We know it. We feel it. Screen time overload could be one of the most insidious drains on our energy and overall well-being.
It’s an occupational hazard and a breach of healthy bedtime rituals. Tech burnout has a similar effect to dehydration – we don’t experience it until we’re drained.
But what about all the wins? Our ‘pocket computers’ have opened a world of accessibility. We use phone apps to become more mindful, support fitness goals, track grocery lists, manage our spending, predict the weather and the cosmos, catch up on current events and stay connected.
Yet, it’s no wonder we’re overwhelmed.
Virtual connection has been one of the more positive outcomes of 2020, but has increased screen time really made us healthier or happier?
Here are a few tactics to tap into if you’re leaning into digital detoxing and social media minimalism.
Gauge how you feel before/after engaging on a screen.
Ask yourself, and answer honestly:
- Do I feel happy?
- At ease?
- Am I present?
If you answered no to any of the above, it’s probably time to take a reprieve from screen-facing activities.
Track your screen time.
Sometimes we need to confront things head-on. To become aware of how much time you spend scrolling, use your phone settings to observe, set limits, and self-parent.
Every few weeks or moon cycles, spend some time refreshing your app arsenal and ‘cleansing’ your social media feeds (i.e. unfollow/delete what no longer serves you).
Approach screen time more mindfully.
As you become more aware of how much time you spend screen-gazing, you’ll start to notice the level of gratification you get (or lack thereof).
Do you use your phone to pass the time waiting in line? Do you engage in social commentaries? Do you make real connections?
It’s also helpful to consider which types of notifications you value enough to interrupt your life. Do you need a ping each time someone “likes” a post? Every email you receive? What about when you’re driving?
As we evolve to connect more closely through a screen, define your boundaries. Attachment styles vary from person to person. You might do better with an intermittent “screen time” fast versus an extreme digital detox.
This also involves plugging into compassion and listening to your needs. By noticing how you respond to screen time, you might find you’re able to let go of old attachments. You’ll gain more time to communicate with yourself, slow down and channel ease.
Budget your weekly “virtual connection” times.
By intentionally chalking out time each week for virtual hangs, you can more readily hold space and look forward to connecting through a screen. Stacking Zoom calls back-to-back is often a source of energy drainage, so dispersing these throughout the week (when you can) will help reduce tech burnout.
We’re fortunate for the capacity to work or catch up with friends and family virtually, but not at the cost of our psycho-spiritual health.
Keep your phone (and devices) outside of your bedroom.
Easy, right? Not so much. This can be a surprisingly tricky practice to master. Especially if you experience device withdrawal (where’s my phone?!).
Instead of keeping your phone or tablet within reach while you sleep, try leaving it just outside your bedroom door. One step further is to turn it on airplane mode or disable the WiFi. You’ll find you might sleep a wink better. And odds are, you won’t miss much.
If your phone doubles as an alarm clock, perhaps it’s time to invest in a cool clock like this one.
It’s less about limitations and more about being present.