|May 8, 2024

Digital Detox Guide: 8 Active Ways to Unplug This Summer

By Sarah Kuta
Reviewed by Theresa Greenwell for Scientific Accuracy on 05/08/2024

Digital Detox Guide: 8 Active Ways to Unplug This Summer

  • Screens can be harmful to your physical and mental health, contributing to eye strain, sleep problems and long periods without physical activity.
  • A digital detox is the perfect antidote to all this screen time. Ditch your cell phone and laptop, then head outside for a quick refresh and recharge.
  • Disconnecting from all your devices and spending time in nature can help lower your stress levels, improve your focus and encourage you to move your body. Learn how to plan a digital detox retreat for yourself.

Between your phone, your laptop, your smartwatch and your TV, it’s easy to feel as if your life has been completely taken over by screens. While all this technology is good for connecting with colleagues and learning new things in our increasingly digital world, it can also be damaging to our physical and mental health.

A digital detox can help you cut back on screen time (even just for a few hours) and regain control over your media consumption habits. Read on to learn more about the benefits of planning a digital detox and how to make one happen in your own life.

What is a digital detox?

Man working on laptop reaching a point of exhaustion

For many people, a typical day goes something like this: Wake up and check email on your cell phone. Listen to a podcast on the drive into work. Spend the next eight hours staring at your desktop or laptop screen. On your coffee break, scroll social media on your mobile phone. Listen to another podcast on the way home. Watch Netflix or play video games until it’s time for bed.

Intuitively, you can tell that all of this screen time and media use in your everyday life is bad for your well-being. But the negative effects of all these digital devices are more than just skin deep. Excessive screen time can lead to:

  • Poor eye health: Blue light, the umbrella term used to describe the light emitted from most screens, has been linked to some harmful side effects, including eye strain and potential eye damage.[1] In addition to limiting your screen time, using a supplement like Bulletproof Eye Armor can provide an extra layer of protection for your eyes.
  • Brain changes: Particularly among teens and other young people, too much screen time can actually change the structure and function of the brain.[2]
  • Decreased activity: Unless you’ve got a standing desk, most of us are sitting down at our computers throughout the workday. Screens are pretty much synonymous with sedentary behavior, which research has linked to health issues like increased risk of obesity and heart disease.[3]
  • Sleep problems: Researchers have tied screen exposure to sleep issues, as well as next-morning lack of alertness.[4]

When to embark on a digital detox

Woman laying in a boat by the ocean

Though there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to embarking on a digital detox, there are some ways you can set yourself up for success when unplugging. If you’re planning a digital detox, pick a period of time for disconnecting that help supports your efforts. For example, it’s understandable that most of us want to curl up on the couch and binge-watch our favorite shows when the weather is dreary. Plan your digital detox during the summer, instead, when the weather is warm and beckoning you to spend more time outside and less time in front of your screens.

Or, treat yourself to a digital detox after you wrap up a big project (definitely avoid scheduling a digital detox during the busiest week of the month at work). Consider waiting until you can actually decompress, stop checking email and turn off your brain for a while. And, while easier said than done, this could be the ideal remedy when you’re feeling burnt out. If you’re already there though, then you’re long overdue for a digital detox. Make a plan ASAP to help recharge your depleted batteries!

Related: 11 Relaxing Staycation Ideas for a Much-Needed Break

Try our Bulletproof Digital Detox Challenge

Bulletproof Digital Detox Challenge graphic

At Bulletproof, we’re encouraging everyone to get outside this summer to embark on a digital detox (especially after what feels like an eternity of being cooped up during the COVID-19 pandemic!).

Not a pro planner? No problem. We’ve curated this list of fun and device-free ways to get away from your screens and into nature.

1. Embark on a no-GPS-allowed road trip

When was the last time you just hit the open road without a plan or a destination in mind? For something totally different, consider planning a GPS-less road trip and see what hidden gems you discover when you take the road less traveled.

