Tips for Taking Tech Breaks
Calculate Screen Time
Keep track of how much time you're spending with screens and see if how you feel. Make a note of the activities (e.g. gaming, social media) that are consuming the majority of your time. Then ask yourself, "Is this how I want to be spending my time?"
If you have an iPhone, check out the Moment app which keeps track of how many minutes you're on your phone and how many times you pick it up. For Android phone owners, check out the QualityTime app.
Do One Thing at a Time
Do you ever feel like you can't get through a single task without being interrupted by a message popping up on your computer or your phone going off? As much as we want to believe we're amazing multitaskers, our brains are at their best when we focus on one thing at a time.
When we multitask, what we're really doing is "task switching". Task switching is when we jump from one tab, e-mail, text to another. This can wear us out, lessen our productivity, and increase our stress levels.
The next time you need to focus on an important task, try silencing your phone and putting yourself as "away" on instant messaging platforms.
Talk to Each Other
As human beings, we are wired to crave companionship and recognition from others. That is one reason social media sites are so powerful, they connect us with one another. However no amount of online communication can substitute an in-person conversation.
Uninterrupted and in-depth conversations are what help us learn, develop empathy, bond, and even keep us healthy. Psychologist, Susan Pinker has discovered that people who have more face-to-face interactions are overall in better health and live longer. So the next time you're going to e-mail or text a friend, try asking them out for coffee instead.
Ask for Help
Often times, overusing technology can be a sign of another issue going on and is used as a way to escape problems. If you or a family member are unable to decrease screen use, you should seek help from a mental health professional. Click here for a list of resources.
One of the reasons it’s so difficult for us to put our phones away is because of how they make us feel. When we get a text message from a close friend or a notification saying someone liked our photo, the neurotransmitter dopamine is released. Dopamine is often called the "pleasure" chemical because it makes us feel good, so we start looking for that feeling again and again...every time we check our phones.
When our phones buzzes, we wonder, "who is it?" and hope for that positive message. On the flip side, a notification can also trigger anxiety, making us think that something urgent is happening. It even has the capability of triggering the "fight-or-flight" response according to a 60 Minutes report.
Either way, whether we're hoping for the best or fearing an urgent request, most of us have developed a habit of constantly checking our phones. One way to combat this is to take away some of the phone's power by decreasing the number of notifications we receive.
Keep only notifications on that are essential, from sources that need an immediate response.
Put Sleep First
Power Off Before Bed: An hour before you head to bed, shut everything down. Studies have shown that using media before bed can make it difficult for you to fall asleep and your sleep quality may be affected. This is because screens emit blue light, which ends up tricking your brain into thinking that it's daylight when it's actually time for bed. This is especially important for children and adolescents because they need more sleep than adults.
Buy an Alarm Clock: According to a 2016 study by Deloitte, one in three people check their phone in the middle of the night. Take away this temptation by removing your phone from your bedroom. If you use your phone as your alarm clock...buy one.
At the very least, put your phone on the other side of the room so you're less likely to grab for it in the middle of the night.
Create Time for Yourself
Silence, boredom, and daydreaming have all been proven to be beneficial to our mental well being.
You might surprise yourself with how many moments you can find throughout the day to take a quick break even if it's just for a few minutes.
Here are some ideas: