oftenNichi explores reducing screen time in a blog post inspired by the book “The Power of Off” by Nancy Collier
Why should we reduce screen time?
The average person now looks at their phone around 150 times a day- that’s once every 6 minutes!!
If we took a drug every 6 minutes we would be classed as having a very serious addiction and advised to seek help. We compulsively gaze at our screens, often unaware that we are doing so and it can even be the first thing we look at in the morning.
Online we are more connected than ever before, with apps telling us when to sleep, how fast we run, what to eat, how to meditate – the list is endless. Socially suicide rates are the highest they have ever been and mental health, anxiety, stress related illness is on the rise.
Give yourself back some time
We often complain that we don’t have enough time – we are too busy but imagine the time you would have if you put down your phone. Being constantly online is working against our own well being. Against our own peace of mind.
We often feel that we need to be available all the time and worry that we will miss out if we are not. Through this we mistakenly replace this sense of being “on” all the time as our purpose.
What are we craving?
It becomes an adornment of our ego, of our self-image and at a deep level our devices allow us to avoid bumping into ourselves. Our screens are the ultimate device for existence- “look at me, look at what I’m doing, I’m winning.” It helps us avoid the gaps, the stillness, the silence, the discomfort of just being.
We have spent a lifetime as humans avoiding the present moment. It takes a phenomenal amount of mindfulness to put these gadgets down and reduce screen time. To drop into the “now” can feel like we are dropping into a void. Suddenly we come face to face with being and so we must learn a different way of experiencing self.
Can we be more present?
What we all really crave is to be at the receiving end of another’s attention and to be fully present with each other. “Relationship” is at the centre of our well being. If you want to have a deep relationship with yourself and with others you must make a sacrifice and you can’t be available all the time to everyone else.
We are losing the art of contemplation, of thinking and of being present. Our gadgets pull us away from the self – from our purpose and our meaning.
Are You Addicted to screen time?
How does it feel to constantly be on? Do you crave stillness and quiet? Do you feel distracted? Is it hard to concentrate on a task? Do you panic if you don’t have your phone with you? Do you find it hard to relax? If you are answering yes to any of these questions, consider making some changes.
Making Changes and reduce your screen time
• Every time you go to use your phone- pause, W.A.I.T (Why Am I Teching?) Ask yourself – What would I have to feel if I don’t go on my phone? What am I avoiding feeling? Stop the impulse.
• Go for a walk or exercise outside every day without your phone. Make this a habit.
• Make the first half an hour and last half an hour of everyday phone free and check in with yourself. Scan the body. Practice slow and deep breathing.
• Set up a tech free zone in your house – the bedroom and dining room are great places to start. Making the bedroom a tech free is a great practice for better sleeping patterns.
• Work towards taking a full day off from your phone each week and contemplate who am I without it?
• Leave your phone in the office during your lunch hour and go for lunch with a colleague instead and have a conversation.
• Start a new course, hobby or exercise class in the time you have saved – perhaps Yoga? – or go and see a friend. You will be surprised at how much more time you have now you are not on a screen.
• Encourage family time where you all put your phones away – especially on holidays or days out.
• Start a daily meditation practice. The body is the portal to the present moment so spend time every day tuning in.
• Spend a few minutes a day reading. The mind will get better at focusing. Its not designed to multi-task. Reading helps reset the brain and calms the nervous system.
Set Boundaries and down time
When you use technology use it mindfully not automatically. Notice how you feel when you have had a tech filled day compared to when you haven’t. Don’t let it be habitual and without meaning.
We crave love, connection and time with each other and need to return to our essential self. All the tech in the world can’t replace human contact. We must reduce screen time and step into the void to truly appreciate and understand who we really are.