11 ways to unplug and be present

October 12, 2018

Sometimes we just need to unplug. It’s one of the best actions we can take to renew ourselves. Whether we take a break from our usual electronic habits or go the extra mile and enjoy some solitude out in nature, we will find ourselves better prepared to face all that life throws our way. Try these eleven ways to unplug and be present for the day.

Turn off lights

We take it for granted that we can have all sorts of light available to us at any time and almost anywhere. While having a well-lit work space is great, we often just leave the lights on everywhere simply because we can. Try turning the lights off, as much as possible, for a day. It may limit what you can do, but the first tasks seem to become impossible are probably the tasks you want to unplug from. Do what you can during the day, bring activities out into the sunlight, and light candles for a relaxing evening.


Turn off alarms

Along the same line of thinking, turn off your alarms for the day. Let yourself wake up when your body and the sun decide that it is naturally the right time. Turn off notifications and pings on any devices you choose to leave on. If you need a reminder to do something, leave yourself a sticky note. Go along at your own pace and follow the rhythms of the nature surrounding you.


Use your hands

Step out of the electronic world and build something with your hands, right in front of you. Repair something around the house or work on some arts and crafts; anything works as long as it’s generative. These actions can pull us out of our head and into the present moment, and we can find joy and accomplishment in seeing the progress that we are making.


Write to work

Just go ahead and write it out. Take time to journal, start a story, or follow a writing prompt. Write a letter to a friend or to your future self. The act of writing by hand lets us focus on just one piece of the story at a time. It keeps us from jumping around to different parts of the project or to different tasks altogether. If you can’t totally unplug from work for the day, try to save all of the work you can do on paper for one big session. You can plan campaigns, draft important emails, and explore creative solutions to tricky problems. You’ll get something done and still enjoy a refreshing change of pace.


Try it outside

Spending time outside and in nature is undoubtedly good for us. A few minutes after we get out into a green space, we can almost feel some pressure being lifted from our shoulders. That’s what makes it one of the easiest ways to unplug. Just take whatever you had planned for the day and figure out how you can do it or something similar to it while spending time outside.


New meditation station

Meditation in any and all forms is a great way to unplug as a part of your daily routine. But if it becomes just routine, just another box to check off, you may start to see diminishing benefits for taking the time to breathe. Whether you are a total beginner or can find your inner calm with relative ease, you may be surprised to find that changing how you meditate will bring a deeper focus. Try a new location, body position, or point of focus, and see how renewed you feel.


Float on

Our close relationship with water goes beyond how it makes up two-thirds of our body. It can heal, soothe, refresh, and cleanse. So take a warm, soapy bath, go for a swim, or just find a good place to sit and watch the waves of some nearby body of water lap in.

Time to unplug

Jam it

Music can affect our brains and our actions in so many great ways. It can lift us up and help us process; get us excited and help maintain our focus. Take some time to noodle around on an instrument or sing and dance to your favorite song. Whether you prefer to sing alone in the shower or get a group together for a jam session, focusing on the music and the way it lights up your brain will renew your energy and focus.


Share the love

We are social creatures and love to feel appreciated. Just think about how you feel when someone compliments your work unexpectedly or calls you to say hi out of the blue. Take time to let the important people in your life know that you care about them and their accomplishments. Compliment a valued colleague’s presentation or send a letter to someone you love and you both will be present in sharing a moment of joy.


Remember the good

Our lives are a huge series of systems and cycles. When we experience something good we add good vibes to our systems. Remembering those good times can reinforce this wave of good. So take some time to sit quietly, in your favorite chair or outside, and let your mind wander to good thoughts and memories. Write down what was so good in your journal, revisit those good times with others who were there, or just enjoy building a chain of good thoughts and warm feelings.


Hide your phone

No, seriously. More than one screen is almost always within reach these days, but our phones have become another limb. On the train, in the bathroom, during wedding ceremonies, we are checking for updates and responding to pings and vibrations. Our unprecedented ability to stay connected can be so productive but we can also use it as an excuse to avoid interacting and engaging in the present. So, hide your phone. For a whole day, if you can. Have a friend hide it for you or respond on your behalf letting everyone know that you will get back to them soon. See how free it makes you feel.

Some of these ideas might seem a bit challenging to implement in our busy lives, but we can try all of them with some planning and help from our friends. Give some of them a try and see how renewed and ready you feel afterward. If you want, drop us a note at hello@renewalworkshop.com and tell us what you tried and how it went.

Also in (RE)NEWS

Books for bottles
Books for bottles
The best way we can share the Renewable Life with our kids is by setting a great example. This Italian cafe inspires students to rethink ...

Read More

Where does our stuff really go?
Where does our stuff really go?
When we are done with the stuff, it has to go somewhere, and we then think of it as ‘away’, at least from us. But there is no ‘away...

Read More

Start a stuff journal
If you want to build up the habit of staying renewed, start out by tracking some simple metrics. Become more mindful of your impact...

Read More