Screen Time Detox: Step away from the screen and back to your life

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Spring is detox time! We have an endless access to technology 24/7. Smart phones, tablets, laptops, along with an explosion of social media apps means that we are perpetually tied to emails, texts, and messages. The question is: are you the master or a slave to the technology that surrounds you?

If you are concerned about too much screen time you are not alone. According to Pollara Insights, 58% of Canadian feel they, or someone in their home have too much screen time.

Too much screen time impacts our overall well-being, including work-life balance, relationships, sleep, and fitness.

Here are some ways to unplug and benefit your wellbeing:

  1. Be aware. For one week, keep track of how much screen time you have outside of work. You will like be surprised how much time you spend staring at one type of screen or other.
  2. Start small. If the idea of reducing your screen time for a whole weekend makes you anxious that actually quite normal. Start with small chunks of time, say after 7 p.m., or a Sunday afternoon.
  3. Focus on yourself. Plan your time away from the screen in advance and do something that you enjoy. Go for massage, read a book, listen to music.
  4. Screen time impacts your sleep. Screens emit a blue light that disrupts your circadian rhythm, which is essentially your wake/sleep cycle. Good quality sleep is crucial to your physical and mental well-being. Try to maintain a regular bed time and step away from the screen at least an hour before bed. That includes TVs. You can get an app for your various gadgets that mimic the daylight hours and reduces the blue light as night time approaches.
  5. Go outside. Screen time is impacting our physical fitness. 72% of Canadians feel they or someone in their home does not spend enough time exercising. This does not mean you have to join the gym, although you can. Simply put on your walking shoes and get outside for an hour. Although you do see people walking or exercising and texting, (which is not recommended), why not use this as your screen free time?
  6. Spend time with friends and family face to face – in a no screen time zone. Gather for coffee or lunch, put your phones away and enjoy each other’s company. First person to use their phone buys lunch!

Getting control over the amount of screen time takes awareness, planning and effort. Your improved overall well-being will be your reward.

Lucy Belanger, M.Ed., is part of the Strengthening the Forces team and she works on the promotion of positive mental health and social wellness.

Strengthening the Forces is CAF/DND’s healthy lifestyles promotion program providing expert information, skills and tools for promoting and improving CAF members’ health and well-being.

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