Easy Ways to Reduce Your Screen Time to Improve Your Well-Being
Did you know the average adult checks social media 1,200 times per day? We are constantly, obsessively picking up our phones - and the scary part is that we don’t even realize we’re doing it.
When it comes to technology addiction. It’s not just our posture and our ability to navigate a town without a GPS that is so vitally important to protect, it’s our very survival as a species.
If you’ve noticed your own short term memory seeming to fail you, it’s likely due to the overstimulation of your nervous system thanks to technology usage. It’s not just your memory. Have you noticed you’re more impulsive, cannot focus when people speak, or even have mood swings frequently that seem to come out of nowhere? The way that screens affect us is not unlike a silent thief that steals our competency one minute at a time without setting off any alarms. Yet we are left feeling incapable of making decisions, feeling depressed, living our lives in a quiet, embarrassed desperation and not knowing why.
As bleak and as melodramatic as that sounds, too much screen time a very real thing that is plaguing the world and the addiction to technology is deeply ingrained into the psyche of even the most intellectual of people alive, making this a silent war against health and happiness. While we are not advocating zero screen time (that’s not realistic), we must take action in our personal lives to understand its effects and mitigate them.
5 Easy Ways to Reduce Screen Time:
Here are some straight forward ideas for you that will get you started. Be proud of your electronic fasting and encourage others to do it too.
Keep Your Phone Away From Your Desk & Your Bed
While you’re at work or sleeping, keep your phone across the room so that if someone calls you can answer it, but you’re not tempted to constantly check it. To break the habit of picking up your phone unconsciously, create physical distance between you and your electronic leash. Some people actually experience withdrawal symptoms and panic when their phone isn’t close to them because they experience anxiety at the thought of missing something. But, indulging this anxiety only exacerbates the problem and makes the anxiety worse over time.
Have a Set Time of Day to Check Social Media
Set limits for yourself by only checking your social media networks at specific times of day. Perhaps once in the morning and once in the evening for 15 minutes works best for you. Whatever you choose, it will probably feel challenging, but don’t give in.
Notice if your mind makes excuses to check your phone more often like, ‘I need it for work,’ or ‘I want to know what my friends are doing.’ That is your brain enabling your addiction. Be self-aware and make a firm rule to limit your social media time to half an hour total per day. You’ll start to find your mind working better and your ability to learn will start to grow again.
Pay Attention to How Many Times You Touch or Pick Up Your Phone
This is something that has become an unconscious behaviour for so many of us. Checking our phone has become a security blanket for social situations like at dinner, standing in line, walking down the sidewalk, and even while driving which is a threat to life.
Checking your phone constantly creates social disconnection and isolation. The less we interact face to face with people, the less comfortable we are doing it. Yet we need to connect with people in real time and not become used to hiding behind our social media profiles.
Track All Your Screen Time Including TV, Computer, & Phone
Take an honest account of how much screen time you have in a day (children average 7 hours) and when that increased. When did you start having so much screen time? Perhaps when you got a desk job and started using social media more?
Keep a record of how much time in a day you spend looking at a screen - it will likely shock you. Getting a realistic understanding of how much time you’re spending (read: wasting) on social media will help you find ways to cut down and will make you more mindful. Allowing this behaviour will result in a more problematic addiction that can really take a toll on your mental and physical health. Do you really want that? What about your emotional wellbeing? Don’t waste precious brain space on anything that isn’t contributing to your health.
Find Alternate Habits That Increase Dopamine
Take a daily walk in nature, read a book by someone who you look up to, paint something as a gift for someone, build something with your hands, learn to play a musical instrument, start a garden, clean your house, adopt or foster an animal, do more yoga and find things that contribute to society as a whole and not just your personal fantasy life. This is vital to your happiness not only now, but five, ten, even twenty years from now when your brain will either be intact or mush. Deliberately and intentionally spending time away from screens doing things that engage your senses is the solution to the issue at hand.
The good news is, there is a way out of this and it’s about changing your habits with your intention. These subtle habits that are so normalized now in our culture can be changed if we decide to make it a priority. After all, our brain and our ability to maintain our decision-making capacity is vital to survival, making good life decisions, and even being able to provide for ourselves and take care of ourselves.
Related Article: Mental Benefits of Reading: How Books Keep You Grounded