A Healthy Relationship With Technology:
Technology can be great, but it can also consume you. With so many different devices and apps to keep track of, it’s easy to get lost in the noise of your device world and lose sight of what’s happening around you in the real world.
Here are seven ways to maintain a healthy relationship with technology, so you can keep enjoying the benefits of having a smartphone while avoiding the pitfalls that come with its overuse and misuse.
1) Look up from your phone every 10 minutes
A recent study found that people who used their smartphones just before bed experienced disruptions in their sleep.
Participants reported feeling wired after they checked their phones, while others had trouble sleeping through noise that would otherwise be ignored.
Aim to put your phone down at least one hour before bedtime, or pay attention to how much time you spend looking at it every day.
Think about what you can do to cut back on screen time during downtime—try giving yourself a tech curfew each night by keeping your phone away from your bed until morning.
Some health experts recommend turning off all electronic devices for about an hour before bed so you can reconnect with your thoughts and relax without distractions.
2) Take a walk without electronics
Feeling disconnected? Walk somewhere without your phone, tablet or MP3 player and enjoy what’s around you. The world is brimming with activity—chances are you’ll find something interesting to watch or someone worth talking to.
But if it gets too quiet, pop in a pair of earbuds and listen to some music on your phone. If that seems like a cop-out, remember:
There’s no law saying you can’t do both! You might also be surprised by how much time you save not being attached to your electronics all day long.
In fact, people who routinely use technology tend to report feeling more stressed than those who don’t. So go ahead—take a break from technology today and see how good it feels!
You might also consider walking outside instead of just inside your home; doing so may even increase cognitive performance for up to five hours after exercise (not counting time needed for recovery).
Walking isn’t just good for our bodies; research suggests it’s good for our brains as well. Researchers at Michigan State University found that when we walk outdoors, we engage our brains more deeply than when we walk indoors on a treadmill–and they think walking outside has many benefits beyond simple physical activity alone.
3) Say no to screen time before going to bed
Lights from our computers, phones and televisions all wreak havoc on our sleep cycles. The blue light from screens inhibits production of melatonin, a hormone that helps us get sleepy.
Using your computer or phone just before bed reduces total sleep time and affects quality of sleep. It can also cause headaches, irritability and moodiness. So for better health, learn to say no to screen time before going to bed.
Use these tips to break bad habits: Keep track of how much time you spend in front of a screen by downloading an app like Moment or Rescuetime.
Once you know how much time you’re spending on social media, games and watching TV, it’s easier to start saying no. And be sure to keep it up!
If you have trouble saying no when people are around—like at work—keep yourself accountable by posting updates about your screen-free activities online (such as no screens today!).
Make sure there’s nothing visible from where you normally sit: You might not even realize how often you check your email while watching TV at home or stop reading a book in favor of browsing Facebook during downtime at work.
4) Find an alternative to checking email at home
If you’re spending more time than necessary emailing or on social media at home, find an alternative activity.
When you have to respond to emails outside of work hours, make sure that your mobile device is out of reach, so it will be harder for you to use it without thinking first.
If your phone is within sight, it’s easier to pick up and check. Likewise, if you know an addictive website like Facebook or Twitter is calling your name when you should be doing something else, install a program on your computer called StayFocusd (for Google Chrome) or LeechBlock (for Firefox).
This allows you to specify how much time you want to spend on websites such as these each day and then tracks your progress in increments of 15 minutes.
5) Turn off push notifications on your phone
I know, I know. When an email comes in and your phone lights up, you’re tempted to quickly check it.
Don’t give in! Studies show that a constant flood of push notifications causes stress and can keep you from feeling fully present in a conversation or meeting.
Instead, set aside time at regular intervals—say 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM—to go through your inbox and respond to emails. If you can turn off those notifications during those hours, even better!
6) Shut down all social media accounts on weekdays (and weekends!)
If you know your roommate or partner needs a social media break, but are having trouble finding a time to give it to them without causing tension, do everyone a favor and shut down all social media accounts during their designated break hours.
What if they really need to respond to an urgent work question while they’re away from their computer? Have them handwrite a note, then shove it in their pocket with their phone so they can find it easily after dinner.
No one will be able to message them or update Facebook unless they physically have possession of both things at once (which probably won’t happen).
This is one of those things that might sound kind of harsh but is actually incredibly helpful for every single person who uses technology—including you!
7) Avoid using technology as a scapegoat
Your smartphone doesn’t steal your attention, but it can trick you into thinking it does. New research suggests that people perceive their environment differently when they’re distracted by technology, making them more likely to say they were distracted at a given moment.
In reality, that might just mean they were paying attention to something else going on in their lives—not to their phones.
And we don’t need to worry about smartphones and other devices taking our attention away from what’s right in front of us; smartphones take our focus off of other things only when we want them to.