Tips for reducing
screen time during quarantine
by Monica Yee
Our society nowadays is focused on digital communication & we have become so dependent (addicted?) to the internet that many of us forget what life was like before we had smart phones, tablets, laptops, etc.
Many of us spend our time at work using a computer and staring at a screen. And much of our free time is then also spent scrolling through social media on our phones, streaming shows & videos, reading news & articles online, etc. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but as much as we don’t like to admit it I do think that there are some downsides of having so much screen time. Looking at a screen for long periods of time is obviously very straining for our eyes, and in general can be detrimental to our mental and physical health.
With the current quarantine and lockdown rules in place, we are forced to spend much more time in our homes instead of out and about socializing with friends, going out to eat, shopping, etc. resulting in most of us spending even more time online. In times like these it is even more important to keep an eye out for our mental and physical wellbeing, and actively spending some time away from screens is a great way to keep everything in check.
I wanted to share with you some tips I’ve been using to reduce my screen time. Check them out below, and let me know if you think anything is missing!
1. Pick up a book! This may seem like the obvious choice, but it is a great way to spend quality time on your balcony or in your favorite chair without scrolling through your phone. Take this time to read all of those books that have been gathering dust on your shelves or pick up some new favorites (hint: many local bookstores are delivering for free to you so you don’t even have to leave your home!). Not into books? No problem! Instead you could read a magazine, or pick up some other offline activities such as crossword puzzles, riddles, puzzles or even coloring books to enjoy.
2. Read a newspaper! While it is important to keep yourself
informed of what is happening in the world today, we can easily find ourselves falling into a rabbit hole of headline after headline about what horrible things are happening around the world. I like to check the news daily, but I also try to limit myself to how much I intake every day. One thing that has helped me is reading a newspaper instead of getting my news online. During my weekly grocery trips or trips to the bakery I like to grab the latest newspaper and I will spend the next day or two working my way through that instead of reading my news online. This allows me to stay up to date with the most important issues without having to spend too much time online.
3. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks! I love putting on audiobooks when I am cooking, cleaning my apartment or working out. They keep me super entertained and allow me to have my hands and eyes free to focus on other things.
4. Leave your phone at home! We tend to be so used to taking our phones with us everywhere we go, even if it’s just around the corner to the bakery – why not try leaving it at home? I used to take my phone with me everywhere I went but now when I head outside for a bit, I try to leave my phone at home and find that it makes me feel a lot more relaxed and at ease and then I don’t have the temptation of looking at my phone when I could be enjoying the scenery.
5. Play a game! If you live with someone, instead of gathering on the couch to watch a movie (or scroll through your phone, which, let’s be honest is really what we are all doing) why not pick up a deck of cards or play a board game. This is one of my favorite ways to spend time with my partner and it allows us to forget everything else going on at the moment and have fun enjoying each other’s company.
6. Call someone over the phone! Are you planning on chatting with a friend or a loved one? Why not give a good old-fashioned phone call a try. Being able to video chat with someone is of course amazing, but every once in a while it is nice to just be on the phone with someone. This means you don’t constantly have to worry about the connection, the lighting, what angle your camera is facing, if you remembered to put on pants that morning, etc. You can focus solely on the conversation and I find that this can help make my conversations more enjoyable and meaningful.
7. Write a letter! Taking the time to sit down and write a letter to someone can be really therapeutic and is something I enjoy doing. And who doesn’t love receiving a nice surprise in their mailbox?
8. Establish technology free times or zones! If you are eating a meal alone, it can be very tempting to put on your favorite show to zone out to while eating – try listening to some music instead and really focus on your meal you have in front of you. This allows me to appreciate the food I have prepared even more and puts me more in tune with what I am eating. Another idea could be to establish a technology free zone in your home. Maybe try to not look at your phone while in bed, or try experimenting with a phone/tablet/laptop ban in your kitchen or living room.
9. Listen to music! Many of us always have music playing in the background, but when was the last time you really took the time to listen to music and do nothing else? I’ve been using this time to rediscover some of my favorite music – I’ll put on an album and just sing or dance along to my favorite tunes!
10. Start a DIY project! Have you always wanted to paint that Ikea bookshelf in your room? Are you ready for some new curtains for your bedroom? Are all of the cables lying around your house driving you crazy? Now is a great time to work on all those little home improvement projects that you have been pushing aside. Some of these things (like organizing that junk drawer in your kitchen) maybe don’t sound super exciting, but nothing beats the satisfaction of being able to tick something like that off of your to-do list!
11. Find pleasure in lengthy cooking projects! One of my favorite things to do if have lots of time on my hands is to throw myself into a lengthy cooking or baking project. Have you ever tried making your own pasta at home? Want to try your hand at making bread? Any yummy baked goods you’ve been eager to give a try? Now is the perfect time to set aside a few hours of your day to really immerse yourself in something fun and hands-on in the kitchen.
12. Helpful apps! If all else fails, there are some handy apps which can track your screen time and which can even put a limit on how long you can use a certain app. Lots of phones have such screen usage systems already built into their systems (screen usage on iOS, and digital wellbeing on Android) and if you check out the app store there are plenty of other options as well.
Anything else come to mind? Let me know what works best for you, or if you have any other suggestions for reducing screen time while we are all staying at home.