Thanks to hot summer temperatures and the urge to social distance, many Americans are sharing that their screen time has increased within the last few months.
Screen time includes time spent on your phone, television, iPad, tablet, video games, etc. While screen time is okay in moderation, too much time spent on your digital devices can have negative health effects, including:
- Increased depression or anxiety
- Feelings of restlessness
- Trouble sleeping or winding down
- Weight gain
- Loss of productivity
With a few simple strategies, you can reduce the time you spend on your devices and devote it to more meaningful activities. Here are some tips to unplug a bit more and cultivate healthier habits for mental, physical and emotional wellness.
Strategies to Reduce Screen Time
1-Track Your Time Spent on Screens
This is an important step toward improving self-awareness. Your phone may have an option in its settings to log your screen time and give you a daily report. If it doesn’t, there are many apps you can choose from that do the same thing. Beyond your phones, try to log the minutes and hours you spend watching television or going on your computer, even if it’s just to watch the news, do some research or work on a project.
2-Take Inventory of What’s Important
Technology has its drawbacks, but it also has benefits. You don’t have to cut 100% of your screen time – just make adjustments where and when it’s necessary. To do this, ask yourself what tasks and activities are important to you that require you to spend some time on a screen.
Here are some examples:
- Staying current with news updates
- Contacting friends, family, work networks, etc.
- Completing work or side projects
- Paying bills online and budgeting
Tasks and activities that don’t fall into the “important” category are where you should start in your quest to reduce screen time.
3-Set Reasonable Limits
Make a list of all the areas you want to improve upon, like spending less time on social media or binge-watching your favorite television shows after dinner. Then give each activity a goal. Instead of writing the maximum number of hours you want to spend on a screen while doing that activity, start by identifying the number of minutes/hours you want to cut back each day/week. This will make it easier to see how much time you’re getting back in your schedule!
4-Disable Phone Notifications
It can be tempting to constantly go online when you are getting alerted by notifications every hour. If you can, try disabling social media notifications and phone apps that don’t require you to tune-in round the clock. Another good (but hard) tactic is to remove your email from your phone so you are forced to check it only when on your PC.
5-Avoid Mindless Eating
Most of us can relate to snacking on a bag of chips or cookies while scrolling through our social media feeds or watching television. Try to avoid eating while you’re on a screen so you can cut back on calories while also focusing more on the activity at hand.
6-Make Screen-free Zones
Establish places in your home where you ideally want to avoid screen time. The most important room is arguably your bedroom where sleep and relaxation should be your priority. Other good places are your dining room (or kitchen, depending on where you eat) and bathroom.
Reducing screen time is hard, but it’s an important tool for cultivating mindfulness and developing healthier habits. If you follow the tips above, you might be surprised at how much happier, productive and energetic you feel!