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Embracing the National Day of Unplugging: Reconnecting with the World Beyond Screens

If you are feeling overwhelmed, suffer from FOMO, or are sick of mindless scrolling, put down the phone, and celebrate the National Day of Unplugging!

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Since 2009, the first Friday of March has been known as the National Day of Unplugging. It’s a vast understatement to say that most of the world at this point is utterly addicted to their tech products. We spend hours a day looking at a screen, and while it keeps us informed and connected in some ways, there are also some downfalls. Let’s take a look at the holiday, where it came from, why we need it, and how best to celebrate. Let’s get to it!

Celebrating the National Day of Unplugging With Adventures From Scratch

If we’re going to participate in the National Day of Unplugging, we might as well use that time to work on our personal relationships. That’s where AFS comes in! We’ve got three incredible scratch-off adventure books that are built just for that purpose. With more than 50 activities in each and inquisitive conversation starters, our books are expertly crafted to create deeper relationships in a fun and unique atmosphere. No matter who you want to spend your tech-free day with, we’ve got you covered with our Date Edition, Friends Edition, or Family Edition!

What is the National Day of Unplugging?

The National Day of Unplugging is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a call to abstain from all technology for a full 24-hour period. The holiday is more than national, actually. It has expanded to become the Global Day of Unplugging, celebrated by stressed-out digital gurus all over the world. The purpose is to set aside your digital devices and focus on real life, human connection, physical health, and mental rebooting.

Where did the concept come from?

The holiday originated with nonprofit Jewish arts and culture organizations called Reboot and the Sabbath Manifesto. In the Judeo-Christian community, there is a concept called Shabbat or Sabbath. It revolves around the command from God to work six days a week and then rest from labor on the seventh to recharge. In Jewish tradition, the Shabbat is observed from sunset on Friday night to sundown on Saturday night. It’s considered a time of spiritual and mental rejuvenation. The faithful are expected to focus on family, God, and rest, separating themselves from all labor associated with the rest of the week.

Though it started with religious roots, the concept of digital detox is highly backed by research (more on that in a minute), and it quickly caught on with the global public. Now, people all over the world join together for a day of fun activities that are totally free of social media and mindless scrolling.

Do we really need to unplug?

It should come as no surprise to you at this stage of the game that staring at a screen all day has negative effects on our mental well-being and our physical health. Multiple research studies have shown links between enhanced screen time and an increase in physical ailments associated with a sedentary lifestyle. From eye strain to increased obesity levels, all are connected with too much screen time.

Multiple studies have also been conducted on social media addiction and the effect it has on self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. Constant connectivity and information overload have been linked to the decreased responsiveness in dopamine receptors and changes to the gray matter proportion in the brain. We discuss all these negative aspects and the benefits of unplugging, in detail, in “Navigating a Digital Detox: The Path to Mindful Tech Consumption.” If you require more convincing that you need to join the unplugging movement, check that out ASAP.

Prepping for the Global Day of Unplugging

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or outright terrified at the state of our world (as presented by TikTok), it’s probably time for you to take a digital detox. It might be harder to walk away than you think, though. Smartphone users typically spend more than half their waking hours engaged in some kind of media. According to a 2018 study by Nielson, the average American spends more than ten hours a day interacting with media of some sort. Those are pre-pandemic numbers!

According to Statistica, South Africans, on average, spend more than ten hours a day on the internet alone. That doesn’t even include television time. In short, social media sites and the internet in general have become our norm. They’re such a huge component of our daily lives that it’s hard for some to imagine putting their cell phones away for a full 24 hours. So, how do we do it? How do we successfully digitally detox for the National Day of Unplugging?

Before you just disappear from your normal connections, you need to make a few plans in order to succeed. First of all, you don’t want to scare your partner to death by not answering their texts all day. You also want to actually enjoy your time away from electronics. In advance of the holiday, take these simple steps to prepare.

1. Notify the important people of your plans.

Before you fall off the face of the Earth for a full day, inform your loved ones of your plans. Tell them you won’t be responding to texts, emails, or phone calls, and let them know where you will be if they need to contact you.

2. Get friends and family on board.

The best way to spend your digital detox time is in the company of your favorite folks. Plan a tech-free get-together, and let everyone know that screens are strictly off-limits. The more friends and family who are on board with the plan, the easier it will be for you to stick to your guns.

