Last week we looked at #DigitalWellbeing for the BODY. We learned how making small but significant changes can have a positive impact on our physical wellbeing in this fast-paced digital world. This week we focus on the mind, or rather, the effect of technology on our focus, and the benefits of reducing screen-time wherever we can.
Let’s be honest: total disconnection is not a realistic option these days. Few of us would want to ditch our beloved devices and head for the wilderness…
But remember: Technology is not the problem. It’s how we use it that ends up problematic.
Digital addiction and device withdrawal symptoms do exist, and help is available for “nomophobics” (people afflicted with no-mobile phobia). Most of us, thankfully, don’t fall into that category.
Nonetheless, how often do you start reading an article, only to find yourself watching a YouTube video 15 minutes later on a totally unrelated topic?
Do you get antsy if you hear your phone vibrate and you can’t instantly check it? Do you get antsy if you think you hear your phone vibrate and you can’t instantly check it? (There’s a name for that, by the way: “phantom phone vibration”).
And what if you (perish the thought) Run. Out. Of. Battery?!
Our minds are in constant overdrive. With all the digital multi-tasking and pressure to respond to our devices immediately, it’s no wonder we’ve all felt overwhelmed, stressed and anxious at some point.
Bottom line is that we need to nurture our mental wellbeing to stay happier and more mindful in the modern world.
Try some of Digital Luxembourg’s top tips to help you manage screen-time effectively:
- Adjust your settings to receive notifications only from necessary apps
- Designate regular device-free time: when you’re exercising, cooking or having coffee with a friend
- Out of sight, out of mind. Putting your phone on silent in a different room can work wonders
- Identify what’s important and what’s not. Make a mental note of where you feel you are wasting time and catch yourself the next time you find yourself “there”
- Focus on one task at a time. Studies show that digital multi-tasking is rewiring our brains and actually making them slower and less efficient
- Consider buying a watch. How often do you check the time on your phone and get distracted by messages or notifications?
- Take time to read. Technology has changed the way we read. Our eyes flit and our brains simply scan for keywords and small chunks of information
- Respect your time. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t reply immediately to a Whatsapp or e-mail. In fact, leaving it just a bit longer may result in a more thoughtful response
- Try some mindfulness. This doesn’t have to be meditation; take any everyday activity, (like brushing your teeth) and feel the difference when you focus. As Buddha would say, “be where you are, otherwise you will miss your life.”
Whether it’s for one hour or one month, digitally “detoxing” and giving our monkey brains a chance to rest and reset has some amazing benefits:
1) Unlock creativity
Ever wondered why some of our best ideas come to us when we’re in the shower, out for a walk in the middle of the woods, baking a cake or wide-awake at 3am? It’s because our brains are free. They are, quite literally, thinking outside of the box and following the natural course of our thoughts.
2) Increase attention span
We, in essence, interrupt ourselves and our thought processes by flitting between tasks and information. When our monkey brain is not swinging from one social media branch to another, it can focus on the task at hand.
3) Boost memory
As we are constantly exposed to new information, we often don’t give ourselves enough time to reflect on it and commit it to memory. Giving our brains time to “recover” is proven to improve learning and reasoning skills.
4) Bring calm & focus
You might be in quiet surroundings when using your devices, but don’t underestimate the digital “noise” that excessive use of devices can create.
5) Enhance sleep
Just as our bodies need rest and time to wind down, so do our minds. Sleeping well means waking well, so by switching off an hour before you hit the sack, you’ll wake up fresh, focused and perhaps even inspired to start your day with a device-free breakfast.
7) Avoid accidents
Yes! Talking on the phone while driving, or texting while walking in streets full of people (and lampposts) can cause serious accidents. The reason is simple: our alertness is drastically lower.
8) Inspire gratitude
Being disconnected from endless streams of info lets us pause…slow down…look around…notice the small things…feel grounded…smell the coffee. And feel thankful.