I probably should have warned you all when I decided to take an internet detox a few weeks ago. It was unplanned, one morning I woke up and realized I could not go on my computer. Then, a day turned into a few days and a few days turned into a few weeks, and here we are. As an introvert and an artist, I need to take breaks. I need to reflect without the constant chatter of social media taking up space in my brain. I need to feel the quiet of my own mind instead of the dialogue from whatever movie I last watched. But, I’m sorry if I left you hanging!
Our lives are almost entirely virtual these days. You can order dinner, find a date, get a job, watch a movie, binge on a whole season of your favorite show, get your groceries delivered, catch up with old friends, and even get a college degree all through the internet! Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Wikipedia, Amazon, and Pinterest take up such huge sections of our lives, not just as recreational activities but also as required for the modern workplace. I’ve used Facebook as part of every job I’ve had since graduating from college in 2010.
But all this internet can become exhausting without balance. When I’m out of balance I fall back into old habits, get take out in plastic containers, eat popcorn for dinner, and neglect taking out my compost. These major pitfalls, the reason why most people think sustainable living is so hard, happen because we’re all overworked, overstimulated, and too tired to try one more thing. The lesson is clear:
We cannot live sustainable lives if we’re not first sustainable with ourselves first.
So I hope you didn’t mind my little break too much. I really needed to do the dishes, clean my house (using Compost & Cava’s amazing vinegar cleaner), organize my studio, reconnect with Amanda after she spent three weeks working in Puerto Rico, and focus on some non-blog related writing projects.
I feel much better after my internet detox, more focused, and ready to get back to it, hopefully, a little more balanced than when I left you. If you too need to go on your own internet detox, here are my top suggestions for unwinding. It’s spring, the weather is beautiful, go out and enjoy it.
Detox From Social Media
I’ve spent so much of my adult life on Facebook I could write a book about it. About a year ago, I just stopped going on. Cold tofurky. I deleted the app from my phone. I informed everyone I knew to text me about major life events. Guess what? Life after Facebook goes on. I do use it a little bit for blogging, but I never click the home button. The newsfeed on Facebook is a dangerous place to linger too long.
If you rely on Facebook to get your news, might I suggest the radio or a podcast? What about an oldfashioned newspaper at the library? Retro, huh?
Take a Break From Netflix and Chill
I can hear you already. “Elana, the second part of that phrase, is chill.” I know. But some of us don’t feel chill after watching four hours of television, even if it is commercial free. When Amanda came home from Puerto Rico, we decided to take a serious break from watching movies and tv shows, especially as a couple. We wanted to reconnect, chat, catch up, and have more time to be creative. The past few weeks have been bliss. I don’t even miss the act of passively watching. Sure, the occasional movie (remember when we used to rent those in person?) is great, but I kept saying should I be watching a movie every night? How many episodes of Dawson’s Creek do you really need to absorb in one sitting?
If you have to have something on in the background while you do stuff, try a documentary instead of a show.
Go For A Walk
I don’t own a car so unless I want to pay money to get a car share for the day or hop in a lyft, I’m a pedestrian. You can learn a lot about your surroundings by walking. I’ve walked miles through every city I’ve lived in and I always end up a lot more inspired from walking than driving. Of course, it takes longer to get places, but sometimes when you’re in a creative slump a good walk can really get things going again.
Bonus, leave your smart phone at home. If you get lost, see what happens when you ask for directions. (Of course, please be safe.)
Read A Book
Speaking of books, remember the library? Libraries are a great public resource that allow us to read books without buying them or collecting more paper that just sits in our living rooms. I do buy books still, especially if a book is special to me. There are also a ton of little neighborhood library boxes all over Berkeley, so free reading material can be found just about anywhere I go.
Get In The Garden
My dad says gardening is good for the immune system. He bases this off of zero science, but I’m inclined to agree considering how much I love gardening. If you need a lesson on how to start your own, check out my beginner’s guide. April is the perfect time to plant squash, tomatoes, strawberries, and other summer favorites!
Take A Class
A have a friend who takes all these amazing creative classes. She’s taken sewing, ceramics, and printmaking, I have one of her bowls in the kitchen and I use a tiny dish she made to hold my wedding ring. I’ve always been the kind of person to just jump in on my own when I want to take up a new hobby, but taking a class can be a fun way to learn a new skill, meet new friends, and support a local artist. Remember- the people who teach these classes are creative professionals who likely teach to support their passion.
Cook From Scratch
Buy a new cookbook if necessary, pull out an old family recipe, or just get creative. Whatever route you take, vow to stop ordering takeout for at least two weeks and see what kinds of delicious meals you’re able to make. I’m often inspired by what’s growing in the garden, or new seasonal produce at the grocery store. Absolutely make your partner, spouse or roommate chop the garlic for you, having sous chef can be a big help. Want inspiration? I love 101 Cookbooks. Another Bay Area blogger, Heidi Swanson’s recipes always make me want to chop something. I was first introduced to her when we went over to a friend’s house for dinner and was graced with her beautiful cookbook, which I’m a huge fan of.
What are other ways to unplug and detox from the internet? Let me know in the comments, send me a message, or tell me about it on Instagram.
Also- Even though I just spent all this time encouraging you to get offline, I’m getting back online, so don’t forget to check back here periodically for some new DIY tutorials, recipes, and my latest refashion.