Being able to move our lives online has been a blessing while we’ve had to deal with a global pandemic. Friends and family are only a click away and many jobs were able to continue thanks to virtual options. But the downside is many of us have become glued to our phones and computers even more so than we already were. Headaches, backaches, and trouble sleeping are just some of the problems that arise from being hunched over looking at a screen all day. And despite being more connected, screen time can make us feel disconnected from and unengaged with the world around us.
It’s not realistic for most of us to completely cut out screen time but there are a few ways to be more mindful of your screen time and create a healthier relationship with your phone and computer.
Block the Blue Light
Blue wavelengths that come from artificial lights, including those on our screens, can disrupt our sleep cycles. Blue light can actually be helpful during the day by increasing attention, but as evening approaches, it starts to affect our circadian rhythm. Many computers and phones have a setting to block blue light and if not, blue light blocking glasses are a great alternative. It may also help with headaches that come from staring at a bright screen all day. Most importantly, try to reduce the amount of blue light you’re exposed to at least 30 minutes before bed. That will help your body wind down and will signal it’s time to sleep.
Set Time Limits and a Schedule
So often we don’t even realize how much time we’ve spent on our phone. Being aware of exactly how we are spending our screen time will make it easier to limit. Start with tracking how much time you’re on your phone or computer for at least a couple of days to get realistic numbers. Make sure to note how much of it was essential or work time and how much was nonessential or fun time (many phones will track this for you). Then decide on a small, realistic goal to reach to reduce that screen time. Maybe there is nothing to do about an hours long work meeting but maybe an hour of watching pranks on TikTok can be cut back to 45 minutes. Then make a schedule that is easy to stick to. Set boundaries with work and fun screen time but also plan for time to do nothing on your phone. Scheduling time to scroll on Instagram can actually help it feel less mindless and more intentional.
Schedule Screen Free Time
Our phones are usually glued to our hands and many people report feeling anxious when they don’t have their phone with them. Be intentional about scheduling phone free time. If five minutes is all you can handle, that’s fine, start there. Put your phone somewhere you won’t be able to hear it buzz and do something that helps you engage with the world. Go for a walk and take a moment to notice the clouds, trees, or the sounds around you. Grab a book and even if you don’t read much of it, notice how the pages feel in your hand. Turn on music and dance around or pick up a coloring book. Practice being in the here and now by using all of your senses to notice what’s going on around you. Even if you aren’t able to be away from your phone or computer for long, take as many small breaks as you can throughout the day.
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