It’s a growing epidemic. Study after study is being released, each one linking a correlation between time spent on our smartphones with rising rates of depression and anxiety. This trend is becoming more heavily discussed amongst big-name publications, including The New York Times, NPR, The Atlantic, and TIME Magazine.
If you’re a millennial, it’s likely you remember the technology “turning points” throughout your young life. Perhaps you have a vivid memory of using Encyclopædia Britannica for the first time. Or you can distinctly recall the sound of AOL dial-up – and how no one else in your house could access the phone line while you were busy gabbing away to your friends (who lived just down the street) on messenger. How about when the first friend in your group got the original iPhone? Yeah… that was a big deal. Everyone, get in line for your turn to touch.
The modern digital age has come a long way since these technological mile markers. Our youngest generation (nicknamed the “iGen”) doesn’t know a world without smartphones. Babies have been caught “swiping” across magazine pages and TV screens, expecting smartscreen-like reactions.
Think about that for a minute. It’s terrifying.
There’s no denying how much value technology brings to our lives. We’ve streamlined communication practices that once were much more tedious (please revisit the history of the Pony Express). However – you’d be hard-pressed to find a single demographic in today’s world that feels truly at peace with their daily (weekly, monthly) screen time usage.
Our smartphones, personal laptops, and large screen TVs aren’t making a sudden exit from our lives anytime soon – and that’s OK. But because our lives are so inextricably tied to our technology, why not learn how to be more mindful with our relationships to these devices? Here are a few great ways to begin the walk down your path to mindfulness.
Download the Moment App
Smartphone users: come one come all, and download the wonderful app “Moment” to start monitoring your daily phone usage. This program helps with tracking across the board, from the number of times you pick up your phone to how much time you spend using each individual app. Moment is a great way to raise self-awareness around just how much time is spent mindlessly scrolling Instagram. There’s no better time than the present to begin reclaiming those (frequently) lost moments.
Stop Binging Series Alone
How many television series have you powered through solo? Over half of America (55%, in fact) regularly binge-watches television. It’s such a popular concept, it’s recently been deemed a “Word of the Year” by our friends over at Oxford Dictionary. Winding down with some good TV is no sin, but where do we draw the line?
Instead of binging your next must-see series solo, get a friend/significant other/family member on board and enjoy it together. This way, you’re held accountable to two schedules instead of one, inevitably cutting down on potential watching time. Don’t know what you’ll both enjoy watching? Thankfully, the internet has provided us with fun tools to help decide what to watch next.
When It’s Not A Necessity, Leave It Behind
There will be times where you’re dodging out of the house to run a couple quick errands, head to an evening yoga class, or simply to walk the dog. Does your phone need to be on you in these moments? Unless you’re on standby for an impending emergency, chances are slim.
Live the Moment Instead of Documenting It
We’re all guilty of reaching for our phones during some of life’s best moments: a wedding, a baby laughing, spending time with a friend we never get to see anymore. But instead of taking a video during your favorite song at a concert, just enjoy the moment for what it is. It’s unlikely you’ll watch that video, anyway.
Trim the Fat
How many social apps on your phone do you regularly use? How many apps do you use to ingest the news? Can a few easily be deleted? My guess is yes. Trim the fat and you’ll have fewer buttons to click on, thereby creating fewer opportunities for prolonged screen time.
Get Back to the Book
Let us not forget the beautiful lost art of reading a good book. Forget the Kindle, I’m talking a real book: printed with ink, bound with glue. It’s good for the eyes to catch a break from blue light once in a while. Make some time in your busy schedule to forego all the screens in your life. Winding down before bed with a book has been proven to provide myriad health benefits you won’t find while using technology. So, hold yourself accountable and give it a shot. Aside from getting behind on your Twitter feed, what’s the worst that will happen?