in the comments!