Fall is here and we are all trying to settle into this new normal as the school year starts and we continue to take precautions due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19. An overarching feature of these times is how central technologies have become to our everyday life and functioning. Most of our kids are in virtual classrooms. With limited options for entertainment we are relying more on Neflix and other streaming entertainment venues. Many people are still working remotely from home and that means many hours of virtual meetings and emails- in short: too much screen time. Studies have shown that too much screen time can negatively affect sleep, mood, and relationships in both children and adults. The effects can be weight gain, back and neck pain, eyestrain and headaches. Too much screen time can also have a negative impact on mental health, ability to focus and critical thinking. Here are some steps you can take to mitigate the negative impact of digital technology overuse:
First take inventory of your and your children’s behavior: what is the actual amount of time spent looking at a screen? How much of it is purposeful and how much is just inertia and habit or boredom?
Next, take steps to decrease unnecessary screen time. Maybe set limits on how often you check email outside of work hours.
Consider leaving your phone behind when you go on walks or sit down to meals. Instead, practice mindfulness while you are waiting in line or eating, or just daydream or read a book.
Try to not looking at your phone or turning on your computer for the first 30 minutes after waking up. Find a meaningful morning routine to start your day (walk, meditate, inspirational reading).
Wearing blue light glasses, especially in the evening, has been found to improve sleep and other symptoms related to screen time.
Set an alarm as a reminder to get up from your desk, drink some water and walk around the room every hour. Let your eyes focus on something in the distance for a few moments.
Decrease sedentary time by using a standing desk and walking while on a phone call. Any increase in physical activity is helpful. Make a plan to move your body every day!
For more on how to counteract the digital deluge effects on our brain listen to this podcast featuring brain hacking expert Jim Kwik on The People's Pharmacy. Wishing you a safe and happy Fall. I hope you can get outside and enjoy the beauty of this season.