March 2nd marks the official National Day of Unplugging, which is designed to force the technology addicted to put down their devices for a day of rest.
As much as we love (and I mean love) our smartphones, laptops, tablets, and more, we can all agree that we need a break from them from time to time. It doesn't help that some of us spend more time looking at devices than doing anything else. Here, four concrete ways to break free of the digital chain and enjoy what's in front of you, other than a screen.
- Tech-free retreat: Sure, you could take a trip to a place with no Internet service if you really want to go without your gadgets. But the thing about a retreat like this one, aptly named Digital Detox ($500-$950), is that not only do attendees trade in their smartphones for four days, but they also focus on personal wellness and finding peace of mind. How? By taking up activities like yoga, meditation, and hiking on a peaceful ranch in Ukiah, CA. The ultimate goal: "rediscovering what living in the moment truly feels like."
- Happy hour: Thanks to the same folks behind Digital Detox, you can check your phones at the door while enjoying board games, a massage lounge, live music, and libations at an event called Device-Free Drinks. While these public happy hours usually take place throughout San Francisco, you can email the company about hosting a private one at your own office or party. Now you'll have to face those awkward moments of silence without the help of your cell phone. Who knows? You might actually enjoy them.
- Hotels: What better time to take a break from tech life than when you're on vacation? Many hotels throughout the country have made the separation anxiety easier by taking your devices and offering board games and other fun activities instead. The tranquility suite at the Hotel Monaco in Chicago is one oasis, as is the Hotel Renaissance Pittsburgh where gadgets are surrendered at check-in and the TV, phone, and docking stations are replaced by literary classics.
- Apps: Of course, there are ways to quit your smartphone addiction using, well, your smartphone. An app called Digital Detox (inspired by the retreat and only available for Android users) lets you completely disable your phone for however long you choose. The same concept lies behind the app Sabbath Manifesto (available on iOS and Android). Oh, the irony.