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How to put down your phone, ignore emails, and actually enjoy the cottage

On phone

This article was originally published in the Spring 2017 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

The days of no Internet at the lake are pretty much over. Yay. Or not—if it means that you just…can’t…stop…the email. “Now, work can follow you everywhere you go,” says David Posen, a medical doctor, stress specialist, and the author of Is Work Killing You? “But work-life balance is a necessity. And if you go up to the cottage and sit captive to a screen, it can sabotage the whole experience.” The problem? Decompressing on the weekend can be very tough. “But it’s worth practising,” says Posen.

Can’t go cold turkey? Disconnect in increments. If you’re used to checking Facebook or Instagram every hour, do it every couple of hours.

Compromise. Let yourself work for only two hours a day at a set time. (Then do anything else for the other 22 hours.)

Hosts, set house rules. “If friends are coming, say beforehand, ‘Let’s make a deal and say that we’re not going to be on our phones when we’re together,’ ” suggests Posen. You don’t want to get all controlling and iron fist-y, “but you do want to make your preferences known.”

Challenge your thoughts. “Thoughts like ‘I should be working’ or ‘I have to check my email’ are beliefs. They aren’t truths,” says Posen. “Don’t automatically give in to them.”

Remove temptations. Leave your phone in your bag, on the dresser, or in the car—or at least turn off your ringer and email alerts. Now you’re in charge.

Do stuff. That you enjoy. Blueberry picking, Scrabble tourney, boat ride. You’ll be away from your tech, and, more importantly, “diversions and distractions are helpful ways of dealing with any stress,” says Posen.

If you truly have too much work to do, just stay home and work. Next weekend, to the lake! “For me, to drive up to the cottage and then replicate city life doesn’t make very much sense,” says Posen. “You want to make the time special.”

Looking for more cottage advice? Check out our Spring 2017 issue—on newsstands now!