Ten hours. That's about how much time we spend on screens every day, according to a 2016 Nielsen survey. All those hours — texting, emailing, working, shopping, watching TV, playing Candy Crush or checking out funny cat videos — can lead to a number of digital-age health problems.
Mindfulness, the practice of slowing down to focus on the present, can help turn mindless scrolling into healthier, more purposeful habits. Here are five signs you may need a tech break — and how mindfulness can help.
Cybersickness, text neck, smartphone pinky — they're all problems caused by too much time hunched over a screen. Add to that the risk of injury from not watching where you're going, and you're headed for trouble.
Start training yourself to press pause during screen time. When you focus on the present, what do you notice? Are your shoulders hugging your ears? Is your neck strained? Are you holding your breath while you scroll through your newsfeed? Take a few moments to slowly breathe in and out. Check your posture and readjust. Look away from your screen or close your eyes.
Chances are you're spending most of your screen time on your rear end. That's not good: Multiple studies show too much sitting is linked to obesity, heart disease, and other serious health problems.
Set a reminder on your phone to take breaks throughout your day. Stand up and stretch. Notice the world around you. When your mind starts to drift to that unsent email or unread report, gently bring it back. Bonus points if you can get outside and walk around the block.
Constantly comparing ourselves to others on social media who seem richer, thinner, and happier can lead to serious depression and anxiety, studies show. Add to that a steady stream of negative political news and it's easy to feel down.
Learning to focus on what's going on around you right now — not on your friend's fabulous vacation or your relative's new house — can help you appreciate your own life more. Gratitude is one of the best benefits of being mindful.
That flickering light from your laptop or phone can interfere with your body's clock, resulting in poorer quality rest.
Make bedtime a soothing ritual. In one small study, people who practiced mindful meditation before bed slept better than those who didn't. Shut down screens an hour before bed (no TV in the bedroom!) and focus on your day winding down.
If you've ever been "phubbed" — snubbed by someone who's glued to their phone — you know for yourself: Screen time is killing our relationships, and research confirms it.
Make dinner a time to unplug. Nix the phones and start listening in a mindful way. Make eye contact. Try not to interrupt or think about how you wished they'd remembered to take out the trash or get dog food. Mindfulness is about learning to savor the moment.
Top Image Credit: Fulltimegipsy/Shutterstock