Do you find yourself constantly reaching for your phone, checking emails outside of work hours, and feeling like you never have enough time in the day to get everything done?
Do you often find yourself planning to exercise, to go for walks, to practice yoga, or to cook homemade meals - and then decide that there are simply not enough hours in the day? If so, you might be in need of a digital detox – and you’re not alone! Canadians, on average, spend 90% of their waking hours in front of screens (including phones, computers, tablets, and televisions) and less than 5% of their time outdoors! Some reports suggest that we are spending (particularly the 18-24 year old demographic) up to 2 hours per day on social media sites alone (eg. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter). So the real question is - do you really not have enough time to focus on the things you enjoy or is it simply a matter of effective time management? When you are spending time on your phone, that is time you are not spending connecting with friends and family members, enjoying exercise or leisure activities, or focusing on self-care. It's time to put down the devices and start living in the moment.
What's the Big Problem with Screen Time Anyway?
Vision problems: Constantly staring at screens can lead to strained, dry eyes; blurred vision; and headaches.
Poor posture: Looking down at a smartphone or tablet puts your neck in an awkward position, often for long stretches of time. Spine surgeons are seeing an increase in patients with neck and upper back pain - often at young ages when they wouldn’t expect to see these issues – and smartphone use is the likely culprit. There’s no great way to hold your phone in terms of ergonomics, so decreasing usage is the best way to avoid problems.
Disturbed sleep: The blue light emitted from screens has been shown to contribute to sleep issues. But what we are scrolling through on our phones before we fall asleep can also be a problem. Disturbing news stories, checking work emails, and scrolling through social media accounts that make us feel less secure about our own lives can all cause stress and keep us up at night.
Decreased self-confidence: Social media can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and family and share positive aspects of your life. But you might find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others, often leading to decreased self-esteem and self-confidence. You might also find yourself feeling jealous of what everyone else is up to. It can seem like everyone but you has ample time to exercise, travel, hang out with friends, and enjoy life to the fullest. Spend less time staring at other people’s lives and focus on using that time to do more activities you truly enjoy.
Increased stress: Having a smartphone means you are constantly available – to answer work emails, respond to texts, and be alerted when you are tagged in a social media post. If you’re interrupted during sleep, exercise, meals, and relaxation time, your phone may be significantly impacting the quality of your life and relationships.
Decreased productivity: Have you ever used your phone to Google something quickly, and all of a sudden 30 minutes has passed and you’re still scrolling through news sites or social media posts? We are easily distracted by all the features of our phones, and this can end up wasting huge amounts of our day – both at work and at leisure. Did you know that Canadians check their phones an average of 100 times per day and spend between 2-4 or more hours each day using their smartphone.
How to Digitally Detox your Life in 9 Easy Steps:
- For one week, track your phone usage using an app, such as “Moments” for iPhone, to see exactly how much time you are wasting on your phone, then use this as a benchmark set reasonable time limits - it may be easier to start with gradual reductions until you reach your goals.
- Turn off automated notifications from email, social media, and other unnecessary apps - pick a few specific times to check your phone and ignore it the rest of the day.
- Turn the sound off on your phone as often as possible for incoming texts and phone calls. Unless it is urgent, you don't need to be available to talk or respond 24/7.
- Set reasonable boundaries for off-work hours and stick to them. For example, you may decide to put away your phone between the hours of 7pm to 7am - allowing you to spend more quality time with your family and more time enjoying the outdoors.
- An estimated 1/3rd of Canadians are chronically sleep-deprived. To improve sleep health avoid using your phone after 9 PM – no scrolling before bed!
- Practice screen-free meal times. Avoid having your phone close to you or on the table during meal times or at social gatherings.
- Consider calling someone rather than texting them.
- Leverage your phone to promote healthy behaviors – enjoy listening to music while exercising, instead of watching the news sitting on your couch go for a walk and listen to news stories through podcasts, listen to an interesting audiobook on your commute to work, use YouTube for home workout videos or guided meditation sessions.
- After a 7 day period of actively reducing screen time, take note of all the time you’ve saved during your digital detox. Make a commitment to yourself to use your new found time to exercise, prepare healthy meals, engage in outdoor activities that you enjoy, start a hobby, or to do whatever else you feel like you never had time for.
Ready to put your health first? Talk to us. Email firstname.lastname@example.org