With the holidays fast approaching, reduce your screen time so you can recharge your mind.
Sleigh your way through the holidays unplugged
Whether you’re rolling snowballs or feasting on treats with your friends and family this holiday season, time off often means we’re still choosing work habits: checking emails and scrolling through feeds about 50 times every day.
But the real holiday magic happens when we’re doing the opposite: enjoying the soft glow of Christmas candles or watching the snow drift down from the sky. That is, when we aren’t stimulated by a small screen.
Too much screen time, not enough downtime
We spend on average 5.9 hours per day on our digital devices. Those likes and notifications present quasi notions of success, which contributes to the release of dopamine. This is the feel-good neurotransmitter responsible for giving us that sense of accomplishment after completing a goal. And these carefully crafted cues help win over our attention and keep us online for as long as possible.
However, all this screen time has severe implications for our health and spirit. Bluelight emission from these devices has been shown to disrupt sleep cycles. Plus, leaning over a screen for too long can cause neck strain, dizziness, and sore dry eyes. Furthermore, constant event notifications and chat alerts mean that you are more aware of what’s going on in your social circle, with consequential false illusions of missing out (FOMO). Virtual interactions are on the rise and becoming the norm, becoming an almost equal replacement for authentic face-to-face time.
Disconnect to reconnect
But unplugging isn’t just for the health conscious and those on holiday. To resist checking your inbox or from getting updates when you’re out, put your phone on do-not-disturb mode and place it in a pocket or bag. Research has shown that by simply having your phone within eyesight of an in-person interaction reduces the quality of a conversation.
When your phone is off the table and out of sight, you let the person in front of you know that they matter and have your full attention. Face-to-face contact without interruption also allows you to be fully present with the person in front of you, so you can read body language and facial expressions, and be attentive to tone of voice. All of these cues are what helps us increase empathy, form bonds and develop richer and more memorable experiences.
Consider as well some digital-free activities to do with a group or on your own to recharge over the holidays. For group gatherings, a good old board game gets the creative thinking juices flowing and is an easy way to avoid awkward small talk.
If you’re flying solo, spend an hour in between the lines of an adult coloring book. Coloring is a simple way to refocus the mind, awareness, and elicit the relaxation response, with zero pressure to have any art or drawing skills.
Stay tuned for more easy ways to keep smart health resolutions for 2019.