Are you struggling with limiting your screen time? If so, well, join the club! The truth is, most of us are finding it quite challenging to balance our time on and off the screen without having a nervous breakdown. 😨
We spend our days fighting the urge to tend to those notifications that pop up every 2 minutes, or we refresh our Pinterest feeds in search of that quick hit of dopamine we crave.
But at some point, too much screen time and not enough green time can take a toll on our mental health. So we can surely benefit from unplugging and going outside more often, even for just five minutes.
But how can we possibly do that?
Read Short Version
- Take a little time out of your day to practice being present. Take a walk or sit in your backyard, but leave your phone behind! Spoil your senses by taking in the beauty, smells, sounds, and sensations that surround you.
- Get some fresh air and move around for a bit! The hardest part may be getting yourself to get up and out of the house, but you’ll feel refreshed after giving yourself some space from your environment.
- Cut out the distractions. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the constant flow of notifications and to-do’s. That’s why it’s helpful to turn off your phone while you’re in productivity mode and when you want to fully relax!
- Limit your time on social media. It can be addicting! However, spending too much time on social platforms can also leave you feeling empty and ironically, disconnected from the people who matter (especially yourself!). Find a time in your day to dedicate to updating your accounts, but don’t let it take over your day.
- Get outside if you can. Even if it’s just a walk to the end of the driveway, it still counts! If this is just not happening today, moving your work to another room can help break up the day and give your mind a healthy reset.
Carving out a little time for myself to be outside and away from the screen has helped my mental health and well-being immensely in the past year! I hope these tips can also help you reconnect with yourself and the things that bring you joy and space to breathe.
Creating healthy separation from our devices requires creating manageable habits and building discipline. However, doing this seems nearly impossible when we live at our laptops, have the habit of switching on the TV after a long day, and struggle to keep up with our DMs.
Technology has become integral to our daily lives. We depend on it to keep us entertained and connected to our loved ones. It has even given us the luxury of having our dinner delivered to us when we are too tired to go grocery shopping.
Having access to technology is indeed a blessing and a curse.
For me, it can be challenging to drown out all the digital stimulation in a place as buzzing as Tokyo. The in-your-face advertisements lighting up every public space and all the lights from the sea of smartphones can get old quickly.
Moreover, our growing dependency on technology makes it harder to detach from what’s going on in cyberspace and be more present in the world around us.
Being Present is a Gift
As a kid, I could get recharged just by going outside; As a matter of fact, I still do!
As an elementary school student, I’d hop off at the bus stop near the first street we lived on, a couple of blocks from my house. It was a long, uphill trek for little legs like mine. But that didn’t matter to me because I was that kid who was amused by the natural world, stopping to admire the never-ending trails of ants hard at work.
Back then, being present came so naturally to me. I remember always stopping to smell the roses and enjoying the magical moment of being immersed in nature.
Fresh Air and Exercise
Another privilege I had growing up was that my parents made sure we had lots of time outdoors. Lucky for me, I grew up before smartphones and tablets! And, on top of that, my very active parents valued hands-on playtime and outdoor activities.
My sister Lesley and I went on frequent stroller rides as children. My mom and her girlfriends chatted and pushed us up the steep winding road on the mountain near our home.
When my sister was an infant, she’d ride in the baby backpack strapped to my dad’s back while he pushed me in the stroller and jogged around town. So not only did we kids get a lot of sunshine and outdoor time, but our parents also reaped the benefits of being buff!
A Life with Fewer Distractions
We didn’t own any video games until my later years in high school, and my parents didn’t invest in cable TV until after I left the nest. I was pretty resentful about that at the time, but now I’m grateful to have spent quality time with my sister and friends playing with toys and imaginary friends.
I was an indignant teenager when restricted from the things my friends all seemed to have. But, looking back on it now, I understand that my parents made tough decisions in my best interest.
Thanks, Mom and Dad!
The Era of Smartphones and Social Media
As you mature, your priorities tend to shift. That sometimes means losing touch with the things that bring you joy. For me, that was my connection to nature and its immense impact on my mental and physical well-being.
Owning a smartphone became my way of staying in the loop and gaining instant gratification through notifications and likes. But, in retrospect, I realize what a distracting environment this behavior created for my undiagnosed ADHD brain!
Green Time Over Screen Time
I’m a big believer in the concept of “green time over screen time.” In fact, my husband and I have been implementing more outdoor time into our daily regimens lately with great success. We have found that it’s an effective way to connect with ourselves, each other, and all the beauty that surrounds us — the perfect opportunity to reflect on how lucky we are to be here at all.
Riding your bike, playing a sport, or sitting outside with a good book are other ways to take a break from your phone or computer and take time to yourself.
A Change of Setting
Even if you don’t consider yourself the most in tune with nature, you can still benefit from unplugging and getting some sunshine.
I’ve found that my mood improves, and I feel more balanced when freed from the digital world and exposed to the natural one.
Appreciating nature also reminds me to connect with myself and slow down, unlike the symphony of persistent beeps, bleeps, and bloops fighting for my attention.
You don’t necessarily have to commit to an afternoon of hiking. You can go to a nearby park or take a quick walk to the supermarket. If leaving home isn’t in the cards today, you can at least move to another room for a change of scenery at some point in the day.
Take a moment to take in the view from your window, spend a few solid minutes stretching, or brew a killer cup of tea. As for many things in life, I think the key is to find what works for you.
Well, it’s time for me to break free from my computer screen and do something to refresh my mind and body.
Let me know how being in the great outdoors has benefitted you! Of course, you don’t even have to be an outdoor person, but I bet you’ll feel better by cutting a bit of your screen time and taking a quick breath of fresh air.
Stay well and see you in next week’s post!
I’m so glad you remember your exposure to nature as a young one. Some of the best times for me too!
I’m so lucky to have many wonderful memories spent outdoors!