Screen time, burnout, and disconnection
When did you last make eye-contact with your loved ones?
It feels a little like some of those sci-fi fantasy movies from decades ago are starting to come true. With the rise of social media, our lives have already started to migrate online. So this is a call from the 3-dimensional ‘real’ world to remind you that your body, your mind, and our soul still live here on planet earth – along with all of your loved ones!
It’s amazing that we can sit next to our partners all evening, side-by-side on the same comfy sofa, with our minds removed from our physical reality. Living in our virtual world, our screen time is on the increase. So I have to stop and wonder what the implications are for our earth-bound selves.
At what point do we negatively affect our health and our relationships?
In the Entrepreneur community, many of my students and clients have experienced burnout. When they describe their experiences to me, a common factor is excessive time on their devices. From working late on laptops, to picking up messages into the night – they often end up over-tired and anxious. We are aware that all the blue light at night is bad for our body clock – but the problem goes much deeper than this.
It is our work culture of always being available; to our boss, our clients, and also to our friends that chips away quietly at our boundaries.
As much as we have the good intentions to de-stress in the evenings and be present for our family, we rarely stick to our guns. A device beeps, we reflexively look, and then we are drawn into a conversation that takes us away to the land of work or other responsibilities.
At my new company, In8Vitality, we are in an interesting position. Our small team is scattered across different time zones, and we use tech to stay in touch, of course. But as a team, we are also mindful of our company values – and very keen not to undermine them. So while we spend our days teaching wellness, mindfulness, meditation and health – we also make sure to maintain our own boundaries and wellbeing.
So we know it’s not impossible to cut back screen time, making time for our own self-care, as well as being present with our loved ones. It’s just against the current culture, and therefore a little challenging. But what fun would life be without challenges?
In our team we each spend 8 minutes, twice per day in meditation, at a minimum. The research shows that this is enough to experience the benefits of mediation, and let’s be honest, it’s an amount of time that most of us could carve out for ourselves. Even if that be on the train travelling to and from the office, using a guided meditation on our phone. Sometimes tech can work with us, not against us!
Here are a few anti-burnout hacks you can try with your devices:
- Enable the ‘Night Shift’ setting on your smartphone, which is found in the display settings. Your phone screen changes hue to a warmer color between the times you choose to limit your blue light exposure in the evenings. This has been shown to help people fall asleep faster when they go to bed, as blue light stimulates our cortisol waking response.
- Put your laptop in a different room after work hours. Or if you are really brave, leave it at the office! The current culture of always being available won’t shift until we all start doing things differently. I recently had a few completely WIFI-free days while traveling in India. At first I felt a little out of the loop, but once I relaxed and remembered my ‘out of office’ responder was on for a reason, I really enjoyed the freedom. We were not designed to live 24 hours a day in the online world. Allow yourself to switch off and reset.
- Use your smartphone for good by downloading some guided meditations that you can use on your journey to work, or even on your lunch break.
The motivational speaker and author, Brendon Burchard, raves about using a meditation as a transition when coming home from work. He says that transitioning his state allows him to be fully present with his partner when he gets home from a hectic day.
If you often come home stressed, only to rush upstairs and log onto your home computer, then think about trying this approach instead. It might make a difference to not only your wellbeing, but to your relationship too.
At the end of the day, everything from maintaining our health to enjoying our relationships is up to us. The way the trend for tech over reality is moving, there is little wonder why we are more detached from our lovers and family members than ever before.
This is something I wrote about in my book, The Orgasm Prescription for Women. We are all so busy that becoming detached from our love lives is almost a ‘default setting’ when there is too much on our plate. This can manifest in different behaviors, depending on your personality type. But the end result is much the same – fun and romance take a back seat.
So the bottom line is that we can give into the urge to pick up our devices every few minutes, or we can decide to be a little more discerning with our screen time.
When we pick our phones up to scroll through social media posts just to pass the time – it’s scary how much time actually slips away from us! But when we use our devices just for a purpose, from work emails to following a guided meditation, then put the phone down again, we are choosing to come back to the real world where our real lives are.
So when you are making that choice, think about what and who is important to you.
If you would like some help getting started with a short, regular meditation practice to get you on track for better mental wellbeing, then take a look at our Attunement Process community. I offer monthly guided meditations and group mentoring there.