Yes, we’re all likely a little too addicted to our phones. But someone telling you you need to do a full digital detox—AKA throw your phone in the ocean for a week— is not actually helpful.
The truth is, modern life revolves around being digitally connected and engaged. That fact means you might not have the luxury of signing off email completely and also comes with plenty of benefits (like staying in touch with your cousin who lives in Alaska).
Still, it helps to think mindfully about how your tech is affecting your life and to engage in digital detoxing on your own terms. In other words, it’s possible to find ways to consciously disconnect without totally logging off.
Here are five simple ones you can try now. Repeat whenever you feel yourself falling into an Instagram-related black hole.
5 Easy Ways to Disconnect
1. Give your phone its own bedtime
Arianna Huffington loves to talk about how she tucks her phone in at night, and she’s figured a few things out about living a productive life. Set a time and try to stick to it each night by plugging your phone into a designated spot and leaving it there until after you wake up. Bonus points: experts recommend buying an analog alarm clock so that your phone doesn’t need to be anywhere near your bed.
2. Don’t invite your phone on your dinner date
Some restaurants have started banning cell phones at the table to put the emphasis back on the experience of sharing a meal. While that’s pretty rare, you can easily use eating out as an opportunity to focus on your dinner companion (s), mindfully enjoy a meal, and just generally relax.
3. Book a fitness or yoga class
Here’s a way to get two-fold health benefits. Exercise is obviously great for you anyway, and if you book a class, you generally aren’t allowed to bring your phone in. That means you’re automatically scheduling an hour of disconnecting into your day. Lifestyle tech expert Carley Knobloch notes a bonus approach: Go to yoga and you can work on your tech neck symptoms at the same time.
4. Just keep your phone in your pocket
This sounds so so so simple. But…where is your phone right now? Probably next to you on the table? In a book about logging off, one author says simply making a commitment to keeping it in your pocket is “one of the bravest things that any of us can do.” It sets a tone that says “I’ll check my phone when I need to” instead of “I need to keep checking it for no reason.”
5. Log off for a day
If you’re really feeling like you need a cleansing tech break, it doesn’t need to be a full week. You’d be surprised how good 24, or even 12 hours, can feel. Try doing it on a day when you’re not working and you can engage in nature. Spend a Saturday at the beach, for example, go on a hike, or host a barbecue. Getting social and feeling present IRL will remind you of what’s important so that when you log back on, all of those notifications might just feel a little less overwhelming.