Mental Health Awareness: Keeping your screen time healthy

A man who uses three devices

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You just turned off the TV, looked at the phone and realized it was 2:00 am. It takes a few hours to turn on the laptop to start the working day.

Let’s face it, many of us can connect to that process of screen shots, screen shots and multiple screens, especially in blocking the coronavirus.

Weekly on-screen reports have attracted many iPhone users, and the data provided to Radio 1 Newsbeat by the Moment screen monitoring app shows a 30% increase in phone usage compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Spending a lot of time looking at screens can be detrimental to physical and mental health, so if you plan on using your devices a little too much while locking up, here’s what you can do to keep things healthy.

1. Take breaks

There is no “fixed amount” for how long the screen is healthy. But you don’t want to be “for hours on end, letting it interfere with life,” according to Dr. Chetna Kang.

Dr Kang is a psychiatrist consultant specializing in technology addictions at the Mental Health Unit of Nightingale Hospital.

“Don’t spend more than an hour on the screen at a time. Even a 15-minute break is good for you.”

This is because working on a computer for a long time can strain the eyes, causing headaches and eye ache.

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Chetna Kang

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“Don’t let it get to where technology controls you”

It also applies to your mental health.

“Technology can become an easy way to distract us.

“By taking breaks, you are fixing things where you can use them in a healthy way, protecting emotional and psychological well-being.”

2. Identify the triggers

Why do we end up on our phones, tablets or TVs?

If you answer this question, dr. Kang says there is a lot you can do to keep healthy time on the screen.

“Sometimes you can automatically go to it and use your device because it’s a habit.”

To avoid this, he recommends identifying the triggers – things like “boredom, irritation or some kind of ailment”.

Instead of turning to a screen for convenience, talk to someone about what the problem is, write a letter about it, or find an alternative that stimulates you.

3. Plan the screen time

As with anything we do, planning can go a long way.

Dr. Kang says it helps establish times during the day when you’re not near a screen.

“Allow yourself a moment in the morning before which you won’t even touch a screen.”

With many of us relying on our phones as alarm clocks, dr. Kang says there is a simple alternative: “a normal alarm clock”.

“It’s another way to spend some time in the morning.”

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Blue light from devices can be harmful to sleep

But it is even more important at night.

“Spend an hour before sleeping without looking at a screen, because the blue light from the devices can cause our brain to think it’s still daylight,” he says.

  • Five tips to help you sleep better

4. Find alternative ways to connect

Whether it’s Zoom, FaceTime, a Skype call or Houseparty, video calls are practically the only way we can see our loved ones these days.

But the dr. Kang says it’s not always necessary to reach a screen, because “people don’t necessarily feel connected to the screen anymore.”

He adds that it is ultimately about hearing what the other person says, which may be easier through a regular phone call.

“We are looking into a camera. And sometimes there is a delay, so we need to be more careful about listening.”

So you can still chat with your friend, just consider doing it the old-fashioned way to change.

5. Physical activities without screens.

In pre-coronavirus times (remember those?), You could meet a friend after work or go to dinner – things that don’t really require a screen.

But this obviously is no longer possible. Instead, at the end of the work we could switch from our laptop directly to PlayStation or Netflix.

Dr Kang says it is important to perform post-work activities that don’t include a screen.

“Many of us know what life without screens looks like, whether it’s family time or reading a book.

“We should make a conscious decision to do something else after work, like cooking dinner or going for a run.”

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Dr Kang says it’s important to have alternatives to screens

This is also good for our physical health.

Dr. Kang has noticed people complaining of shoulder or neck pain after spending years on the screen.

“It’s mainly because of posture. The way people use it in bed or sitting on a chair.”

Realistically, he adds, it is impossible to think of a life without screens.

“They are everywhere and we need them. They help our lives.

“Instead of imagining a life without a screen, steal some time and try to stay in control.”

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