Point. Click. Scroll. Swipe. Repeat.
Have you ever stopped to wonder how much time you spend in front of a screen each day? According to a 2018 Neilsen report, the average American spends just over 11 hours every day consuming media (4.5 hours watching television at least another 4 on the internet). There has been a growing body of research detailing the harmful effects of this behavior, including impairments to the nervous and cardiovascular systems. Excess screen time has been linked to symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, depression, irritability and/or body pain.
Think you might benefit from a little digital detox? Here are some ideas to get you started:
• Stop sleeping with the enemy.Remove your devices from your bedroom so they’re not the last thing you see before bed and the first thing you check in the morning. The blue light from devices has been linked to a reduction in melatonin, an important hormone that regulates your sleep wake cycles, so it’s best to avoid screens an hour or two before bed. This will support your nervous system and can dramatically improve your sleep (and love life).
• Get help. Take advantage of applications that track your usage and help you set limits. It can be difficult to adhere to self-imposed restrictions so let your devices do it for you. Certain apps can help you limit the amount of time you spend using the internet or scrolling social media sites. At work, try setting a timer after every 30 minutes to an hour at the computer. When the timer goes off, spend at least 2 minutes moving your body and relaxing your eyes.
• Ditch the notifications. Turn off all notifications that do not need an immediate response.
• Take a break from social media. Is your brain wired to check your social sites multiple times each day? Try a little experiment and go a day, week or month(!) without checking. You may notice you begin to feel more focused, connected and present.
• Implement a Screen Free Day. I know a few folks that spend one day each week without any screens. They report that this commitment has done them a world of good and has significantly improved their overall health and wellbeing. If a full day without devices feels like going off the deep end, gift yourself a smaller break by waiting until after breakfast each day to check your phone or power up the computer.
• Declare your intention. Become mindful about the ways in which you use your devices. Do you scroll through social media to numb an uncomfortable feeling or because it makes you feel connected and alive? Your time is sacred and should be spent in ways that support your values and priorities. Get clear on WHY you use technology so you can best determine HOW to use it.