The benefits of tuning out your tech on the National Day of Unplugging Day are so much greater than a simple respite from all those message alerts. Here’s how to pass the time (and why). 

By Brigitt Earley
Updated March 05, 2015
Tablet, iPhone, and computer.
Credit: Regis Vincent/Getty Images

Is your cellphone chirping all. the. time? You’re not the only one experiencing a deluge of digital stimuli. Every 24 hours, people send 27 billion SMS text messages, download 189 million apps, and place 12 billion calls. And that’s just from smartphones. Another 182 billion emails are sent worldwide each day.

The convenience of being tethered to your tech is obvious, but the reasons to unplug are compelling, too: Your tech may be harming everything from your posture to your relationships.

The National Day of Unplugging is a 24-hour period on the first Friday of March—in 2015 it begins at sundown on Friday, March 6 and runs through sundown on Saturday, March 7—to power off. That’s right, this weekend is your chance to completely tune out technology.

In case you forget what the days before Netflix and Facebook were like, here are seven fun ways to stay occupied—the old fashioned way:

1. Revel in the quiet time.

A little uninterrupted silence can truly be golden. Whether you spend it lost in thought with a cup of coffee, journaling, or creating a to-do list, solitude can boost concentration and productivity, improve relationships, and even increase life satisfaction.

2. Go outside.

Whether you walk, hike, or bike, there are clear benefits to getting out of the house. Spending time outside may improve focus, lower stress levels, provide relief from symptoms of seasonal depression, and give your body a chance to soak up some vitamin D (just don’t forget the SPF—even in the winter).

3. Read a real book.

You’re going to have to swap your e-reader for a paper-bound book to fully unplug. The good news? There’s a handful of scientifically-backed reasons to crack open the printed variety. Plus, it’s a great excuse to visit the library. Need a recommendation? Here, 50 books renowned authors say changed their lives.

4. Play games.

No, not Candy Crush. Classic board games, like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders, are not only fun but they can also teach math, communication, social skills, and other abilities.

5. Build a fort.

Grab all the blankets and pillows you can find and create a fort with your kids. Pretend it’s a gigantic fortress and role-play the characters that live inside. Whether you play the part of king or monster, there’s evidence that imaginative play aids learning, abstract thinking, and social and academic development. See how to build a fort here.

6. Bake.

You probably don’t need a persuasive reason to fire up the oven for a warm batch of chocolate chip cookies, but there is some evidence that baking could make you happier.

7. Craft.

DIY projects can give your home a refresh and maybe even provide therapeutic benefits: Leisurely activities, like crafting, can ease chronic pain, anxiety, and depression, increase happiness, and possibly delay aging.