Find some screen-free time for your self-care
The irony isn't lost on us that we're musing about the importance of screen-free time in a self-care routine on a blog post meant for social media. Today it's harder than ever to separate from our screens as they've become the last tether connecting us to our communities.
It used to be that screens were a new means to an end in keeping us connected, now they're very much part of the glue holding our society together. Regardless of the benefits gleaned from screens, there is a dark side to the light shining in our eyes.
There are the physical health repercussions of increased weight due to a sedentary lifestyle, eye issues arising when a screen is inches away all day, and screens increase your likelihood of poor posture leading to neck and back pain.
It's also now pretty widely recognized that our devices' blue light emissions can interfere with our sleep cycle, leading to poor sleep patterns. And too much time spent on screens, especially time devoted to social media and doom-scrolling, seems to correlate with the onset and severity of depression and anxiety.
So, how much screen time is too much screen time?
According to the Mayo Clinic Health System,
Recommendations for an acceptable amount of screen time include:
• No screen time whatsoever for children under 2
• One hour a day for children 2 to 12
• Two hours a day for teens and adults
Yet in the same paragraph, they acknowledge, "The average time spent on screens now is seven to 10 hours."
It's highly improbable any of us will be cutting 6-8 hours of screentime from our daily routine any time soon, especially now that it's a critical tool for working and socializing.
However, it's not impossible to begin taking small steps in the right direction today.
For us, the first step was addressing phone usage.
Our household enjoys both Apple & Andriod, and both have their tools to help. There are Downtime settings for the iPhone in our home, and for Andriod, there are Digital Wellbeing settings. Thankfully, both serve the same purpose.
These settings allow us to monitor and control our usage. We can track how much time is spent using each app and set usage limits to lockout an app if we've spent too much time on it. It makes a great starting point and enables us to break the habit of mindless scrolling done much too frequently.
Another tool we've found useful is to get back into reading. Both of us used to be avid readers when we were younger but fell out of love with the habit through mandatory reading assignments in school. Now, we're doing our best to regularly put down our phones/remotes and pick up a book, especially in the evenings, as an opportunity to break free from the blue light and improve our minds while simultaneously improving our sleep habits. Finally, one more way we hope to break free of our screens is by getting out and enjoying more recreational activities. The Mayo Clinic Health System put together a game for 2020 participants to Slim Your Screen Time, but with their gameboard, we can play along at any time.
Of course, many of these activities are or were mainstays in our summer routines pre-pandemic. Still, as we look ahead to 2021, it provides an excellent opportunity to challenge ourselves and our friends to live in the moment and mark off as many of these as possible.
Yes, screens help capture & share the memories, but we can't forget to put them away and enjoy life outside of the frame.
And if you must be at a screen, don't forget the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away to help give your eyes time to readjust and prevent potentially lasting damage.
Are there any screen-free habits that work for you?
We'd love to hear how you've implemented them.