Found your eyes going dry after a long day at work?
Found yourself reaching out to check your phone for an important email even when you are dead tired?
Well, we all keep hearing of the proverbial “Digital Detox”. In an age where we use gadgets day in and day out and most of the times, end up doing so involuntarily because of the nature of our work, “How can I ever do a tech detox?” We ask.
There’s no dearth to research on how screen time affects a child, but the adult? There is research yes, not much maybe. But at the end of the day, we need to be aware that we control how we let the online world shape our lives.
How does it harm us in the first place? How can we as adults balance our digital usage better?
Where does the problem lie?
According to the March 2015 report by Nielsen Company, adults age 18 years and older spend anywhere around 11 hours on an electronic gadget. Take into account the 6+ hours we spend staring at a computer screen at work and around 2 -3 hours of leisure surfing and social networking.
How too much screen time affects You
Your physical health suffers:
- Eye strain – Our eyes are our gateway to this visual world. Staring at the screen for too long leads to overtaxed and weary red eyes. When we focus on what we are doing, we blink less which causes dry eyes.
- Headaches and Backaches – The angle at which you look down at the phone, the weight on your head at this time lead to your neck muscles supporting around 60 lbs while you check your messages. This can add up to muscle strain. If you sit in one position for too long, it leads to stiffness and soreness and aches in the head, back, shoulder and neck regions.
- Weight gain and metabolism – There is a reason why our ancients and even the earlier generations remain this healthy. They spent most of their time outdoors. They were active physically. Hundreds of studies have told us how sitting in front of the TV continuously is correlated to weight gain. Lot of screen time means a cut down on physical activity.
Your mental health takes a hit:
The backlit light of TV and phone screens and other electronic gadgets are known to affect the body’s sleep-wake cycle. It interferes with the body’s natural ability to wind down and retire to bed. If you sleep late, you end up feeling drowsy in the day-time which hits your productivity and could cause irritation.
Also, there’s too much of unnecessary negative news floating around on the net. While you need to be aware of what is happening around you, it does lead to stress when the content you consume is too disturbing.
There’s a risk of addiction:
The digital world has tons and tons of content in all forms for us to access and enjoy. But everything has a boon and bane. That is how the world functions. Why do you think people are increasingly glued to their phones? For one, there is a fear of missing out on what is trending. Secondly, the mind just can’t be alone with itself unless trained to. It always needs some support, an anchor. With the device being in our hands all the time, the mind simply urges us to turn to it.
The impulse to unlock your phone or open a new tab the moment you feel like there is nothing to do is the biggest indicator that you are getting addicted to your device.
Relationships could suffer:
How would your partner feel if you keep checking for updates instead of dedicating time to them on a date? Angry? Taken for granted? How would you feel if you do that? Guilty? Frustrated? Nothing can substitute care, time and attention in a relationship. How would your family feel if you keep checking the phone at dinner time?
If you are really busy your family would understand. But if you turn to your phone because you want to avoid a conversation, or if you and your partner are engaged on your phone when you should be talking to each other, it is time to pay attention to what’s happening.
How can you take charge?
1. Take breaks, take it seriously
We do know that we are supposed to be taking small breaks after every 30 minutes of sitting at the desk, right? But we mostly never do it. Either we forget, or get carried away with the work-load.
Our health is equally if not more important. Taking a 5-10 minute walk after an intense session of work on the computer can be not just liberating for your eyes, neck and back but also for your soul. Do it. It makes a huge difference.
2. Be aware of your physical posture
The fewer hours you spend sitting, the better it is. Stand up and walk around when on call. Use your natural, upright posture while sitting or standing. It reduces fatigue and aches.
Pay attention to your posture during breaks or whenever you feel like you are slouching, it reduces the strain of screen-time. Do posture checks until standing and sitting straight becomes a habit.
3. Maintain good sleep hygiene
Working through the day, our bodies and minds need adequate rest and sleep to remain fresh and going. Keep the phone away from the bedroom. Don’t sit watching movies till late in the night or completing an important project, it harms your sleep-wake cycle. Half of your problems occur because the internal body and mind clock is thrown off balance due to hectic hours. As much as possible, please maintain good sleep hours, you will surely find your productivity increasing.
4. Restrict at-home usage
When you limit your screen usage at home or otherwise, it allows you to think more clearly and creatively. The mind remains sharp and focused, away from the distractions of multiple tabs and notifications. The frontal lobe works better with less screen-time which increases problem-solving abilities, sustains self-discipline and builds up our grit.
5. Digital Detox is for real
Yes, it is for real. Imagine thousands of people scrolling through their screens aimlessly just for the lack of something else to do! Even if we use digital media for constructive purposes, we still need a break from it. A great Master once said, “Too much of anything is bad.”
Balance it out. Set aside small amounts of time to start with for other activities, to take time off from the screen. Small steps work best.
6. Be aware of your media usage
As adults we ought to be on the guard of our own selves. If you feel like you are getting addicted to a site like Instagram, set timers. Decide you are going to use it only for that period of time. Use technology to beat technology. Only you can change anything for yourself, no one else can.
7. Make time for your hobbies
Hobbies feed our soul and keep us creatively engaged. Your hobby could be reading, writing, dancing, gardening or anything else! Even 15-20 minutes each day dedicated to nurturing them can make a whole lot of difference. You won’t feel like going back all the time to your phone then.
8. Explore, go outdoors
Humans are explorers by nature! We aren’t meant to be locked into our “cell” phones. Outdoors is always fresh, it offers you experiences and connects you back to your core. You needn’t go to cities and countries if your schedule doesn’t allow you. Just take an uninhibited walk on the streets, de-clutter your mind of all the stress and come back. Go to a park, go cycling. The options are many!
Explore these tips to see what works the best for you. We hope you use these in various combinations to build your own true manual for optimal screen usage!
Love, Team Trijog. 🙂