11 Mar 2021

3 quick tips to boost well-being during a time of excessive digital and screen exposure

Niraj Shah, Digital well-being speaker and repeat entrepreneur
3 quick tips to boost well-being during a time of excessive digital and screen exposure

WFH has entered the lexicon and even as lockdown restrictions start easing, many of us will continue to have more digital and screen time than normal for a little while longer. 

I’ve been obsessed with the relationship between technology and the human brain for some years and regularly run workshops for the likes of Amazon, Starbucks and Cisco on how we can manage and embrace our increased use of technology better - without digital detox or guaranteed failure strategies like ‘discipline' - whilst still getting everything we need from it.

It’s a huge topic with many layers. Here’s 3 quick tips to help you look after yourself better when it comes to our current increased digital and screen time. 

1. Does this one have to be a video call?

“Zoom fatigue” is real. At the start of the pandemic it was natural to try and switch every face to face interaction to a video call. On top of that, connecting with distanced loved ones has been difficult. Natural solution? Video call!

Today I highly recommend asking yourself if each video call has to be a video call. Yes, sometimes it may be dictated by our employers or otherwise imposed on us (often with good reason) but many times there will be a chance to make it a voice call instead.  

Pro tip, go for a walk whilst doing the call and get some movement and fresh air too.

2. Set your screen boundaries

Simple fact: our brains have not yet evolved to go from 100 miles an hour to zero in a matter of moments. 

Using backlit screens after dusk causes problems in two broad ways. Firstly, their blue light sends signals to our brain that it’s still daylight which suppresses melatonin production, a hormone that aids sleep. 

Secondly, the stimulation keeps our minds racing and our bodies in a subtle state of “on alert” or “fight or flight”. This makes it harder to get to sleep and affects the quality of sleep itself. 

The solution? Turn backlit screens off around 60 minutes before sleeping. Use that time to let your mind wind down with a book, conversation, stretching, bath, journaling, candle etc. Dimming the lights helps. If that’s simply not possible then try 30 minutes. 

When even that isn’t possible, a compromise would be to wear blue blocking glasses to reduce the screen and artificial light effect. 

Pro tip: wear the blue blocking glasses after dusk anyway. 

The added bonus of screen cut off times? That dreaded nighttime mindless scrolling gets eliminated!

3. Micro movement breaks 

WFH = sedentary time goes up. Before I know it I’ve spent hours glued to a laptop screen.

Opticians recommend staring at a spot in the distance every so often to help keep our eyes healthy. I apply that same principle to movement. It’s not just great as a screen break, but also a solid way to ease anxiety and boost our mental health. 

It’s so easy to fire up a 5-10 minute workout on YouTube (with the screen at a distance) or if you like dancing then fire up a tune and shake it out. I also highly recommend getting outside even if it’s just a brisk lap around the block or up the street and back. 

Whilst you’re doing that, why not call a friend and stack the hacks? 


 

Niraj Shah is a technology enthusiast and repeat entrepreneur who loves to learn about brain health and human psychology. You can find out more about his work here: www.niraj5hah.com 

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