Breaking the Habit: 11 Tips for a Healthier Relationship with Your Electronics
While it’s never been easier to track your health and fitness using technology, ironically, overusing electronics can be hugely detrimental to a healthy lifestyle. Hunching over a smartphone screen constantly leads to bad eyesight, poor posture, and can even increase anxiety.
On top of that, our phones are major distractors– recent surveys indicate Americans check their phones 96 times per day, or about once every ten minutes! But that doesn’t mean you have to throw your phone away completely to form a healthier relationship with your technology.
We’ve put together a list of simple ways to stop doom-scrolling and be more mindful of time spent online. If you’re looking for a way to unplug more often and break your screen addiction, these ideas should help.
1. Start keeping track of your screen time.
Nowadays, most phones offer an easy way for you to see how much screen time you’re logging in a day. Just seeing the numbers can be a great incentive to take control of your time again, and to stop aimlessly using your phone out of habit.
2. Schedule a little phone-free time daily.
Set aside a designated “phone-free” time, where you don’t plan to use your phone, and try to keep it out of reach during that period. Many phones also offer the option to limit your screen time, making it easy to take control of your schedule and regulate your usage.
3. Don’t be available 24/7.
This is crucial if you want to have phone-free time without spending every second stressing about what you’re missing out on. A healthy family/work/life balance means that no one should expect you to be available 24/7. Let the people you’re close to know you’re trying to unplug a little to better manage expectations. You’ll quickly find it’s okay not to respond to every message instantaneously.
4. Avoid looking everything up first.
When’s the last time you tried out a new restaurant without looking at reviews, or stopped by a museum before reading about their collection online ahead of time? Try to avoid the impulse to Google everything immediately, and you’ll rely on your phone a lot less (and maybe add a little spontaneity to your day, too!).
5. Try an app to boost productivity.
It might sound counter-intuitive to use technology to help you stop using your phone as often, but there are tons of productivity apps that can help you cut down on distractions and use your tech more mindfully—whether that’s by making a smarter to-do list or setting aside time to focus on one activity.
6. Turn off a few notifications.
Constantly seeing messages on your phone screen is tempting, and keeps us in a repetitive cycle of unconsciously scrolling through new notifications— and likely getting off task. Turning off any app notifications you don’t need can help keep you from mindlessly grabbing your phone.
7. Turn on ‘Do Not Disturb.’
Check your settings, and you should find a ‘Do Not Disturb’ option. This setting delivers notifications and calls without using sounds or alerts, making it ideal for times when you’d rather not be distracted by your phone. You can turn on ‘Do Not Disturb’ manually, or schedule it for whenever you’d like. Try setting it from 30 minutes before bedtime until about 15 minutes before your alarm goes off.
8. Don’t charge your phone near bed.
Find yourself staring at your phone screen in the middle of the night a lot when you should be sleeping? Try moving your charger. Keeping your phone across the room when you’re headed to sleep keeps you from staying up looking at memes. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, even better– it’s the perfect encouragement to get out of bed in the morning instead of hitting snooze from your nightstand.
9. Stay offline until after breakfast.
This step is a lot easier if you’re not scrolling through social media in bed before even getting up. Stop browsing before you brush your teeth to help get your day off to a productive start. Feeling extra motivated? Try setting aside a few minutes of mindfulness before you grab your phone for the day.
10. Put a rubber band on it.
Find yourself mindlessly browsing Instagram before you even realize you’ve picked up your phone? Try putting a rubber band around it. That way, there’s a physical barrier that you have to remove before you can use your phone again. This is a great way to make your tech usage more mindful!
11. Make it a game.
If you have friends who are also interested in reducing their screen-time, turn your next lunch date into a competition by stacking your phones in the center of the table as soon as you sit down. The first one to grab their phone has to pay the bill.
If no one succumbs to temptation before the meal is over, everyone pays for their own food instead. It’s a win-win; you’ll get to spend time connecting to friends, and have a shot at a free meal while you’re at it!
Start 2021 off right by committing to healthier online habits, and spend more time IRL doing what you love. Break internet addictions so you can use your technology, instead of letting it use you.