During the pandemic people are relying on technology more than ever before – for work, school and entertainment. People are even using it to stay connected with family and friends they would normally see in person. However, logging too much screen time can lead to burnout.
Although experts agree that children should have specific screen-time limitations based on their age, there’s no consensus on the limit for adults. I recommend people prioritize types of screen time. Using your screens for work or school should be the priority. Likewise, things you enjoy, such as virtual hangouts with friends, should be encouraged for mental health. The types of screen time you should limit include watching TV, mindlessly surfing the internet, playing video games and scrolling through social media.
Signs you may be spending too much time with your screens include poor sleep quality, vision issues, chronic neck or back pain due to poor posture, weight gain and increased stress, anxiety and depression.
Screen time burnout can be prevented by following the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, focus your eyes away from your screen and look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Doing this can help prevent eye strain. Additional tips to avoid burnout include:
- Limit screen time before going to bed – Aim to unplug an hour before going to bed. Instead of scrolling through your social media feeds, unwind by reading a book or doing a puzzle.
- Support your body – Look for an ergonomic chair that will provide good back and arm support. You can further support your body by giving it regular breaks from your screens. For example, while eating meals, stay away from your TV and phone.
- Find other ways to connect – Most of us are in the habit of texting or sending instant messages. The next time you want to connect with a loved one, pick up the phone and give them a call. If it’s possible to do so safely and socially distanced, you might also try meeting in person for a walk or outdoor coffee break.
- Take care of yourself – Eating healthy foods and getting regular exercise can go a long way toward feeling your best.
- Change your lighting – Add a blue light filter to your laptop and mobile device. You might also consider changing the font size so your eyes don’t have to strain to focus as well as lowering screen brightness or using “night shift” mode that displays warmer colors at nighttime.
- Blink frequently – Dry eyes is a common complaint. But fixing it can be as simple as blinking more frequently. Place a note on your desk reminding you to blink regularly.
Edward-Elmhurst Health can help you develop a plan to combat screen time fatigue. Talk to your primary care provider to get tips to unplug and resources to feel better. Visit us online to find a primary care provider. You can also make an appointment online or by calling 630-527-6363.
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