Work on Your Wellness: Managing Screen Time
For many IT professionals, improved work-life balance is a key element of job satisfaction. It has a positive effect on physical and mental health, which in turn promotes engagement at work, resulting in higher productivity.
Digital wellness is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle for professionals who spend much of the day on smartphones, laptops, and other digital devices. Used deliberately, digital content can help to enhance one’s sense of wellbeing.
Screen Time: Good
The internet has opened up a world of possibilities. Many use the wide range of online learning platforms and apps to develop professional skills, enhance their employability, and advance their careers, or learn in order to satisfy their curiosity and stimulate their minds. Did you know that you can also use the Internet to relax in different ways?
Excessive use of technology can lead to mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and burnout, as well as physical problems, such as impaired sleep, back problems, and eye strain. Consuming the right digital content in your free time, however, can have a beneficial impact. You can make it a part of your digital wellness plan.
Using social media to engage with people you know, participating in an online community with which you have something in common, shopping online, and watching a film or your favorite TV show are some of the ways you can harness digital content to relax and unwind.
Social media — Social media offers a simple and direct way to keep in touch with friends and family, no matter where they are, and keep them posted on events in your life. Mindless and excessive use of social media, however, can lead to negative outcomes.
Instead of following celebrities, influencers, and so-called "shit-posters," it’s best to confine your connections largely to family, good friends, and likeminded users. It's best to stick to people you can have meaningful conversations with, and who can take your mind off the day’s troubles, as well as make you feel you’re not alone.
Online communities — No matter what your interest or hobby, there’s likely at least one online community that shares that same interest. This can allow you to connect with people in different parts of the world and discuss an activity you love that is stimulating and enjoyable.
Media streaming — Many users subscribe to media streaming services and watch new films, TV shows, or enjoy their favorite brand of music either at home or on the way home. This is also an easy and very popular way to unwind.
Online shopping — Many believe in retail therapy. Whether online shopping is therapeutic or not is yet to be proven, but it can afford temporary relaxation. It’s also very convenient. Even just window shopping, whether it's broswing expensive pair of shoes or touring a clifftop mansion, can provide a positive release.
Games — Then there are plenty of games available for users to enjoy. This includes platform-based video games, web-based games, downloadable game apps, and hybrids that allow you to play a game with friends who have the same game on their devices (or gaming platform).
Games can absolutely have a destressing effect, while also providing mental stimulation and improving recall and retention. There's also a huge online community built around hanging out and watching other people play games.
Speaking of watching other people play games: Sports enthusiasts can absolutely watch their favorite teams online, and even some also enjoy virtual betting.
Screen Time: Bad
There are several studies that indicate a link between excessive screen time and psychological and health problems, particularly for children and adolescents. Issues range from inadequate sleep and obesity to anxiety and depression.
With adults, however, research has not yet shown that too much screen exposure can cause as much harm as it does to children. One can’t draw any definitive conclusions, however, because there are very few studies on the effects of digital device and Internet usage on adults.
What some experts maintain is that more than the time spent on digital devices, it is the type of digital content one consumes that makes a difference in the case of adults.
For example, passively scrolling Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other similar platforms, which often contain a surfeit of negative comments, unrealistic image crafting, social comparisons, and lifestyle dissatisfaction, can have damaging effects on mental health.
On the other hand, conversing with friends and family, sharing experiences with likeminded people, shopping online, watching a documentary or a film, playing games, and even betting on your favorite sport can be quite relaxing after a packed day at work.
Unfollowing negative users, engaging instead of mindlessly scrolling, and consuming enjoyable and interesting content can help relieve stress and make you feel calmer and more positive.
Too much screen time can have adverse effects on some adults. Digital eye strain has become quite a common complaint these days. This results from looking at phone screens and other digital devices from too close for extended periods. Symptoms are eye fatigue, blurred vision, and pain in the eyes.
Spending too much time on your smartphone can also interfere with normal sleep. Some people find it harder to fall asleep and also miss out on deep sleep. Experts advise users who struggle to get quality sleep to completely stop using digital devices at least an hour before bedtime.
High social media usage can lead to mental health problems, such as anxiety, attention deficit disorder, lack of focus, and depression. Some employees find it difficult to manage their time and concentrate, leading to loss of productivity.
When to Dial Down
People who work during the day need adequate sleep at night. The normal office schedule begins at 9 or 10 a.m. and ends around 5 or 6 p.m. Therefore, one needs to sleep at night for the body and brain to get the repair, renewal, and reinvigoration that is so critical to healthy functioning.
People who don’t get adequate rest at night are often those who work at home after office hours or suffer from Internet addiction. Digital device usage should be minimised at night, and as discussed earlier should be avoided at least an hour before sleep.
How to Disengage
In response to the negative effects of prolonged and mindless use of digital devices and content, some companies have introduced features that facilitate disengagement once a user has logged too much screen time. The Do Not Disturb capability on your smartphone enables you to turn off notifications and focus on work or disengage from your device.
There are quite a few apps and tools that make you aware of the impact of technology on your mental and physical wellbeing and enable you to use digital content consciously.
For example, a digital wellbeing app enables you to set healthy limits for screen time. If you exceed the limit, the app alerts you so that you can take a break. Other apps/features can filter out unimportant notifications and messages.
You can also use blue light blockers to minimize eye strain. Dark panels are designed to cover screens and reduce glare. You can also adjust the display on your smartphone and turn on the night light at night. This lends an amber tint to your screen, which is relatively soothing to the eye.