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I’m a big proponent of disconnecting from everything once in a while. So much of our lives is online now, and while I think it’s for the better, I can still recognize that my screen time is through the roof and that some time away from my phone might be better for both of us. Because of Covid-19, however, this becomes much harder.

I’m taking classes remotely from the comfort of my parents’ apartment in Connecticut, which means that the only people I socialize with in-person are my parents and my sister. I’m relying on texting and phone calls much more than I ever did before to stay connected with everyone, but it can be exhausting. Being online all the time means you’re available all the time too, and as someone who will always reply to work Slack messages even when they’re after hours or on days I don’t work, I’m not always the best at setting those kinds of boundaries. Everyone needs them, whether it’s to retain a clear work/school-life balance, prevent burnout, or just maintain some semblance of sanity.

Here are some ways to disconnect a little, even in a world that’s almost totally online.

Do Not Disturb is your friend

I use Do Not Disturb on my Mac, and it’s my favorite thing. My friend swears by having it on her phone all the time, and while I can’t quite make that jump yet, I have realized that I’m happier and more productive on the days I do have it on. Escaping from those vibrations or notification pings can be incredibly helpful, whether the goal is relaxation or concentration. On Macs, you can’t have Do Not Disturb on 24/7, so my solution is having it on from 1:01 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. This way, I only get notifications one minute each day (and if I’m getting them at 1 in the morning, it’s a good reminder for me to reassess my life and probably go to bed).

Mute messages

On Slack, you can choose to not receive notifications after a certain time. With iMessages, you can have Do Not Disturb on at certain times, or you can altogether mute certain chats (great for huge group chats). With social isolation, group chats have seemed to flourish even more, and while they’re a great solution to the in-office/in-classroom bonding that we might ordinarily have, constant pinging can definitely be a stressor.

Let your phone/laptop die

I don’t know how good this is for your batteries, but I find that waiting for my phone to revive can be the perfect break to really disconnect. I usually run to a charger when I’m running low, but when I don’t and my phone or laptop dies, I actually find it really relaxing. For a few minutes, I’m completely unavailable and just alone with my thoughts.

Journal or handwrite letters

I know journaling online can be so easy and convenient, but the few times I’ve tried, I’ve always been easily distracted by something else. If I have my laptop in front of me, it’s near impossible for me not to bounce around my email inboxes, texts, and the occasional online shopping site. Journaling by hand, or even writing letters to friends, is such a good reason to get away from that screen. Handwritten letters also hit different.

Although it may seem like it’s what the current world demands, constant availability isn’t good for your emotional health.

Try to disconnect more to save yourself from both the blue light and the burnout!

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Carina is a senior studying Economics + Psychology at Boston University. She is passionate about marketing, Sally Rooney, and caramel lattes.
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