This is what unplugged looks like! She is four years old and has walked into the water spontaneously because something deep inside compelled her to. Her curiosity and inner wisdom whispered this idea to her and told her that it would be good. When she got far enough in she opened her arms and began to sing. She sang a song to the lake that she had never sung before, that no one had ever sung before. Her voice floated on the waves and drifted in the wind and fluttered in the leaves of the nearby trees. She became one with herself and the lake and the sky.
This is the magic of unplugging. When we disconnect from our devices we can reconnect to ourselves. Celebrate National Day of Unplugging by reconnecting to yourself and your loved ones in any of these 20 Ways. (Or create your own!)
- Walk outside. If it’s raining, open an umbrella and listen to the drops. Or, open your mouth and drink them. If it’s snowing, let the flakes melt on your face. If it’s clear, breathe it in. Keep walking. Let go of thoughts. Just be in your walk.
- Stand in sunlight and look at your shadow. Move around and watch it follow you. Make bunny ears. Butterfly arms. Dance. Watch yourself be free.
- Bake bread. From scratch. With yeast. Feel the softness and the stickiness as you sift and knead. Feel your hands connect with the dough. Watch it rise. Eat it warm.
- Decorate your car or home or drinking glasses with washable window markers. Make squares or flowers or rivers or faces or squiggles. Draw big. Draw small. Draw whatever brings you joy.
- Put a bar of Ivory soap in the microwave for 1 – 2 minutes (on a paper towel or plate.) Watch it grow! Then spread it around the counter or table and run your hands through it. Mold, sculpt, squish. Play.
- Walk barefoot on round, buttery snack crackers on a hard surface. Feel the tickle and the scratch and the crunch and the crumbs. Slide around. Celebrate your feet and your sense of touch.
- Make a time capsule. In a box or jar or other container, put bits of things that have meaning in your life today. A ticket stub? A baby rattle? A diploma? An earring? A photo? Seal it up, not to be opened for 5 years.
- Write a letter (on paper!) to the person you’ve known the longest in your life. Tell them what you remember.
- Go outside and listen. Stay outside until you’ve heard 10 sounds from the natural world. The sound of walking through gravel counts. So does whistling through a piece of grass. So do bird calls and wind. Thank your ears.
- Choose 5 things from your fridge or pantry. With their eyes closed, let your friend or family member try to identify each one by smell only. If they guess all 5, give them 5 more. Then switch and try it yourself. Breathe deep.
- Find paper. Write what you’ve always wanted to say. Keep writing until it’s all out. Don’t think ahead, just spill. Drifting off topic is allowed.
- Read the folk tale, “Stone Soup.” Then make stone soup. Add extra stones if you’d like. Taste it. Share it.
- Make a tent out of sheets and chairs. Or whatever else you need. Notice what the light looks like from the inside. Invite others in.
- Tell stories. Together. Ghost stories. Old family stories. True stories. Made-up stories. Unbelievable stories. Funny stories. Notice how they feel in your body.
- Go on a scavenger hunt. Ring doorbells in your neighborhood looking for: a toothpick, an empty cardboard tube, a 1998 coin, a green ribbon, a pretzel, an unsharpened pencil. Or simply walk outside to find: a feather, a bud, a seed, something from last fall, a red stone, a footprint. Give a prize to whoever finds the most. Or work as a team and give prizes to everyone.
- Lie on your back on the floor. Close your eyes. Let go. Breathe. Link fingers if there’s someone next to you. Just be.
- See if you’re one of those rare people who can: hum while holding your nose – tickle yourself – raise only one eyebrow – talk while inhaling through your nose – wiggle your ears – draw the number 6 while making clockwise circles with your leg – touch your tongue to your nose. Accept all outcomes! (From the guided journal, Put Your Feelings Here.)
- Measure the heights of everyone in your family or friend group (including pets) and mark them with masking tape on a wall or door. Note the date and everyone’s name. Plan to check again in 6 months so you can say, “My how you’ve grown.”
- Plan your dream vacation: Place – weather – scenery – who you’re with – what you’re wearing – what you’re doing. Then close your eyes and imagine it in detail: colors, textures, sounds, tastes, smells. Feel it in every fiber of your being. Your mind and body will respond as if you’re actually there.
- Find a tool box. Find some materials. Build something. Something you know, or something you have no idea about. Create. See what happens.
If it feels good, plan a day of unplugging every season, or week, or randomly as you need it. Come back to yourself!
Lisa M. Schab received a Bachelor of Science degree in interpersonal communications from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in clinical social work with honors from Loyola University of Chicago. She has 30 years experience as a practicing psychotherapist and 40 years experience as a freelance writer. Lisa has authored 18 self-help books for children, teens, and adults, including the international best-sellers, The Anxiety Workbook for Teens and The Self-Esteem Workbook for Teens. She has been interviewed as an expert for articles appearing in The New York Times, Scholastic Choices Magazine, Teen Vogue, Psych Central, Today’s Parent, Parent Circle, and The Mother Company, among others. She has also written professional training courses available for continuing education credit through Professional Development Resources (www.pdresources.com,) and has authored regular columns on Tweens & Teens for Chicago Parent Magazine and Healthy Families for Sun Newspapers. Earlier in her career she spent six years as an early childhood teacher and one year as a school social worker. Lisa is a member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW.)