Do you need a digital detox?
With many of us having to live our lives in front of screens, especially now with work/school from home, we can sometimes feel that the digital world is taking over.
We work with screens, we speak to friends and family over screens, and we relax with screens.
In 2016, Nielsen reported that the average American spends 10 hours a day devoted to a screen of some kind. And during the shutdown time streamed directly to the TV increased from 117.7 billion to 132 billion minutes in December alone!
Dangers of Too Much Screen Time
Staring at screens most of the day can have more impact on you than just your electric bill. Researchers are finding that spending too much time looking at screens can lead to eye problems, circadian rhythm and sleep issues, changes to our brains, and not surprisingly reduced physical activity.
The blue light from computer screens are thought to be tied to eye issues for some users. Some researchers think digital eyestrain, or computer vision syndrome, affects about 50% of computer users. Signs of digital eyestrain include dry, irritated eyes and blurred vision.
Studies have also shown that long exposure time to blue light causes a worsening of visual fatigue and nearsightedness.
Having glasses or a filter that can block most of this blue light can be helpful, but turning then off can be even better for your eye health.
Too much exposure to blue light devices can also wreak havoc with your ability to get quality sleep. The blue light from screens is similar to natural light from the sun signaling your body that it is time to be alert.
This blue light also blocks the release of the hormone melatonin to our bodies. This hormone helps to relax our bodies and prepare it for restful sleep. This may be acceptable and even useful during the day, but being exposed to blue light at night can interrupt circadian rhythms and make sleeping difficult. It is suggested that to get better sleep that digital devices be avoided for at least 3 hours before sleeping.
Easy Steps To Start A Digital Detox
It can be difficult to cut screen time down, but the benefits can be well worth it. You don't need to give everything up. Especially since many of us work, or go to school, via screens.
Incorporate Screen-Free Zones
A good place to start with a digital detox is to make a screen-free zone.
What is a screen-free zone? This will be a designated area where there are no phones, computers, or TVs. This can be your living room, the dining room table, outside on the patio, or even just a chair where you can sit away from screens.
One at a Time
If escaping to a screen-free zone is difficult you can also cut out one screen at a time. No TV or personal cell phone usage during work hours, and no computer after work is over for the day. If you' are in the habit of using your phone while watching TV, choose one, not both.
Do Not Disturb Mode
Do you have a habit of checking your phone every few minutes? Turn off the notifications your phone gives you by customizing your Do Not Disturb settings. This will mute all notifications except for the ones you allow. (This can be allowing phone calls from loved ones in case there is an emergency).
You can use these screen-free zones and Do Not Disturb times to do anything you want. You can go outside for a walk, read a book, take with your kids, garden, practice a hobby, take a nice bath, or even meditate. You may find that you enjoy NOT looking at a screen more than binge watching your favorite show.
These are small steps towards unleashing yourself from screens. We may find it very uncomfortable at first but that is ok. You can trade screen time for reading, walking, cleaning, meditations, journaling, and talking. You can also have fun with other people in your home like playing cards and board games together or even exploring the lost art of talking to each other.
We hope that these digital detox tips make it sound less overwhelming and easier to tackle.