Make Technology Work for You
Not to sound like your mom, but you definitely spend too much time on your phone! We all do. Study after study shows that our experiences of the world are increasingly filtered through our screens. And not only does more time with technology decrease physical activity, but it may also negatively impact your mental health.
But screen time is not all bad. You can engage with technology in a more conscious way, taking a mindful approach to screen time. As the Pearlmutters put it, "A mindful approach to digital media consumption means bringing awareness to the way you're using those technologies ... as well as an awareness of the way they're affecting you.
- Be aware of the power of social media to distort. Comparing yourself to other people online can create feelings of competition that are unhealthy and lead to increased feelings of dissatisfaction with your own life and body. Studies show that women (especially teens) are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of self-comparison. Pay attention to the way you react to your social media experiences. Does the content you view make you feel good? If not, it might be time to take a break.
- Practice safe screens. Spending too much time with technology (particularly in the context of an intimate partner relationship) can be draining. But because technology oversaturation is such a common issue for phone users, there are many ways to take action against nonmindful tech use. You can set a timer to remind you to put down the phone and engage with your environment —or even set a screentime lock to prevent you from overindulging. Airplane mode prevents your device from sending dinging notifications that tempt you to pick up the screen and scroll for a while. These simple steps will help you develop a more intentional (and less compulsive) approach to screen time.
- Take advantage of mindfulness technology solutions. While your device can be a portal to distraction, it can also be a source of joy. Many available apps encourage mindfulness — from relaxing games to meditation apps. Do some investigating and find an app that speaks to you. That way, when you impulsively pick up your phone, you'll have a route to positively direct your focus, rather than settling in to endlessly doom scroll.
Stay in the Now
Whatever approach you use to reduce screen time, remember to stay mindful. Notice your shifts in mood. Do you feel better when you take a walk in nature instead of watching the next episode of the show you're binge-watching? What actions can you take to help soothe your body and mind?
Paying attention to your responses is the key to unlocking the door to mindfulness. By reading this article and indulging your curiosity, you've already taken the first step! Now, step two. Breathe in. Hold it. Breathe out.
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