From staying on top of work messages to keeping up with family and leisure activities, our phones can be hard to ignore. If you’re like most people, you probably check your phone as soon as you wake up, before bed, and a few dozen times in between. Some apps even send notifications that entice you to interact with them more often. Though scrolling through social media can be relaxing after a long day of work, or checking your email might make you feel on top of things, too much screen time can actually cause stress and other negative health effects.
The Evolution of mobile communication.
The inspiration behind the invention of the telephone began back in 1844, 34 years before the telephone. According to historic accounts, Samuel Morse invented the telegraph because of the irreconcilable pain that consumed him after the news of his wife’s passing. He was made aware far too late and was distraught that he couldn’t hear her voice one more time. He was obsessed with improving the world’s communication from that point forward. 34 years later, Alexander Graham Bell was credited for the invention of the telephone; the first audio device to carry the human voice, rather than utilizing morse code. Over the next 130 years, phones evolved in size and mobility. It wasn’t until 2007 that phones began to take on more purpose. With the invention of applications – or apps – phones have weaved their way into every part of our lives. Instead of having to rent or buy books, VHS, DVDs, and CDs from a building, find a computer for the internet, and Polaroids or Kodaks for pictures, we could finally buy one device and keep all of those things central.
Fast forward to now, it can feel like we’re chained to these things. Rather than simply using them to call in emergencies and paying $0.15 per text message, we are sending emails at red lights, catching up on messages during the boring parts of meetings, and playing games or scrolling social media to unwind. Our phones have our memories from the past 5 to 10 years in our photo galleries, and at least 3 to 4 apps that keep us in contact with every person we’ve met since the Stone Age. It’s simultaneously incredible and exhausting.
LED screens can negatively impact your short-term and long-term physical and mental health in ways we’re not talking about enough:
- Disturbed sleep
- Strained eyesight
- Increase leptin/hunger/weight gain
- Fluctuating blood sugar levels
Obviously, I’m not telling you to throw your electronics away. For a good 99% of us, that’s not realistic. However, you can monitor your exposure and adjust your technological experience to release yourself from the web its creators intentionally use to trap you.
1. Limit when you hop on social media.
Social media is the number one time-waster. It’s hard not to get sucked in, even for just a minute or two, when you’re feeling bored or procrastinating from work. Too much time spent on social media can cause sleep deprivation, stress, and depression, not to mention isolation from real-life interactions that make you feel happier and more connected.
Go into your settings and set timers for your social media. Don’t give yourself more than an hour. It will help you become more mindful of how you budget your time on each app over time, and you can expect to be more productive in more meaningful areas of life. If you don’t have an app time manager built into your phone, you can download a queen app to manage her subordinate apps, such as Qustodio, Freedom, or Screen Time. This can be helpful for you and your whole family.
2. Switch up your morning and evening routine.
There is no substitute for sleep. But even if you get enough hours of rest, your body and mind are still fighting exhaustion from the day. Why? Poor diet and lack of exercise could be one reason, but reducing screentime could quickly improve your quality of sleep and overall mental function. Whether it’s a game, the news, or social media timelines, the outside world offers a lot of stress. You don’t need other people’s stress on your mind right before bed or the moment you wake up. Try to avoid checking emails, social media, watching tv – especially the news – and other forms of communication with the outside world so close to your sleep.
Make an intentional evening routine. This can look different for everyone, but the common denominator in every routine should be cutting off all devices no less than an hour before bed. TVs, tablets, phones, computers, smart home devices such as Alexa and Google Home, all of them. If possible, turn off your wifi at night as well. Diffuse essential oils that promote calmness. Color, journal, work on word finds or crossword puzzles, talk to your spouse, and do whatever relaxes you in that final hour of your day.
In the mornings, wait at least one hour before reaching for your phone. Make a habit of getting out of bed immediately, drinking at least 8 ounces of lemon water, and putting on big girl pants – anything but pajamas or sweatpants – even a “home” day can heighten the chances of happiness and productivity throughout the rest of your day. You should see a significant difference in the quality of your sleep and mental clarity.
If you want to take it a step further, replace the time you would spend scrolling or watching tv with journaling your thoughts, observing the things you’re grateful for, and writing down your goals. Repeat your big goals and create daily goals that get you to the big goals. This is the ultimate self-care. Instead of consuming your time with the observation of everyone else’s lives, you’re maintaining a healthy dose of communication with others while investing in your hopes, dreams, and success!
3. Use blue-light-blocking glasses.
Make a habit of wearing blue light blockers daily. Whenever your precious eyes are on a screen, blue light is one of the primary causes of retinal damage. It’s where the headaches and hyperactivity in your brain come from. It has the potential to throw off your circadian rhythms (your body’s time clock) as well, which can lead to:
- Reduced insulin
- Increased weight
- Offset hormones
- Mood swings
- Increased cortisol
- Decreased melatonin
A simple pair of glasses can reduce your risk for all of that. If you already wear glasses, you should be able to include them in your prescription. Depending on your supplier, the feature could be free. If you don’t normally wear glasses, there are specialty models dedicated to blocking blue light. You can typically find them in local stores like Barnes & Noble, Target, or Walmart. For higher quality brands, consult places like Nordstrom, Saks, Felix Gray, EyeBuyDirect, and Warby Parker.
4. Shut off notifications
This may be the biggest time and money-saving tip of the day! Most of the apps on your phone make money off of your usage. Turning off notifications where you don’t absolutely need them will reduce your FOMO – fear of missing out – and the amount of money you spend on senseless things like a delivery meal you weren’t even thinking about before Doordash sent you a notification. If you can commit to checking your email 1 to 3 times per day, shut off your email notifications as well. Don’t let the numbers next to the icons on your home screen stick around. Make it so that every time you visit the app, it’s with intention, not provocation.
Are you ready to start or continue building peace in your life? Join the community of women building lifestyles of peace and fulfillment through their legacy of health.
Looking to get away from daily life to hit the reset button? On October 6th-9th, 2022, I’m inviting you to join us as we take a deep dive into what peace looks like, how to usher it into your daily life, and maintain it no matter what life throws at you. We are meant to pour into the world around us from an overflowing cup, not depleting our own. During this weekend retreat, we’ll be doing just that. Learn more about the Reset Retreat here!
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Sakinah is an Army Veteran, Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Wellness Advocate, Best Selling Author, Keynote Speaker, and Home Grown Chef.
After the untimely death of her husband and business partner and autoimmune complications suffered by her daughter, Sakinah realized life was no longer business as usual. She made the collective decision to redefine how she and her family approached health and healthcare. She has a passion for helping families come back to the table by restoring healthy relationships with food, others, and self. Sakinah believes when women, the cornerstone of the family, learn to restore healthy relationships with food, others, and themselves, it creates a ripple effect for the entire family and generations to come.
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