An integral part of the fASHionably fit lifestyle is about maintaining balance. This can be tough when it comes to technology, as we are living in the digital age where we’re constantly “plugged in,” thanks to our phones. They serve as alarm clocks, watches, navigation, cameras, music, and the mothership of all communication (duh). Email makes it possible for us to be bombarded with work at home when we are trying to unwind and enjoy time with family and friends. Add in all of the forms of entertainment and leisure that are dominated by screens -Netflix, television, social media, kindles, etc.- and you start to wonder how we ever existed without technology?
As much as these things can enrich our lives, most of us have our phones glued to our hips and spend more than 50% of our day on a computer or tablet. That is A LOT of screen time, preventing many of us from enjoying the present moment. We are so stimulated by notifications and instant access to anything or anyone that we lose sight of what is happening right in front of us.
Although most of our jobs require that we stay plugged in, we can control the amount of “noise” we expose ourselves to outside of the office. Let’s face it, not all of the content you are consuming is what you initially sought out when you began browsing, and not all of it is serving you. Some of this content unwillingly seeps into our subconscious and makes us compare ourselves to others (or the glamorous moments others want you to see). We begin to criticize ourselves. We’re not *fit, pretty, rich, adventurous, skinny, fill-in-in-the-blank* enough. That we aren’t “enough,” period. Some of this content is strategically placed so that in order to attain whatever it is you believe you’re lacking, you can conveniently buy XYZ product advertised to “fix” you.
Needless to say, there are plenty of benefits in reducing some of your exposure to the insane amount of content on the internet. Who couldn’t benefit from limiting distraction? Who here has felt personally victimized by the internet distracting you from a task you started, completely forgetting why you even opened your browser in the first place?
Not only are we spending half of our lives on our phones or computers, but a large portion of that time is completely unaccounted for; we don’t even realize the huge chunk of precious time passing by while we scroll through that friend from high school’s- new boyfriend’s- cute puppy’s Instagram account.
That said, here are a few tips to help you STOP WASTING TIME and start optimizing technology without sacrificing your mental and physical health! It may seem daunting, but it will improve your mood, your sleep, your relationships, and your mental game. Start by just implementing one tip at a time and see how it feels.
1. TURN OFF THE BUZZ
Scientific evidence supports that we get a small release of dopamine whenever we hear our phones vibrate with an alert or notification. This can be addicting. It can also drive you mad. You can avoid “Phantom Vibrate Syndrome” (yes, this is a real thing) – the false belief that you can feel or hear your mobile phone ringing- by turning vibrate off completely. That way you know that persistent buzzing often heard in a coffee shop or crowded place is not for you! Learn to check your phone in task-oriented intervals. Once you’ve finished the work in front of you, check to see if you’ve missed anything that needs immediate attention.
2. DITCH THE PHONES AT MEALS & GATHERINGS
Have a phone-free rule when your group of friends meet for drinks or coffee. Set phones on ‘do not disturb’ and pile them in the middle of the table. Notice how this transforms the quality of your time together and allows you to truly engage. Imagine a family dinner at home without any technology. What’s this!? Could it be… eye contact? How novel! This is also a good way to brush up on your basic conversation skills, as you may have forgotten what it is like to share uninterrupted silences and how to be comfortable during natural lulls in dialogue.
3. CURATE YOUR CONTENT
Curate your social media feeds to show content you know you want to see and more importantly, that will bring you UP! If you are working on making a change, fill your feed with real people who inspire you! Don’t fixate longingly on photos of insta-models who make you feel inadequate. Chances are their photos are posed and edited to promote an image or brand. It could also be helpful to unfollow/defriend anyone who isn’t relevant in your life anymore if they are not posting quality content. Time to curtail and minimize the circle of influence!
4. DIGITAL DETOX BEFORE BED
Try to step away from technology 1-2 hours before you plan to head to bed. Studies have shown that people who read on light-emitting devices take longer to fall asleep, have less REM sleep, take longer to wake up and feel sleepier in the morning! Leave your computer, ipad, phone outside of your room or somewhere you can’t reach from your bed (also buying an alarm clock isn’t the worst idea in the world – you can get them for as low as $3). This will allow you time to decompress from all of the stimulation and to focus on preparing for rest. Instead, you could read a book, write, take a hot bath, or maybe do some light stretching and pampering to counteract all of the time spent hunched over at your desk or commuting.
5. BEWARE OF THE BLUE LIGHT
Blue light alters our body’s natural clock, also known as our circadian rhythm. It suppresses melatonin production, which is necessary for restful sleep and aids our hard-working brains and organs in recovery so that we can kick butt again the next day. You can combat the harm done by tinting the temperature on your computer display and by using the “Nightshift” setting on your phone after the sun has set. There is a useful and FREE computer app called “f.lux,” which allows you to set your wake up time and it will automatically tint your computer with the natural setting of the sun. This will keep your blue light exposure in sync with your circadian rhythm!