3. Decide what you’re going to do with your electronics.

For most people, simply stating that you’re not going to look at your phone all day will not be enough. You’ll subconsciously pick that sucker up in no time. You may decide to put your phone in a box for the allotted period of time. You may want to lock away all your devices in the safe and have a family member hide the key.

Some of you won’t or can’t go that extreme. If you need to have your phone available for family health emergencies, etc., turn off all notifications. Put your apps to sleep, and set your phone to “do not disturb” except for those who may need to call you. Then, unplug the television. Making these small preparations will make it infinitely easier to stick to your plan.

4. Plan something specific so you can enjoy your time.

The most effective way to succeed at your digital fast is to fill your time with meaningful activities. You’ll want to find things you enjoy and make plans to achieve them. Whether you head to a spot by the lake and read that book that’s been on your coffee table for months or take on a major physical challenge, you need a plan to be out of the house!

Celebrating the National Day of Unplugging

Here are a few unique ideas to get you away from your phone so you can enjoy the real world! Remember, your Sabbath day should be spent doing something that offers you a mental health reset. It needs to be something you enjoy or maybe a challenge you want to complete. Spend it with a person who brings you joy. We’ve collected a laundry list of options. Scroll through and find something that will work for you and your crew!

1. Take an excursion with Adventures from Scratch.

Check out our full range of adventure books! They focus on innovative and interactive activities to do with friends, family, or your partner. We even include helpful conversation starters to ensure that you don’t waste words. And don’t forget to use the handy journal to document your new memories! With more than 50 activities in each book, you can enjoy a tech-free adventure every week!

2. Join an app-guided tour of your city with Let’s Roam!

You don’t have to go far from home to enjoy a sightseeing tour. At Let’s Roam, we love to see people explore their own backyard. That’s why we’ve created hundreds of scavenger hunts in destinations all over the world. From big cities to adorable small towns, we’ve crafted ghost tours, art walks, bar crawls, and sightseeing hunts. They combine trivia with interactive photo and video challenges to infuse some fun facts and friendly competition into your tour. Gather points as you go, and see how you faired on our city-wide leaderboard! It’s an easy process. Just download our scavenger hunt app, find your city, grab your tickets, and complete it at your own pace!

3. Take a hike.

There’s no better way to reset than to get out and enjoy the beauty of nature. Hiking allows us to reconnect to nature and get a much-needed surge of endorphins. You don’t need to scale the tallest summit—just find a beautiful area with a trail that’s near your home, and go explore!

4. Volunteer with a local nonprofit.

Nothing makes you feel better than giving back. Spend your tech-free day bathing puppies at the shelter, serving food to the homeless, or cleaning up a natural area in your town. For more project ideas, check out “65 Community Service Ideas for Every Type of Volunteer.”

5. Join a dance class.

Get your groove on and your happy hormones flowing by learning a new dance routine. From salsa to two-step, dive bars and formal studios all over the world will gladly take your dollars to teach you some new steps.

6. Read a book.

Believe it or not, they still actually print books on paper. Find a beautiful spot, and dive into a fantastic fantasy or a romping romance.

7. Plan a barbecue.

Spend the day and evening with your favorite folks! Fire up the grill, and make hotdogs and hamburgers. Have friends bring side dishes, and pull out the ice chests. Set up the yard games, and end the evening with a bonfire and s’mores!

Here are “13 Suntastic Summer Cookout Ideas” to help you get started!

8. Host a family game night.

Invite your favorites over for a night of board games, puzzles, or vintage party games. Make sure you have plenty of snacks, and remind everyone that it’s a tech-free evening!

Check out these “28 Dinner Party Games Sure to Impress Your Guests.”

9. Enjoy a shopping day.

For some, there’s nothing more cathartic than a new pair of shoes. If that sounds like you, grab your bestie, and spend the day perusing the new spring collections.

10. Join a charity marathon.

Calling all runners! Spend your digital detox day raising some money for a good cause.

11. Complete a DIY project.

We all have them—those pesky little projects that have been awaiting our attention for months (or years). Now is the time to peel that wallpaper in the guest bathroom, paint your laundry room, or finally fix those broken dresser drawers. Hit up the Home Depot, and get going.

