For the longest time, I would come home from work and immediately pop on the TV. It was mindless—after a day of meetings, intensive heads-down work, and never-ending email chains, the only thing I thought I wanted to do was watch five episodes of some sitcom I’d seen hundreds of times before.
But then last year, I realized I was always ending the day feeling exhausted, or worse with a headache. In addition, I wasn’t sleeping well. So, I tried an experiment: Instead of turning on the TV in my free time, I’d pick up a book.
The results were surprising. I have more energy both after work and the next day, and I read 23 books in 2017 (compared to around 10 in 2016). And, most importantly, I discovered a way to relax that didn’t make me feel like a lazy couch bum.
So when I came across a recent article in Quartz explaining how screen time makes us unhappy, I had one of those eureka moments.
OK, so it’s not surprising that watching TV or looking at your phone for too long isn’t good for you. But what’s so intriguing is that extensive research found that doing any other activity that doesn’t involve a screen makes you happier than screen time would.
To quote one study cited in the article:
We found that teens who spent more time seeing their friends in person, exercising, playing sports, attending religious services, reading, or even doing homework were happier. However, teens who spent more time on the internet, playing computer games, on social media, texting, using video chat, or watching TV were less happy.
So, that got me thinking—if avoiding screens will make you happier, what else can you do to unwind after a day of work?
If you’re out of ideas, I’ve compiled 15 for you:
It worked for me! Here are several suggestions for awesome fiction and career books to get you started.
2. Listen to a Podcast
Sure, it requires technology, but after you click play, all you have to do is sit back, close your eyes, and listen.