Technology can be a blessing and a curse all wrapped into one! Whether it’s sharing a BeReal with your friends, or relying on Slack to finish a team project, we’ve become attached to technology more so now than ever before.
We’ve also been exposed to the negative side of too much screen time. Whether that’s being unable to switch off from work responsibilities, or having disrupted routines due to being stuck indoors - we’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum.
We’re going to break down how you can start to establish and cultivate a healthy relationship with technology, so your mental and physical health can be at the forefront of your mind.
Set boundaries that work for you
Boundaries with technology are so important, and you must find what works for you.
For example, if you find that using your phone, laptop, or watching TV in the evenings causes you to struggle to fall asleep, you may want to set yourself a boundary where you stop using technology after a certain time.
Equally, when using technology at work, you may find that taking regular breaks, or going for a walk at lunchtime can reduce stress levels as well as your screen time.
Boundaries can differ from person to person, so it’s important to reflect and be honest with yourself about what will work for you. The key is to set boundaries that will protect your mental health, and in turn, reduce your technology usage.
Give yourself one non-negotiable
Unlike boundaries, a non-negotiable should be set in stone and will require discipline to implement, especially in the early stages.
On average, it takes around 66 days for a behaviour to become automatic, so with a non-negotiable, you’ll want to stick to it for a minimum of two months before it becomes part of your routine. Whether this is in your personal life or your work life, find one thing that you can stick to every day.
For example, your non-negotiable may be that you will stop replying to emails after 6 pm when you work from home, so you can make a clear distinction between work time and downtime.
Or, if it’s related to your personal life, you may set a limit on your social media usage. Apps such as Instagram and TikTok have built-in timers which can be protected with a password to reduce your social media consumption.
Don’t compare what you’re doing with anyone else
Everyone’s relationship with technology is different, so focus on yourself and what works for you. Some individuals use social media to wind down after work, whereas others prefer to go on a run or meet friends for dinner.
The goal is to have a better relationship with technology for your mental health. As time progresses, your needs will change, so ensure that you’re reviewing what you’re doing every month.
Although it can be great to discuss what you’re doing with others for inspiration - don’t feel pressured to replicate something if it feels unnatural to you.
Create a morning and evening routine that doesn’t involve technology
Especially when working from home, the lines between work life and personal life can be blurred. If you find yourself rolling out of bed and logging straight on to your emails and taking work calls, it could be taking a toll on your mental health in the background.
There have been countless studies and articles that explain the benefits of having a good morning routine, as it allows us to set the tone for the day and take some time for ourselves.
A morning routine can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, but try and create a routine that doesn’t involve technology.
This could be making your bed, having a coffee and some breakfast, taking a shower, and reading a few pages of a book before you pick up your phone or turn on your laptop.
Or, it could be going on a morning walk without any technology, too. Equally, an evening routine without technology can help you to wind down and get ready for bed, improving your sleep quality and reducing stress levels.
This could be turning your notifications off at 8 pm and reading a book, going to the gym, journaling, or meditating. Creating a simple morning and evening routine without technology can be an effective way to reduce your screen time, whilst also having a positive impact on your mental health.
Remember - you have a choice!
As the majority of the world is coming out at the other end of multiple lockdowns, it’s important to remind yourself that you have a choice on how much technology you use as well as where you choose to work if you are still completely remote.
We now have the freedom to use co-working spaces, coffee shops, or friends' houses, so we can have a change of scenery! This, in turn, forces you to break up your day and reduce your technology usage overall.