Screens are an unavoidable part of our lives, especially for those who have to sit in front of a computer for work.
However, we often let them dominate our free time, too, whether we’re scrolling through social media, streaming TV shows, or getting lost in online shopping. In fact, between computers, tablets, smartphones, and TVs, Americans spend more than seven hours a day looking at screens.To help protect your overall well-being, it’s important to intentionally step away from the screens and unplug from technology whenever you can.
The risks of too much screen time
Technological advancements make our lives easier in many ways, but, just as with anything else in life, too much of a good thing can be problematic. Excessive time in front of a screen can negatively impact your health in a number of different ways. For instance, increased use of technology encourages a sedentary lifestyle, meaning you may not end up being as active as you should be. And sitting for extended periods of time takes its toll on your neck, back, and eyes, causing excess strain on your body that can lead to more health complications later in life.
If it feels like a challenge to spend even thirty minutes without your devices, then it’s worth finding ways to disengage—the benefits of doing so will outweigh your temporary sense of discomfort. Here are four ways your life may be improved when you make the conscious decision to unplug.
1. Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression
We live in an information-heavy world where we can quickly learn anything about any person, place, or thing with just a few clicks of a button. There are many positives to this, but it can also lead to an information overload, causing your brain to become overstimulated and overstressed. So while you may be tempted to click on the next news article or search for another film to watch, turning off your screens instead will give your brain the time it needs to relax and recover from a long day.
One study also found that limiting your time on social media to just thirty minutes a day can decrease your overall levels of anxiety and depression. That’s because a break from endlessly scrolling through other people’s lives allows you to better focus on the good in your own. In turn, you may become less anxious about what others are doing and instead be more grateful for what you have right now.
2. Improved sleep quality
Though all light helps regulate your sleep cycle, blue light is especially impactful for how it affects your body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy. More light equals less melatonin, and less light equals more melatonin. Many light sources emit blue light, including lamps and the sun, but smart devices can interfere with your sleep cycle the most. To help improve your quality of sleep, experts suggest that you turn off any screens two to three hours before you go to bed. This will reduce your exposure to blue light and can thus help you fall asleep more easily than you would otherwise.
3. Better relationships
Though technology does connect us in many ways, nothing can truly replace our need for face-to-face conversations. One recent study found that in romantic relationships, such interactions increased how well partners felt understood in and happy with their relationships. A reliance upon technology to communicate with a loved one can hinder this level of satisfaction and contentment, leading to relationships, romantic or otherwise, that aren’t as intimate.
Additionally, when we’re looking at a screen, we’re usually not interacting with the people around us, which can make us miss opportunities to meet new people or develop better connections with those already in our lives. Putting down the phone while you’re out with friends or spending time with your family will help you be more in the present, allowing you to have deeper conversations and distraction-free moments with those who matter most to you.
4. More free time
When you spend time away from your devices, you’ll find that you have more chances to engage in the hobbies you love, whether it’s a home improvement project, a book you’ve been wanting to read, or a new recipe to try. If you’ve always made excuses or felt like there’s not enough time in a day, check in on your tech habits to see how you can spend more time screen-free and better accomplish those tasks or activities.
To help you spend time away from technology, consider printing out and hanging the included guide with tips for unplugging more each day. In fact, why not start right now? Try putting down your device and switching to an activity that doesn’t require a screen. You might just find that you feel better physically and mentally when you do.