Detaching ourselves from our phones can be brutally difficult. It seems like every part of our lives calls for us to be staring at a tiny screen. Even if we want some peace, we’re always drawn back in. But, maybe Christmas-time presents is with an opportunity. Many of us have some time away from work or school, and our daily routine is disrupted. More importantly, reality provides us with a lot of distractions right now, stopping our eyes drifting back to our social media feed of choice. So, embrace the opportunity we’ve been presented with, and use this time to have a Digital Detox. Here’s a few tips:

Get cozy and creative!

This is the perfect time to embrace your creative side with some offline activities. The options are endless. Baking and cooking are, of course, classics, and the season brings with it many a traditional recipe to indulge in. Look into some festive dishes from around the world you may not have tried before, or try your hand at making something at home you would usually only buy (that’ll be stollen for me this year).

Maybe there’s a hobby or craft you’ve been neglecting, or one you’ve been wanting to try. Whether it’s painting, knitting, songwriting or photography, it’s easy to find something to entertain you during these long winter nights. And if the desire takes you, all these hobbies can produce lovely and thoughtful Christmas presents for your loved ones. Get creatively inspired by the festivities around you.

Get outside for a breath of fresh air.

I’ll admit it can be difficult to enjoy the outdoors for a lot of the Northern hemisphere at this time of year. However, on the occasions when the weather outside is a little less than frightful, we can seize the opportunity to enjoy it. The winter period can provide a lot to delight in. For example, countryside walks take on a severe and striking beauty. Go out first thing in the morning, when the sun is rising, and there’s frost sparkling on leaves and cobwebs. Alternatively, for the urban dwellers, head out and marvel at the Christmas lights and décor around town, whether it be the Christmas tree in the city center, or that one house that really goes all out every year. No need to head out with a purpose in mind, just stretch your legs and clear your mind with twinkling lights.

If you need that purpose, head out and support small businesses in your area, it’s been a tough couple of years for them. From cafes to craft fairs, there’s plenty on offer to enjoy, and plenty of opportunities for gift buying for others, or yourself! Many cities will also have Christmas markets decked out in festive finery. Meet some friends there for a cup of mulled wine/glühwein/glögg/etc. (whatever your local warming drink of choice is).

Take time to connect with people, or yourself.

For many, the festive period is a time when friends and families gather together, maybe for the first time in a long time. It’s so easy for our phones to get between us though. Appreciating each others’ company is a lot easier without your phone constantly demanding your attention. We’ve been hard wired to answer its demands, in case it might be important, in case we’re missing out on something. Even if we know that what’s most important is paying attention to the people you’re with, it’s hard to maintain that focus because of social media.

Alternatively, if you’re going solo this Christmas, or just keeping it very small, you have the opportunity to take some time to yourself. Hunker down and basically, do whatever you want! Revisit the old movies and tv shows you’ve always loved, or take up arms against the parched skin and crispy hair that crops up in these winter conditions. Since it’s the end of the year, it can also be a good time for some life organising. You could Marie Kondo or Cliff Tan your home, or just get those years-old dust bunnies out from under the sofa. Maybe you could outline some goals for the new year: things you’d like to do, places you’d like to go, how you’d like to advance in your education/career/scrap-booking club. Get ready to embrace the New Year.

And if you’re tempted to go back?

There’s a few ways to make sure you stick to your Digital Detox plan. The first might be obvious, but it’s key to success. Don’t have your phone nearby. For good measure, add tablets and laptops to that. As they say: out of sight, out of mind. It’ll be easier to forget about checking notifications if you don’t hear them come in. You don’t need to go as far as locking it up, but an out-of-the-way cupboard or storage box would do the trick.

Next, let people know what you’re doing. You can set aside a short amount of time each day to check for genuinely important messages. Then, inform family and friends that you will be reachable at that time. Set an alarm or timer to remind yourself to put down the phone when you’re finished. We all know how easy it is to get sucked into scrolling, when all we wanted was the time.

Lastly, plan for your Digital Detox. If you need travel directions, restaurant contact details, origami instructions, anything from the internet that you can think of that you may need during your detox time, get it before you start. There are some things we do actually need the internet for. Getting those sorted out before your break will keep you away from your phone and give you peace of mind.

So, I hope my advice is helpful and you have a relaxing and enjoyable festive period, free from the stresses of social media and the internet.

Polly Cumming

Polly Cumming is a British literary graduate keen on writing about human existence in this moment in time. She's thrilled to see some positive change in the world of social media.