The online world and our new virtual “reality” is growing increasingly ominous. Not only does being online impact our mental health, it can also have a severe impact on our physical well-being. Many symptoms that seem to come out of nowhere, such as eye strain, migraines, and even carpal tunnel, can now be linked to being on our devices most of the time.
Like most people, I have a love-hate relationship with technology, apps, social media, and the internet. Having grown up into the internet, my life has been shaped by both a pre-internet era, and a post-internet era. I know that I wouldn’t be able to do much without the access that I have now, and I appreciate the information I am able to consume online. But, this comes at a toll. When, earlier this year, I started to really feel the price that my body pays because of the constant use of computers, phones, etc, I decided to look into digital self-care.
Because of this, it is more important now than it ever was to set some digital boundaries and practice digital “detoxing.” We thought long and hard about what a digital self-care routine looks like, and came up with some tips and tricks to keep this beast at bay.
Be mindful of your own time
Being mindful of your own time means that you respect it. That is, knowing your limits and setting your boundaries. If being online for more than a couple of hours a day is visibly affecting your mental health and physical well-being, then you may want to limit your exposure. Determine how much time you spend on your phone or computer each day. Knowing that number really helps you see how much it’s affecting you. And then, you can set a “screen-time limit” on your phone. This has been a very useful tool for me.
Turn off your push notifications
This sounds like a simple trick but it really does wonders. When you turn off your push notifications, you are less tempted to check your phone. You may even surprise yourself and forget about it altogether. This also helps in avoiding constant distractions. As the old saying goes: out of sight out of mind.
Start your day tech-free
This one is easier said than done. How many of us reach for our phones as soon as we open our eyes? My guess is all of us. But, if we condition ourselves to not do it first thing in the morning, say, instead, we reach for a cup of water or get in the shower immediately, that will set a great tone for the day.
Intentionally take breaks
Set alarms whenever you get on your phone to remind you to get off your phone. Taking breaks away from the screen is very important, and can actually improve your time online by making it more mindful. You can try the pomodoro technique to start.
Be mindful of the information you consume
As we all know, misinformation is abound these days. This is why spending too much time online can become dangerous if we’re not mindful of what we’re consuming. Do your research and don’t fall for the trap of fake news that is more often than not negative and can seriously impact your mental health.