Most of us use technology every day, most of us use it a lot. This is not necessarily a problem if we are careful about our usage and it doesn’t impact our wider health and wellbeing in any way, but it can become very problematic when it does, causing issues as diverse as eye strain and anxiety!
If you feel like your use of technology may have strayed too far into the realms of unhealthy, here are a few things you can do to change that and finally build a healthier, happier, relationship with tech going forward…
Create rules and boundaries
If you want to have a healthier relationship with the technology that you use each day, it’s a really good idea to set your own rules and boundaries around its usage. This is probably something you already do for your kids, setting them time allowances for using the tablet for restricting which websites they can and cannot view, but you probably don’t do it fr yourself – you should.
Having rules and boundaries in place won’t always prevent you from using technology in a way that could be unhealthy for you, but it will at least make you think twice before you check social media for the 50th time in an hour or spend all of the free time you should be using for exercise playing video games instead. Basically, laying down rules like how much time you want to spend on social media each day, how much time you plan to use gaming, and following basic internet safety rules, is a starting point that will help you to think more about your usage, and hopefully persuade you to start building a healthier relationship with your tech.
Don’t make tech the first thing you see in the morning
If you’re one of those people who wakes up and immediately opens your phone to take a look at Facebook or Twitter or get stuck into the banter on your favourite Whatsapp groups, you may want to think again. Starting the day by staring at a screen is far from the most healthy option and it will set the intention for the test of the day.
If possible, don’t leave your phone in your room overnight so you arent tempted to look at it when you should be sleeping, or as soon as you get up. Instead, plan to start your morning slowly and healthily whether by taking a walk, going for a run, meditating or taking a cold shower- whatever will help set you up for the day. Then, once you have eased yourself in, you can think about picking up the tech if that’s what you want to do.
Install an activity tracker
If you’re the kind of person who is never off your phone, laptop or tablet, one thing that can really help you to get some perspective and make some changes is installing, or turning on, your phone’s activity monitor. This will not only show you how much time you spend on your devices, but also how much time you spend on a particular task such as gaming or browsing the internet, so you can really see how you’re using your time.
Chances are you will be more than a bit shocked by some of your usage, but take it as a target and aim to lower your usage each week until you hit a number you are happier with.
Mute, block and turn off your phone
You might get a thrill every time you receive a notification, but that doesn’t mean it is healthy. Social media notifications release endorphins in the body, which makes you feel happy, excited, maybe even validated, but the more likes, or whatever, you get, the more likes you will need to feel the same buzz, and you may find that other enjoyable activities like exercising or reading a book just don’t do it anymore, which means you will rely on the screens even more and potentially harm your health as result.
By turning off the notifications, or even turning off your phone for a few hours, y0u can break the cycle, and do something else instead.
When it comes to muting, it is a tool that should be employed when you are starting to feel anxious or jealous of other people and their lives. When this happens, and you compare yourself to others, it can ruin your mental; health, but all you have to do is mute those people to start clawing back your self-esteem once again.
Organise real-world activities and meetups
It might still be a bit tricky right now, as we are not over the pandemic yet, and things are still not back to 100 per cent normal. But if you want to strike the right balance between tech and real life. It’s a really good idea to plan some real-world activities and, meetups as often as you can. Once you’ve committed to meeting a friend for a walk or signed up for a class at the gym, for example, you are more likely to meet that obligation, which means less time spent on screens and more time socialising, exercising or just being – all of which are great for your physical and mental health.
Set time limits
If you’re the kind of person who simply cannot switch off and stay switched off, then you might want to think about using apps and software that set time limits on various activities you can take part in on your device, or which in some cases, even block your access to the most addictive websites for you completely. Yes, these apps can generally be overwritten, but it takes more effort, and sometimes that extra effort is enough to make you think again and go do something else instead.
Think about what makes you happy
We all use technology as a matter of course. We rarely even think about what we are doing. Tech is so ubiquitous and so useful in so many cases that we don’t even question our reliance on it. If you want to have a healthier relationship with tech, you need to change this; you need to think about every single gadgety you use and every activity you perform. If it isn’t useful, necessary or life-enhancing in some way, you may want to think about eliminating it completely. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to go cold turkey, but you should think about reducing your usage to the absolute minimum you can unless you find it beneficial in some way.
Think about your physical health
From staring at a laptop all day to stopping over a phone screen for hours on end, there are many aspects of using tech that can cause physical issues such as eye strain and neck pain. If you want to build a healthier relationship with tech, you should look at ways to minimise these kinds of physical impacts. Whether that means investing in ergonomic furniture or taking breaks from tech more often, anything you can do to maintain your physical comfort is really important.
Tech is great, and it has undoubtedly made our lives better in so many ways, but when it is used unchecked by anyone, it can cause physical and mental health issues, as well as social problems, so it is sensible to really analyse your usage and make any changes necessary to strike a healthier balance and use technology in a way that benefits you and those around you instead of getting into a toxic relationship with your phone or social media or whatever.