We live in a world that demands our attention more and more every day; from distance education to remote work, children to seasoned professionals are constantly connected to the web. While the internet may be an incredible tool, it can also be detrimental to our mental health. Parents worry how so much time staring at a screen is impacting their children’s development; people who can’t stop checking social media feel more tense, self-conscious and anxiety-ridden.
What’s going on, and how do we stop it when our jobs, friendships and even entertainment require a WIFI signal? The answer lies in mindful technology consumption. Expecting to live in the modern age without needing to use a computer or smartphone is unrealistic, and it would likely bring more challenges than benefits. To learn the secret to being online multiple hours a day without selling your soul to the internet, here are a few practices to try.
Find Useful Ways to Use the Web
Commit to spending less time mindlessly scrolling and more time using the internet as a valuable resource. What could you achieve online if you swapped an hour on Pinterest for an hour of budgeting or personal finance research? You can even use the internet to talk to a credit counselor or apply for loans to get out of credit card debt. This tool allows you to get custom offers in under 60 seconds. You can also use the internet to work out; there are thousands of videos on YouTube for free that range from low-intensity cardio to guided yoga meditations and HILT workouts. You can read, learn and grow online rather than constantly project your energy outward into pointless social media posts.
Set a Timer
When you work, time your productive periods and step away from the screen when it’s time for an hourly break. You should aim for 10 minutes every hour to get up, stretch and rehydrate. Some people consider their break switching from one tab to another; this only keeps you more connected. Come up for air as often as you can; it may be hard at first to pull yourself away, but over time, you’ll realize you look forward to these unplugged moments. Put the same practice into place for children who are learning online; after any mandatory meetings and video lessons with their teachers, encourage them to study independently. Taking notes and writing by hand is better for their brains, and it leads to stronger connections and improved memory.
Sleep in Silence
No pings, dings or notifications waking you up; no screen tempting you to start scrolling whenever you can’t sleep. Insomnia has many psychological underpinnings that can make managing it difficult; one of the best tips for treating sleep difficulties is addressing your environment. Aim to go screen-free at least an hour before bed each night. This means no TV, computer, smartphone or gaming console. Instead, focus on a quiet activity that helps your mind unwind and prepare to rest. This could be something like knitting, reading a book or doing a nighttime yoga routine.
Delete Apps from Your Phone
Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, Facebook… there’s no shortage of apps within reach, constantly tempting us to pick up our phones and begin another binge of social media content. Make checking your feeds a conscious choice rather than a thoughtless habit; deleting apps from your phone and accessing platforms through the internet instead can make you more mindful about when you go online. You can also choose to delete the apps whenever you’re done using them; repeatedly downloading and redownloading is tedious, and the process may actually dissuade you from being online so often.