Revisit your habits and learn how to strike that balance between your life offline and online
Modern technology has made everybody’s lives more convenient, connecting them with the people they care about and allowing them to access information with unprecedented ease. With the ongoing pandemic, most of us have settled into remote lifestyles, as work meetings and classes are, in part, still done virtually.
An advantage of this shift to hyper-connectedness is that we are granted more accessibility and flexibility: in our schedules and how we navigate work and play. It also means, however, that we have become overly dependent on technology, reducing our time for the other things that matter.
Want to know how to strike a balance again? Here are some helpful ways for you to set boundaries and unplug.
Be in the moment.
To borrow from the sutra Knowing the Better Way to Live Alone: “There is only one moment for you to be alive, and that is the present moment.” When you are in the company of family and friends, embrace the present by connecting with the people you are with in real life, in real-time. Encourage them to minimize the use of gadgets as well, so you can focus on enjoying the moment together. Do your best to avoid checking your mobile during conversations; you can respond to texts and emails at a later time anyway.
Take a social media detox.
Research shows that anxiety sometimes takes another form: this is in the seemingly harmless case of FOMO (or the fear of missing out). Smartphone users, the research shows, feel uncomfortable if they aren’t constantly connected online and up to date with what’s happening in their social circles. In order to take care of your mental health, though, take some time off from technology. Spend a day or a weekend offline doing activities that allow you to replenish your energy such as writing in your journal, reading a book, spending time with your friends, or getting some fresh air with your pets.
Monitor and limit your gadget use.
Finding out how much time you spend on your phone is useful if you want to raise your awareness of how you’re managing your screen time. Social media platforms like Instagram have built-in timers to help remind you of the number of hours you’re spending on the app. Android devices and Apple iOS can also set in-app screen time limits, ultimately helping you become more mindful of your tech usage.
Another helpful tip? Observe your entertainment consumption habits, too. It can be tempting to binge-watch your favorite Netflix series or K-drama show but learn to schedule the hours you allot for streaming. Your beloved oppa can always wait.
Practice mindfulness habits to curb negativity.
Mindfulness means cultivating self-care habits, helping you become more accountable and stay present. Filter through what you consume online; you can avoid content from accounts that might be toxic for your mental health by muting and blocking where applicable. You can also filter the irrelevant ads that appear on your social media feeds. Enjoy your breakfast phone-free, do morning meditation, or write your thoughts as you start your day before reaching for any type of device. Begin the day by taking care of yourself in real life.
Limit your notifications.
Protect your personal time by switching off excessive notifications. Manage which apps can send you push notifications and turn off applications that do not need your immediate response. As much as possible, limit checking your email, social media, and news to about three times a day. You can tell your family, friends, and colleagues that you may not respond immediately, but you will within a specific timeframe (reasonable boundaries can include a range between 15 minutes to an hour later). According to research, checking emails and texts less frequently decreases stress levels, leading to more productivity and better social interactions.
Use technology proactively with your family.
Establish schedules for using mobile phones, spending time on the computer, playing video games, and watching television at home. Playing games can help children to learn about socialization and analytical thinking. However, it is still best to teach them about the healthy balance between offline and online activities early on. Parents can guide their children on how to use technology wisely by encouraging them to watch educational media or download an app or two for learning new languages. They can also help children set boundaries early by encouraging them to read good books, play board games, or spend time with the family outdoors.
Develop a healthy sleeping pattern.
An hour before bedtime, avoid using media devices and dim the room lights slowly. Blue wavelength light from phones, tablets, and computers inhibits the production of melatonin which is needed to fall asleep. If possible, put all devices away—on a shelf, in another room, etc.—to discourage you from checking them in the middle of the night. If you must keep a phone nearby, place it across the room and away from your bedside. Try waking up to a traditional alarm instead of using your smartphone, to minimize browsing the web first thing in the morning.
Understanding how you use technology is a good start when it comes to forming healthy boundaries. It might take time to practice these new habits and to unplug! After a period of adjustment, however, you can bet that you’ll be more revitalized and more at peace just by being in the moment—tech-free.