How To Completely Unplug From Your Smartphone For An Entire Day

03/06/2015 08:26 am ET | Updated Mar 06, 2015
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It's time for a collective admission: We're all a little tech obsessed.

How could we not be? We live in a 24/7, always-on culture. But stepping away from those screens -- even if it's just for a little while -- is crucial for optimal health. So what better day to do it than on the National Day of Unplugging?

Perhaps one of the most challenging parts of going off the grid is finding ways to occupy your time. We use our devices so much (almost three hours per day to be exact) that it feels like second nature to use them as ways to pass the minutes. But fear not: Whether it's getting in touch with your creative side or reconnecting with old friends, we've got your device-free schedule covered for the next 24 hours. Happy unplugging!

morning coffee

Start your day with some Sun Salutations. Yoga has so many mind-body benefits -- from relaxation to strength training -- it's hard to choose just one reason why you should pick up the practice. Need help getting started? Print out these suggestions for simple morning yoga poses.

Thumb through a newspaper. You can even do the puzzles for an added brain-boosting bonus.

Transform your coffee into a relaxing ritual. Most days we consume coffee as if it's a lifeline rather than an enjoyable drink. Make your morning cup of joe (or tea!) a meditative moment instead. Here are some tricks to help you get started.

Cook up a delicious brunch. You've always wanted to try making that baked-egg-in-an-avocado dish, you've just never brought yourself to do it (OK, maybe that's just me). If avocados aren't your thing, try one of these scrumptious recipes instead.

Get lost in a good book. Not on your Kindle, but an old-fashioned, paper-paged novel. Reading has a host of healthy benefits. Studies show the activity can help you sleep better and even make you more empathetic.

Create some photo albums. Take a journey down memory lane -- it's good for you (and good for a few laughs). Nostalgia may also help counteract loneliness, boredom and anxiety, the New York Times reported.

Move your feet. Exercise isn't just good for our physical wellness -- it has emotional wellness perks, too. Go for a long run, try a new workout class or just take a stroll in the park. You'd be amazed at how much better you feel.

Tidy up around your apartment. There's no time like the present to start that spring cleaning, right?

afternoon drive

Volunteer. Studies show we're happier and less stressed when we give back -- and we may even live longer, too.

Play with Fido. Your pet loves you unconditionally, so repay him by giving your undivided attention. According to one 2014 survey, 20 percent of pet owners would give up cuddle time with their furry friends in favor of using their smartphones. Woof.

Explore your own city. When was the last time you visited a new restaurant, park or a part of town you've never ventured to? Take this tech-free time to fall in love with your neighborhood all over again (and if you do it by foot, you'll sneak in some exercise in the process).

Go for an aimless drive. There's nothing quite like the mental clarity that comes with just your thoughts and the open road. The best part? There won't be the slightest temptation to text while driving.

Take a snooze. Refresh your mind with a few Zzs. Naps have been shown to increase creativity, boost learning and improve your mood. Not too shabby.

People watch. Curiosity may have "killed the cat," but it's great for us humans. Strengthen your sense of wonder by genuinely observing the people around you. Research shows it may have a positive influence on your emotional health.

Try your hand at painting. Get out those watercolors. It doesn't matter if you're Picasso or a finger painter, this activity has been shown to help relieve stress.

Go grocery shopping. How many times have we rushed through the store during the week? Make buying groceries a process. Map out your list of healthy foods you'd like to purchase before you head out. Just make sure not to go shopping on an empty stomach!


Catch up with old friends over dinner. Swap FaceTime for some real face time (just make sure to schedule the date before you power down your devices). Want your friends to join in on your unplugging adventure? Have them play the "phone stacking" game while you're out. The first one to pick up their phone also picks up the tab.

Play a board game. Does Candy Crush give you the opportunity to collect $200 when you pass go? Nope!

Indulge in a little meditation. You don't have to be lifelong meditator to reap the benefits of a little silence. Meditation can reduce stress, improve concentration and increase happiness. If you're new to the practice, here are a few tips for getting started.

Watch the sun set. Awe-inspiring moments -- sans smartphone -- are a beautiful sight to behold. As it turns out, they also can boost our emotional health. Win-win.

Bake a few healthy desserts. As the saying goes, "'Stressed' is 'desserts' spelled backwards." Why not de-stress by taking on a little baking project? Perfect the art of oatmeal cookie bites or one of these other sweet treats. Bonus: They're all under 50 calories.

Scribble down your thoughts. Diaries aren't just for pre-teens. Journaling can benefit anyone, no matter the age or gender. Let your stream of consciousness flow onto paper or jot down a few things you're grateful for -- your brain will thank you for it.

Teach yourself something new. If you've ever wanted to learn French or how to play the guitar, now's your chance. According to one 2007 study, our brains retain new information more effectively during the evening.

If all else fails, go to bed early. Everyone needs their beauty rest. May as well take advantage of an early bedtime when you don't have emails to distract you. Sleep tight!

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