Screens have become a universal part of our daily lives.
We use them for work, entertainment, social interaction, learning, and more. I wrote this on a screen and you are reading it on a screen.
Today’s technology is phenomenal and the ability for us to access such a vast wealth of information is changing society at an impressive rate.
But, it’s coming with a price; a price we are just beginning to fully understand.
Too Much of a Good Thing
If you look up how much time we spend on screens on average, you’ll find a lot of different answers. One of the problems is there is a huge variance between age groups and geological locations.
Some studies put the number around 12 hours a day, while others suggest it’s closer to 19 hours.
You read that correctly; 19 hours a day behind screens.
Back in 2011, scientists found that we were taking in more than 5 times the information of people in 1986. We can only imagine that that has increased quite a bit since then.
Information is great, sure. But the amount of time we spend behind screens has the majority of experts worried.
There are dozens of scientific studies out there that all suggest the same thing; too much screen time is bad for us physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The good news is that simply taking a break seems to provide a valuable reset for our brains, allowing us to quickly return to baseline and improve the way we feel.
Here are three reasons to take a break from your screens.
Catch More Zzzz’s
Sleep is one of the single most important foundations of physical and mental health, period.
Almost all of our screens emit blue light, which messes with our circadian rhythm and the production of melatonin in the brain. Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain that helps us regulate our sleeping patterns.
Combine that with the information overload of screen time and it’s no wonder most of us have trouble sleeping.
Studies have shown that using screens in the hours before bed prevents us from having a deep and restful sleep.
An easy way around this is to set a “technology cutoff” for yourself. Two to three hours before you go to bed, put the phone away and shut off the TV.
For most of us, this is no easy task. Maybe you watch TV to help you fall asleep, or you read books on a screen. The bottom line is if you feel like your sleep is not as good as it should be, you have to make some changes to your routine. Start with ditching the screens before bed.
The strength of our relationships directly impacts the quality of our lives. Our screens, negatively impact our relationships. Are you seeing a trend here?
When phones are present during social interaction they inhibit deep, meaningful conversations.
Although applications like social media promise connection, the real benefit of human interaction comes in the form of face-to-face communication.
Taking a break from screens illustrates this perfectly. People report being more empathetic, engaged, connected, and happy.
You will also find yourself being more present and in the moment; the same benefits you get from a mindfulness practice.
The next time you gather with friends or family, try leaving your phone behind and seeing the difference in your experience.
More Productive, More Intelligent
Anything that you do that requires any sort of focus will benefit from taking a screen break.
Now, the majority of us actually need screens to do our job. That’s understandable. It’s the times that we don’t need to be on screens that we are talking about here.
For example, imagine you are writing up an outline for an important project. You get a text, you look at it and respond, then return to your work. Sounds harmless right?
This is called “task switching” and it is detrimental to your productivity, focus, and ability to learn.
Even just having your phone near you negatively affects your cognitive ability; even if you aren’t using it!
The bottom line is that screen time is not good for us. But, by taking a break we can return to our baseline wellbeing.
Finally, taking a break from screens allows us time to recognize how they negatively affect us.
Many people report making lasting changes to their routine after a 4-5 day break from unnecessary screen time.
If your mental and physical wellbeing is important to you, we highly recommend implementing a screen break into your schedule as soon as you can.
A great way to start off on your screen break is by trying out a walking meditation.