7:30 am: Wake up and check email, Twitter, and Instagram
8:00 am: Log in to work email
9:00 am: Zoom meeting
10:00 am: Work online
Noon: Break for lunch and check social media
5:00 pm: Zoom happy hour
6:00 pm: Unwind, watch TV, and scroll through TikTok
On average, Americans check their smartphones 96 times a day–roughly once every 10 minutes. For most of us, this is an all-too-familiar schedule. Despite our phones and computers transforming into modern-day Pavlovian bells, 50% of Americans crave a more balanced relationship with their screens. Here are three tips for creating space from your screens and finding more harmony between your digital world and your physical one.
- Cultivate a morning routine sans email
Try creating a morning routine for yourself free from technology–even for 5 minutes–and instead allow your mind and body to center and prepare for the day ahead. A simple mindfulness practice that can retrain your brain is below:
Start to bring attention to the little things you miss by being distracted by your screens throughout the day. When you inevitably reach for your phone first thing after waking up, notice the urge and bring your awareness back to your body. Whether it’s focusing on your feet touching the ground after planting them down for the first time or simply noticing your breath for a few moments, these practices can drastically improve how you move through the day.
Try it out and notice the difference in your overall mood each day.
- Have Designated Tech-Free Days
This one sounds daunting, I know. For most of us, ditching our smartphones, computers, and TVs for 24 hours is unfathomable. But what if you designated yourself one day per month to completely disconnect. What would you do? I’d make myself a hot cup of tea and take a long, intentional walk with a friend and my puppy, paint some empty canvases, and maybe even read those books collecting dust on my shelf.
The point is that allowing yourself the time for a digital detox has been linked to calmer moods and generally feeling more content. When you take a break from your smartphone, it can significantly lower your stress levels. Cutting back on screen time has also improved self-esteem and confidence. Considering how much time we spend comparing our lives to others on our screens, it’s a no-brainer.
- Switch your phone to black and white
According to Forbes, when your phone is in full color, it mimics the allure of a slot machine. Turning your phone’s setting to black and white allows for more mindful and intentional tech usage, and in turn, you are less likely to spend hours flipping through enticing technicolor images and videos.
Here’s how to do it: For Androids, the process differs for each model, but it’s typically accessed via the “Accessibility” menu. In iOS, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Color Filters. Switch Color Filters on and select Grayscale.
Our screens can eat away at a significant chunk of our day without limits and intentionality. Becoming aware of your tech usage and then taking steps to keep track of your screen time can work wonders in calming your mood, enjoying the present moment, and adding more joy to your physical world.