12. Redecorate the house.

The Global Day of Unplugging lands at the turn of the spring season. Take this time to put away the winter decor and freshen things up with some pastel colors and bright, spring decor!

13. Do the spring cleaning.

A long winter indoors usually leads to a messy house. Spend your digital detox day detoxing the closets and dusting those mini-blinds. While cleaning isn’t fun for most people, it is usually rewarding. When it’s all said and done and you’re house is sparkling, you’ll likely feel some mental relief.

14. Take a road trip.

Hop in the car with your favorite peeps. Turn up the tunes, and hit the open road to nowhere—or to somewhere. Totally your choice! Check out our list of road trip guides to help you get started!

15. Work on your photography.

Grab an old camera, and go outside! Take some artistic urban shots. Or snap some sunrise and sunset photos. Work on capturing the essence of the local wildlife, or see the world through a different kind of lens today.

16. Take a kayaking adventure.

March usually has plenty of rain, and that means the rapids are flowing and ready to ride. Rent a kayak or raft. Grab the crew, and spend the day on the river!

17. Hit the slopes.

In some areas, March is prime snow-skiing time. If you have a slope within driving distance, riding the powder is a perfect digital detox activity.

18. Go cold water swimming.

March is a bit cold for swimming, but cold water swimming is also a rush with physical benefits!

19. Join a new exercise class.

Been wanting to join that Peloton spin class at the gym? Go for it!

20. Try journaling.

A digital detox day is the perfect opportunity to put actual pen to paper. Get a journal, and spend the day working through your thoughts.

21. Visit a local nursing home, or visit your grandparents.

You might as well spend a day with no technology with the generation that excels without it. Bring some sweet treats, and spend your day lost in their stories.

22. Work on a scrapbook.

We know there’s nothing written in kid number three’s baby book. Get busy.

23. Plan a date day.

Spend the day with your favorite person, and work on your romance. Whatever it is you love to do together (or did before Netflix), go do that.

24. Enjoy a spa day.

Nothing screams self-care like a massage and a facial!

25. Go on a food tour.

Most major cities have excellent walking tours, and the only thing better than exploring a city on foot is doing it with a tasty local treat!

26. Throw a themed party.

It’s a holiday! Throw a party! From Mexican fiestas to 1920s glamour, the list of options is endless!

27. Go bowling.

Go old-fashioned with a night of family fun at the bowling alley. Eat nasty (and tasty) bowling alley food, play air hockey, and amp up the trash talk. It will be good for you!

28. Take the family to the ice skating rink.

March is your last chance to enjoy outdoor ice skating rinks and hot cocoa!

29. Visit your nearest Native American site.

If you’re interested in Native American history, find the closest cultural site, and go check it out!

30. Rent a pontoon boat.

If it’s warm enough in your area in March, rent a pontoon with a group of friends. You can putt around the lake all day, blast your favorite tunes, and soak up some sun with your favorite beverage in hand. Pontoons are usually cheap to rent for a few hours, especially if you split the price among friends!

Closing Thoughts

We love the idea behind the National Day of Unplugging! We hope we’ve inspired you to put down the digital devices for a short period and spend some time devoted to relationships. Have a reset this year! Whether you get out in nature, spend the day at Nordstrom’s, or relax in a spa, put away those screens, and indulge in some self-care. You may find that it’s just what you need. If so, do it more often and maybe even inspire new habits in your group while you’re at it!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the National Day of Unplugging?

The National Day of Unplugging is a 24-hour period dedicated to digital detox. Participants are supposed to put away all electronics to focus on a mental and physical reboot.

When is the National Day of Unplugging?

The National Day of Unplugging occurs on the first Friday of March each year and is focused on stepping away from the digital world to spend time with friends and family or on self-care.

How do you celebrate the National Day of Unplugging?

Celebrate the National Day of Unplugging by taking a hike, planning a date day for your partner, or spending the day at the spa. As long as you leave the tech behind, you can’t go wrong!

Why should I celebrate the National Day of Unplugging?

Celebrating the National Day of Unplugging is a chance to focus on your mental health, accomplish a challenge, or work on neglected relationships. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try it out!

When did the National Day of Unplugging start?

The National Day of Unplugging was started in 2009 by the Jewish nonprofits Reboot and the Sabbath Manifesto in order to encourage people to “reboot” with a digital fast.

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