We are surrounded by screens. We wake up and we look at our smartphone. We go to work and we spend our day looking at our computer screen (alternating from computer to smartphone screen). And then we come back home and spend the evening looking at the TV screen.
So what, it’s not like screens will kill us.
Here’s why screens could be worse for us than we think. According to recent studies, screen time activates our sympathetic nervous system – the one that is triggered when we are under active stress. Even sending an email and waiting for a response triggers that same stress response. When our stress response is activated, our bodies-smart as they are- prioritise functions which are necessary for survival like breathing (faster), or having enough blood in our limbs (to be able to run away if necessary); minimising/deprioritising other functions like our digestion, our hormone production, our detoxification, etc.
So you might not get a study any time soon telling you that looking at screens will kill you. But if looking at screens creates stress, and stress creates an imbalance that affects important bodily functions, it’s not so difficult to put two and two together: spending less time looking at screens can only be beneficial.
And it’s not just stress. Screens not only make us less mindful, they make us less happy. A study published last year found that teens that spend more time looking at screens were less happy than those who invested time in non-screen activities. We also sleep less well. Exposure to the blue light our screens emit can really mess up with our circadian rhythm and sleep quality.
But it’s not like we can avoid them!
You are right, we cannot avoid them, especially if you’re working in an office where the computer is at the centre of everything you do. You do, however, have more control over your smartphone and TV screen exposure. According to recent research, we spend on average one whole day a week on our phone, and my guess would be that most of that time is spent scrolling through social media or mindlessly going from app to app. Check out a video explaining how apps make us hooked, designed with our psychology in mind.
So what do we do?
Go through your phone and delete apps that you don’t really need. For example, if you’re only using Facebook to send messages, then delete the app and only keep the Messenger app.
Deactivate notifications – those red bubbles that appear whenever a new email comes in or you get a new like? Switch them off, and I’m not only talking about the sound. Do you really need to know the minute someone liked your new Instagram post? What’s the worst thing that can happen if you look at the total number of likes just once at the end of the day?
Install an app that tells you how often you use your phone, like Moment. The results might surprise you.
Install an app on your computer like Time Out (Mac) or Workrave (PC) that tells you to take breaks. When it does, stand up, stretch, breathe deeply, look at something else for a few minutes.
Install f.lux, an app that warms up your computer and smartphone display at night, to match your indoor lighting. So even if you have to use your phone in the evening, at least you’re not getting exposed to that stimulating blue light.
And finally, leave your phone alone. You don’t have to have it in your pocket the whole time (not to mention the EMF radiation you’re exposed to –but that’s another topic that I don’t wish to touch upon yet) and you don’t have to be available 24/7. It’s OK if your phone is in another room than you are a few hours a day. It might be frightening at first, but you will get used to it. And your friends and family, who expect you to jump and answer their messages and calls as soon as they send them, will, too. (If they don’t, just send them a link to this blog post!)
This website is for information purposes only. By providing the information contained herein we are not diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before beginning any type of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regimen, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.