During the holidays, so many things compete for your attention: gift-buying errands, family obligations, work-related holiday parties, wrapping, baking, and so on, and so forth. Add a steady stream of iPhone notifications related to scary world events and the many unattainable things Instagram influencers are spending the season doing to that list, and you might just not feel awesome about yourself. In other words, it’s a great time to disconnect. Doing so lets you actually enjoy quality time with the great people in your life.
NOTE: THIS IS NOT A DIGITAL DETOX! Rather than shutting things off for two weeks and dealing with the anxiety of digital withdrawal, simply apply a little more consciousness to your tech habits so you can rein them in just enough. Think of it like making some healthy swaps rather than going on a full-blown cleanse.
Here are some tips:
Turn off your notifications
Between Christmas and New Year’s, if you’re not working and aren’t required to respond to your manager’s “urgent” requests, the only “ding!” that should interrupt your time is the sound of jingle bells. Go through your apps with push notifications, and ask yourself whether you really need to be getting them this week.
Even if you can only silence or snooze a couple of apps, the change will be helpful. When you get a notification, you’re distracted from what you’re doing in real life.
Set a tech schedule
Another way to shift your tech habits from reactive to proactive is to have a plan for how you’ll engage with your phone and other devices during your downtime. For instance, maybe you need to check in on email a bit, so you set an hour each day for this task, then ignore your inbox the rest of the day.
Apple’s new Downtime feature can help a lot with that: It grays out apps after you’ve reached a pre-set time limit.
Shift your media go-to’s
Buy a newspaper, a few magazines, and/or a new book. Doing so will cut down the time you’d normally spend engaging with tech each day and your eyes on a screen.
Go old-school with your thoughts
Instead of posting your thoughts on social media, write them down in a journal. No, you won’t get the same feedback from the online masses, but writing with a pen or a pencil actually feels really, really good. In fact, research shows that journaling can help to regulate emotions and make you happier.
Do something where you can’t bring your phone
Another smart, surefire way to build digital downtime into your holiday is to plan activities that won’t allow you to use your phone while you’re there. Schedule a yoga or meditation class, or even a spa or sauna session. Better yet, invite your family members to go with you, so you’re getting holiday bonding time, too.
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