Lounging around and binge-watching your most-beloved reality series on occasion is totally fine. But you don’t want to make a habit of spending hours and hours in front of the screen. In today’s hyperconnected world, most people spend way too much time scrolling and texting on their phones, playing games on the computer, and watching television.
While all of these activities can provide you with immediate gratification and seem harmless, they can actually impact your emotional health. The time you spend connected to your devices, sadly, comes at a cost.
Completely weaning yourself off of these devices typically isn’t an option as they are so integrated into everything we do. We work on computers, stay in contact with friends and make plans through our cell phones, and unwind after a stressful day by watching TV.
Excessive screen time has been linked with some pretty negative impacts on overall well-being. This is why we must take proactive steps towards a healthier, less dependent relationship with technology.
The negative impacts
Many studies have shown that frequent screen time (more than two hours a day, other than at work and school) has been connected to insomnia and poor sleep quality, addictive behaviors, depression, anxiety, and social anxiety.
We know this isn’t what you wanted to hear, however, it’s crucial that you understand the impacts of excessive screen use on your mental health.
When it comes to the quality of your sleep, electronics transmit blue light that signals to your brain to stay awake. This can make unwinding at night incredibly challenging. For this reason, many people invest in a pair of blue light glasses, especially if they have to work into the late hours of the evening. Poor sleep quality and insomnia can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety, and can make it more difficult for people to handle stressors in their daily life.
The concept of a ‘digital detox’
Detoxing from your electronics doesn’t mean that you have to stay off of them entirely — don’t worry! Unplugging from everything really isn’t possible these days. Here are some ways you can support your emotional well-being without having to feel like you’re living under a rock:
- Schedule screen-free time. Having your morning coffee and breakfast without scrolling through your phone can work wonders on your mental health. Starting the day with a bunch of social media scrolling can be overwhelming, whereas reading a book can be more grounding. Another easy way to take a break from electronics is by going for a walk on your lunch break instead of texting your pals or watching TikTok videos.
- Adjust your phone settings to limit time. Lots of phones have a setting that will cut you off from certain apps of your choosing once you’ve exceeded a selected amount of time.
- Designate “no phone areas”. Many folks try to stay off of their phones in the bedroom. It’s also a wise idea to avoid having a television in the room where you sleep. Bedrooms should be for sleeping only!
- Consider downgrading your technology. By having a phone or television that doesn’t have all of the coolest apps and streaming services, you’ll naturally spend less time on it. Instead, you can get outside or spend time with your family and friends — these activities will better serve your emotional well-being!
- Unplug for the day. Selecting one day per week, like Saturday or Sunday, to completely disconnect from your devices and enjoy the day. All the notifications and messages will still be there when you pick them back up.
- Find a new hobby. Whether it’s painting, drawing, yoga, cooking, golfing, or fast-walking, discovering an activity that you love (that doesn’t involve technology) can improve your mental health and keep you off of devices.
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