2. Do sun salutations in the woods

Grab your yoga mat and your Bulletproof Zen Mode and head to a forest or nearby nature preserve for a truly mindful practice.

3. Sing a song while paddleboarding

Rent a paddleboard at a nearby lake or beach, then paddle off (safely) away from the crowds. When you’re alone with the fishes, belt your favorite song at the top of your lungs—it’s a great stress-reliever, trust us!

4. Go for a long hike with a coworker

Get to know your coworker outside of Slack and IRL (in real life). And don’t forget to bring a few protein bars for a trail-side energy boost!

5. Play an instrument in a forest

Goodbye, Spotify. Hello, ukulele (or whatever your instrument of choice!).

6. Sleep under the stars

Ditch the tent and fall asleep staring up at the Milky Way. There’s nothing quite like a sky illuminated in the wilderness, sans light pollution!

7. Go on a rollerskating happy hour

Let them stare! Put on your most colorful pair of sunnies and skate through the neighborhood; maybe even stop for an ice cream cone while you’re at it.

8. Swing a kettlebell in the park

Change up your workout routine and skip the gym. Opt for an outdoor workout in the park, instead. Ain’t no shame in those gains!

Digital detox packing list

Two people hiking and holding Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars

When planning for a digital detox, your packing list is just as important as your unpacking list—that is, the stuff you want to be sure to leave at home. To make the most of your time unplugging, be sure to bring:

  • Supplements and nutrients to support your journey: Set yourself up for success by bringing along supplements and nutrients that will help promote wellness while you limit your tech use. For sustained digital detox-worthy energy without caffeine, toss Bulletproof Brain Octane Softgels in your backpack. For help recharging your batteries, supplement with Bulletproof Forbose. And for those moments when you aspire to reach a new level of calm while you’re away from your screens, go with Zen Mode.
  • A journal: Pack an old-fashioned pen-and-paper journal to document your thoughts and emotions during your digital detox journey. In case you needed a reminder: no taking notes on your phone!
  • Gear to support your activity of choice: Whether it’s a hammock to string up among the trees or a fishing pole for a few blissful hours on the dock, make sure you bring all the gear needed for a successful screen-free outing.
  • Snacks to keep you satiated: Delicious Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars are easy to bring along for the journey.

Related: How to Stay Keto While You’re in the Great Outdoors

What NOT to bring on your digital detox retreat

NO screens, period. No exceptions.

That means no iPhones, Androids, iPads, Kindles, laptops or smartwatches. If you bring them, you’ll be too tempted to just sneak a peek. Leave all of your screens at home, even if it’s just for an hour to start.

We promise: You can do this!

The lasting benefits of a digital detox retreat

A girl smiles while standing on top of a hill

Sure, a digital detox can help you feel better in the moment. But it can also have some lasting benefits for your physical and mental health.

Spending more time in nature (and less time staring at screens) can help your body produce vitamin D, which is responsible for supporting everything from bone health to immune function. Research has also connected time spent in nature with lower blood pressure and lower stress hormone levels when compared to an urban city environment (which explains why you actually feel yourself relax when you hit the hiking trail or hop on your bike for a period of time!).[5]

In addition, you’ll be breathing fresher, cleaner air and moving your body, which is good for lowering your risk of chronic diseases and improving your cardiovascular health. Plus, you may notice increased focus levels and reduced stress after your digital detox. Still, your memory and your improved cognitive function will also thank you for the vacation from screens. Finally, many people report they sleep better when they limit their screen time, especially right before bed.

The bottom line: In our hyper-techie world, ditching the screens every now and then is a must. When you plan a digital detox and limit your use of technology, you’ll experience the very real benefits of spending more time in nature, more time engaging in genuine face-to-face social interactions and less time being sucked in by digital media and phone use. Untethering yourself from your mobile devices and spending more authentic time in the real world is one of the best gifts you can give yourself, even if it’s only for a few hours.

Searching for more ways to connect with nature this summer? Check out this list of fun outdoor activities anyone can do!

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