Skip to main content

Overconnected? 5 ways to unplug — a little more often

How to find better balance with small changes

There’s no denying the allure of technology. Constant connection. Instant interaction. Answers with the tap of a finger.

It’s fun, amazing and useful. But if you’re desperately devoted to your smartphone, it could be too much of a good thing. And if your free time often means screen time, it may be at the expense of other parts of your life — relationships, hobbies and health.

Of course, not everyone can unplug fully — or would want to. The key is to find what works for you. If you’d like to find a better balance, here are 5 practical ways to begin:

1. Plan digital downtime

Set reasonable limits for yourself — and stick to them. For instance, you might:

  • Turn off — or silence and set aside — devices during meal times.
  • Aim to spend no more than two hours a day of your recreational time online or with screens, such as watching TV.
  • Set a timer for activities like browsing social media or playing games. Then take a break when the time’s up.

2. Switch things up to help you switch off

Do you grab your phone or tablet at frequent intervals, just to glance at your notifications or check social media? It can become automatic, even habitual. To counter the compulsion, try leaving your device out of reach or sight.

Shaking up your daily routines can help too. For example, maybe you often cuddle up with your laptop after dinner — and hours go by. Instead, check email or social media sites standing at the kitchen counter before you settle down to relax for the evening.

3. Make yourself earn it

Instead of turning to your digital device by default, make it a reward instead. Get busy — work out or fold laundry, for instance — before you enjoy your electronic time.

One caveat: If this makes you feel even more attracted to your electronics, it’s probably not the best strategy for you.  

4. Tap into screen-free fun

Shaking one habit is easier if you replace it with activities you like. Try taking up a digital-free hobby to keep your hands and mind busy. Here are just a few ideas: gardening, yoga, knitting, sketching and model-making.

5. Relish your real-life connections

Seek out friends and loved ones for quality, in-person time. So that you can give them your full attention, set aside your phone and other devices.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Want to receive our enewsletter? Subscribe to Healthy Mind Healthy Body® today.

  • If you are a new member, register on® to begin getting the newsletter.
  • If you've already registered on, log into your account and update your Subscriptions in the Account Settings section.

All UnitedHealthcare members can access a cost estimator online tool at Depending on your specific benefit plan and the ZIP code that is entered, either the myHealthcare Cost Estimator or the Treatment Cost Estimator will be available. A mobile version of myHealthcare Cost Estimator is available in the UnitedHealthcare Health4Me mobile app, and additional ZIP codes and procedures will be added soon. This tool is not intended to be a guarantee of your costs or benefits. Your actual costs and/or benefits may vary. When accessing the tool, please refer to the Terms and Conditions of Use and Why Your Costs May Vary sections for further information regarding cost estimates. Refer to your health plan coverage document for information regarding your specific benefits.

Looks like your browser is a little out-of-date.

Experience at its fullest by upgrading to a newer version of one of these browsers: