Much as I love Netflix (I just finished rewatching Yu Yu Hakusho last week. Huhuhu. My childhood!), I do admit I could benefit from less screen time altogether. When you work remotely, you tend to spend a good part of your waking hours staring at your laptop or desktop screen as it is.
Technology’s brought many benefits to our lives. It makes remote work possible, expedites processes like shopping and booking a delivery, and even enhances our recreational hours.
However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Being glued to your phone or laptop can hurt your eyes over time, for one. Spending too much time on social media can also increase your anxiety levels and affect your mental health too.
Furthermore, exposure to screens before bedtime can diminish the quality of your sleep. And we all know how crucial good sleep is to mindfulness, and to productivity, as a result.
So, what’s the alternative? Well, here are fifteen, and none of them involve staring at a screen:
1. Take a long, indulgent shower or bath.
You know? The sort you don’t have time for in the mornings? So, go ahead. Light some scented candles (do keep them away from flammable materials in your bathroom, though). Use that fancy body wash that smells heavenly. Take time to give yourself a good scrubbing all over, and apply your favorite lotion afterwards for a real treat.
You can even put on your favorite playlist while you’re at it.
2. Read a good book.
When was the last time you lost yourself in a good story? And no, a Netflix marathon doesn’t count.
A good book, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, has the power to transport you to a different world for a few hours – without the glare of a screen. Pick up a favorite novel or one that you’ve always been curious about to wind down after work.
3. Plan your dream vacation.
Huh? Why? It’s not like we can go anywhere right now, right?
Precisely, so you have all the time in the world to plan a vacation for when the pandemic is all over. Think about which country you’ve always wanted to visit. Browse through some travel magazines or books on its famous sites. Imagine how you would spend a week there.
Then write it all down and come up with a plan to save up for that trip.
There’s nothing quite like scribbling your thoughts on paper. You don’t even need to be coherent about it. Simply write down whatever comes to mind. You’ll be surprised at how therapeutic it can be, and how it can help you get out of your head for a bit.
If you’re stuck, you can start by answering simple questions like:
- How did your day go?
- What irritates you the most?
- What are you worried about right now?
Basically, try to pose questions that will help you untangle your thoughts.
5. Try an adult coloring book.
Once you try it, you’ll wonder why we ever gave coloring books up as we got older. Whether you prefer to use colored pencils, crayons, or even watercolor paints, coloring allows you to let your mind wander freely while you engage in a relaxing activity.
Plus, it can be very gratifying to watch a drawing come to life when you pick the right colors.
6. Do some pre-bedtime yoga stretches.
No, this isn’t as strenuous as aerobic or cardiovascular exercises. These stretches may also help relieve the strain on your back after a day spent sitting down. Check it out below:
7. Work on a puzzle.
Puzzles aren’t just for kids. There are some out there that’ll be challenging enough to be engaging, but still fairly chill so you won’t dread doing them.
By the way, don’t feel pressured to complete one in an evening. Start with a week-long puzzle and ease into it.
8. Get crafty.
If you’ve always wanted to learn how to knit or do cross-stitching, now’s the perfect time. There are plenty of starter kits available online, so look for those with complete instructions and materials.
While you’re at it, you might want to make a homemade present for a friend’s upcoming birthday too. This way, you get to entertain yourself and save money on gifts. Wicked.
9. Play with your pets.
When you’re not glued to a screen, you can offer your animal friends your undivided attention. Play a game of catch, cuddle up with them in bed, or do whatever else your cuddly friends enjoy.
10. Do a crossword puzzle.
Forget Candy Crush. Go give your noggin’ a fun workout with a crossword puzzle or two instead. Get an old-fashioned one from the newspaper and use a pencil rather than downloading a crossword app. Your eyes (and vocabulary) will thank you for it.
11. Organize your closet.
I know, I know. It sounds like a chore, but this can be strangely therapeutic. A cluttered closet can be a great source of anxiety, even if you don’t realize it.
So, if you’ve got time after work, go dive in and sort out which ones you’d keep, dispose of, or give away. You’ll feel a lot better once your closet is neater, trust me.
Also, as with the puzzles, decluttering a closet isn’t something you need to get done right away. Try setting aside, say, fifteen minutes a day for the task to make it less stressful. (Though you might enjoy yourself so much that you’ll end up spending more time doing it.)
12. Prep your breakfast for tomorrow.
Like cooking? Spend some time in the kitchen to unwind. For starters, you can try making some overnight oats. Put some instant oatmeal in a jar with milk or cream, and your favorite toppings, such as chocolate chips, fruit slices, or nuts. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Voilà! Breakfast is covered tomorrow.
13. Call a friend.
Missing someone? Give them a call. Come on, you can do it, fellow introvert.
14. Make a to-do list for the following day.
This might not sound as fun as the other items on this list, but it can still help you unwind. If you can’t sleep thinking about all the things you need to do tomorrow, write them down. That way, you’ll get them out of your head and sleep soundly knowing that you don’t have to scramble upon waking.
15. Turn up the music and dance.
An oldie but goodie, rocking out to your favorite songs is a surefire way to release stress. It’s great exercise too.
This isn’t to say that you can’t indulge in a Netflix marathon every now and then. (I certainly will.) No, only that we should take the time to rediscover the world beyond our screens, and what it has to offer. There is more to life than what we curate and see on our feeds, after all.
Right, I’m off to try that adult coloring book then.