Digital detox: Replace screen time with activities to keep you healthy and happy

Mental Health Day is just around the corner and it is a good time to look for ways to keep your mind and body healthy. Here are some tips on how to use your weekends to recharge and feel refreshed by going on a digital detox

The current pandemic, series of lockdowns and the reality of social and physical distancing has pushed us to become more dependent on our gadgets – be it for work or entertainment.

While every person has his/her own set of reasons for this overdependence on technology – erratic work hours, online classes, virtual learning classes (think cooking masterclasses, exercise sessions or picking up a new skill), for most this dependence on gadgets is also due to extra time on one’s hands which otherwise might not have been a possibility.

While there are regular conversations and ongoing discussions on the long-term repercussions of this over-engagement with gadgets and technology on one’s health, unless people realise this fact on their own, change is quite unlikely.

Today, I see a lot of people considering the idea of going on a ‘Digital Detox’.

Many have come to believe that a digital detox is the best way to reconnect with family and friends, and pay more attention to health and work.

Here are some suggestions for alternate activities’ that can replace your usual screen time and improve your physical and mental health in the long run.

Take charge of your diet

Plan your meals to stay healthy

Taking care of your diet and health requires effort! Instead of spending time with your phone or laptop, or television, devote that time to relook at your everyday diet and food choices.

Refine your meals by making healthier and more nutritious food choices. Having to decide what to cook three times a day, every day might seem like a tedious task.

So, have your meals partly planned out, and bring in some fun yet healthy food items to your kitchen. Although ordering in is just a convenient option, you may order foods that may be detrimental for your health in the long run.

Begin by including whole grains, pulses, dals, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and dairy in your daily meal plan, with reduced fat, salt and sugar quantities. Include fluids like water, green tea, buttermilk, tender coconut water for hydration.

Iron-rich foods like dry fruits (dry dates, black currants), and dark green leafy vegetables (mint, coriander leaves, curry leaves, fenugreek leaves) should be consumed on a regular basis. Milk, curd, cheese, chia seeds, ragi, and almonds are great sources of calcium.

While it might be difficult to fight the temptation of unhealthy snacks, you can indulge in more rewarding snacks that will pay off in the long run.

For example, switch to almonds as they have a low glycemic index, besides nutrients like protein, fibre, good fats and important vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, magnesium and potassium.

Other healthful snack suggestions are boiled corn, steamed pulses, oats, muesli, makhanas or fresh fruit.

Get a new hobby

Replace your screen time with hobbies!

Hobbies are a great way to tickle your right brain, or the creative side – not only will they keep you entertained and limit you from reaching out for your phone or laptop, but they will also ease your mental stress and enhance your productivity.

Learn a new hobby or revive an old one, to relax your mind. 

Choose something you like or have always wanted to learn – but never had the time. Try something new like pottery or gardening, get your hands dirty and have fun. You can also give your brain some exercise, by answering trivia questions on your favourite topics, learning a new language or solving puzzles.

Have a cook-off with a twist!

If you want to try your hand at cooking, try adding a new twist to old recipes

Cooking with the help of your grandmother or any close family member’s recipes is one of the best ways to spend your time during a digital detox.

Try and add your own twist to your family recipes. It might not be a success the first time but keep experimenting with different ingredients – and you might just master it one day.

Adding Indian influences to a Western dish can spice things up a bit too. Play around with ingredients and taste foods which you've never eaten before.

Try out different cuisines and alter them to your tastes. From desserts to snacks and savoury dishes. The experience is always what counts.

Replace screen time with family time!

Use this time to strengthen bonds with your family or even yourself. If you live with your family, involve everyone in a game of Uno, Jenga, Twister or some filmy dumb charades or try old Indian games like Hopscotch, Indian Ludo or any other board games.

Maybe add in a bit of old-fashioned calligraphy to have some fun. Journaling is also a good way to spend time. Chronicle your days - you can write down your feelings or paint them too.

Another recreational thing to do over weekends is to indulge in some stargazing every evening. Taking some time off to admire nature and its beauty will help you feel calm and rejuvenated for the week ahead.

(Images credit: Shutterstock)

Edited by Asha Chowdary