Around six months ago, I noticed I wasn’t sleeping as well as I had been in the past. I was having a hard time falling asleep, and I would wake up several times a night. My typical routine was to get into bed and scroll on my phone until I felt I could fall asleep; checking emails and phone notifications turned into hours of social media scrolling. My head would become filled with the latest news headlines, the current Covid statistics, and pictures of the seemingly amazing lives of my friends.
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None of this information was helping me feel restful, not to mention, my brain felt wired from the light from the screen I’d been staring at. My lack of sleep was affecting my work and my home life.
While screen usage in this day and age is nearly inevitable, there are ways we can try to limit it to healthier amounts, especially if we feel our lives or relationships are being affected. For me, screen usage was impacting my sleep negatively.
For some, the impact may come from experiencing physical symptoms, such as eye strain, headaches, or poor posture. Mental health can be affected; in some cases, depression, lower self-esteem, and weakened emotional judgment have even been linked to too much screen usage.
After noticing the effects it was having on me, I decided to start a new bedtime routine to see if I could get my sleep back on track. I now check my phone for the last time, 30 minutes before I want to go to bed. I make myself a cup of decaf tea and wash my face while it is cooling off. I then get into bed and read a book while drinking my tea. I have several things to read on my nightstand and choose depending on my mood that day. I also keep a notebook and pen by my bed. If something pops into my head, such as a task or reminder, I can jot it down without having to pick up my phone.
These small changes have allowed me to focus my thoughts and help me wind down before bed. I still have nights that can be restless, but they are much less frequent.
The way screen time affects each person may look different. What limits need to be set in place to help us be our best selves and live our healthiest lives will be unique from person to person. Generally though, here are some ways to help limit that screen usage if you notice it has been impacting aspects of who you are, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally.
Here are some ideas for how to manage screen time to help make a positive impact in your life:
Set Time Limits For Screens
Some phones can set a time limit for social media, etc. Even if your phone doesn’t, using a timer to help section off times during your day for screen usage can help you minimize the scrolling and stay focused on other tasks throughout the day.
Implement Screen-Free Times Or Areas
For example, setting a boundary not to use screens in your bedroom, or during mealtimes, etc., can help develop healthy habits and allow you a mental ‘safe space’ without that influence.
Schedule Breaks To Stretch Your Body And Rest Your Eyes
In addition to setting aside specific times to use screens, set aside specific times not to use screens- and use these times as an opportunity to take a walk, a nap, or focus on another project that doesn’t involve screen usage.
Have Other Activities Available
For times or spaces where you have intentionally reduced screen time, have other activities available- for example, books, board games, music, arts and craft materials, indoor or outdoor exercise and sports equipment.
Managing screen time, stress, goal setting, etc., can feel like an overwhelming task on our own, especially in the face of the uncertain or unknown- such as in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. Our professional, master’s level counselors are here to help manage goal setting, plans, and stress management and to support the mental health of every woman we serve. Call or text us today to make an appointment!