If screen time for all of us wasn’t enough before this pandemic, now with Zoom meetings and online school, some of us are glued to screens most of our waking hours. It’s keeping people inside, making us sit more, and is straining our eyes. That’s just the beginning!
While being online has it perks, it can sap our energy, make us addicted, and take away from time better spent in nature.
So how can we spend less time online and more offline? First we have to decide it is a priority to be offline. You may have to schedule it in. When it’s a lunch break, after working on a computer all morning, now is not the time to pick up your phone or check Facebook. Schedule time to be offline instead. Read a book, or better yet, take a walk after eating your meal mindfully. When you’re offline, watch the birds, watch the clouds, chat with a friend or family member, but don’t go on any devices for that time.
Here are 4 other ideas and reminders on how to make sure you get enough offline time in. Admit it, this is not easy. We all take our phones to bed. We check them when walking. We bring them to restaurants. But is all that necessary or it is a little addiction we have lurking alongside us like our shadow?
1 Be aware of the time
If you can’t put your phone down, ask someone to hold it for you. Put it in your car, a drawer, another room, or turn it off entirely. The Daily Mail has a study showing the average person checks their phone 110 times a day. Yes, over a hundred! Guilty? Me too. So I decided that every time I want to check it (when it’s not urgent), I will wait 10 minutes. It may not help all that much, but it’s about being aware of how often we are distracted by staring at our phones. Is it really that important to check that often? Probably not. See if you can check it just once every 30 minutes to start.
2 Weekends are made for offline
Schedule weekends offline. Spend entire Saturdays doing yard work, sans electronics. Or go on hikes with the family. Beaches and parks are no places for electronics, leave them in the car or in your bag, not your pocket. Getting out in nature is grounding and healthy! It’s a great reboot from the grueling weekdays we have to be online for school or work. And don’t pretend you need your phone for the camera. Take a digital one instead!
3 Make the bedroom off limits
Don’t bring your phone or laptop in the bedroom. At night, bring a book, small craft, sewing project, art, or anything else that relaxes you. This way you can spend that last hour or two before sleep, offline, unplugged, and totally relaxed. Those emails can wait until tomorrow and face it, we all know Facebook and Instagram are informally known as TIME-SUCKS.
4 Connect with your kids
How often do you sit together with no screens and just talk? What kind of example are you setting by being on your phone or laptop, while not allowing kids on theirs? Nowadays most kids have several days a week of online school, plus homework on their laptops. When school is done, have a set time they must be off all devices. And be off yours too! They may not like it at first, but if you model it as well,they can find things to do. Being offline boosts creativity, lessens stress, and relaxes our bodies. It gets us up and moving. It makes us talk to each other more often. Less screen, more connection! Break out old photo albums to look through, put on music and dance, or try some crafts. Maybe do a family puzzle or take daily or weekly family walks. The key here, obviously, is connection sans electronics. Instead of watching movies with the kids every weekend, have family game days or family cooking nights.
Most of us have some form of screen addiction. While there are many wonderful things about having the world at our fingertips there are just as many (or more) wonderful things we can do offline. The key is to schedule in time and to make it a priority. As you spend more time offline, soon you will feel more connected to yourself, grounded, more in the moment, and generally calmer. Try it. How many hours can you go today totally offline? How many can you unplug for this weekend?