National Day of Unplugging: 5 Ways to Become More Mindful Of The Time You Spend Online

Measure Your Use, Cut Back, Or Unplug Entirely With These Tips
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National Day of Unplugging: 5 Ways to Become More Mindful Of The Time You Spend Online

This Saturday, March 7th, is the National Day of Unplugging. For some people, putting down their phone and stepping away from their computer is no problem. But for others, the easily accessible spikes of dopamine that come from scrolling and searching is a bit harder to part with. 

On average, Canadians spend over five hours a day on the internet, with almost two hours of that time spent on social media. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, the reward centre of the brain is more activated when we get notifications on social media, showing brain activity that’s similar to that of a substance addict.

Long story short: We can all benefit from unplugging for a little bit.

But wait! Before you turn off your phone or shut down that computer, we’d like to share five easy ways you can decrease (or become more mindful of) your internet consumption.

1. Track Your Usage And Set Limits

The first step to decreasing the time you spend online is finding out how much time you spend online. If you have an Apple device, you can use Screen Time to see reports on your internet usage and set your own limits. For Android users, Google has Digital Wellbeing available on Android 10 and above which can provide a similar service. You may also be able to see your usage by going to Settings > Battery > Battery Usage, which breaks down how much time and battery power has been spent on your apps since you last fully-charged your phone.

2. Give It A Time And Place

If you’re someone who refreshes multiple social media platforms an hour (guilty) and tends to get sucked into black holes of content (also guilty), “small” moments spent online can turn into hours. Instead, try having a limited designated time during the day where you can scroll to your heart’s content. Maybe it’s while you have your morning coffee, only during your commute, or perhaps you spend weekends social media-free; finding a balance that works for you is key.

3. Give It Purpose

Sometimes you just need to unplug from the wrong type of content. Repositioning your social media use in a positive direction can help you take back the negative hold it can have on your time and mindset. For example, instead of scrolling through Facebook to see what those classmates-turned-strangers are doing, or feeling yourself rage as you read endless political takes on Twitter, find (or create) positive spaces on the internet. This could mean gathering inspiration for creative projects, finding new food blogs to glean ideas from, or learning something new entirely!

4. Don’t Do It Alone

Accountability is powerful, and so is having a group of supportive friends. If you’ve been wanting to unplug or cut down on your internet/social media use, you probably have someone in your life who wants to, too. Let those who regularly reach out to you online (and real life!) know that you’re stepping back. Who knows — they may just want to join you in a show of offline solidarity!

5. Replace and Reignite

When you spend so much time online, it’s easy to put other interests and hobbies on the backburner. Whether it’s reading, hiking, playing a sport, or another hobby, unplugging can make room for a new (or reignited) passion — like a book club, perhaps? BooknBrunch recently held an event specifically based on 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week by Tiffany Shlain to explore this very topic!

All of this isn’t to say that we should log off the internet forever; BooknBrunch itself is a great example of how the internet can connect people in real life, in meaningful ways. But unplugging — whether it be for just one day or a few hours a day — can definitely do us all some good. 

If you’re looking to connect more IRL, we’d love to have you at one of our upcoming events! See what books we’ll be discussing, and if there’s something that catches your eye, grab a ticket.

Shannon Hodgen is a lifelong writer, DIY enthusiast, and homebody. She satisfies her need to put pen to paper–or, more accurately, fingertips to keyboard–as an agency copywriter, blog contributor, and freelance editor in Toronto.

Favourite Book: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Favourite Brunch Spot: Dirty Food Eatery in The Junction


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