Let’s face it. Millennials spend most of their time with their noses stuck to their phone screens whispering ‘please be strong’ to their WiFi signal.
Whether you’re scrolling through Instagram on your lunch break or shutting down your laptop to check Facebook from your iPad, phones have become part and parcel of everyday life. Messaging your mate whilst you’re sitting next to them on the sofa may be pretty funny, but it’s a cause for concern when digital interaction takes over from real life conversation.
How many times have you sat next to a couple on a hot date who keep their hands firmly off each other and firmly on their phone screens? 61% of people admit to being addicted to the internet and their devices – and that’s just people who’ve admitted it.
Most of us who work in media spend hours every day staring at a screen. Now, I don’t want to alarm anyone but all of this screen time is awful for our health, causing relationship breakdowns and messing up sleep patterns.
We think it’s all got a little out of hand, so we decided to ask international wellness expert Karuna Wiese, who was in Manchester for a conference, for her advice.
Here are her top tips.
Get real and gain perspective
Let’s face it. Sometimes 2 hours turn into 12 and, the longer you’re scrolling, the less efficient you’re working. The key is to ask some courageous questions. Do I use my devices to avoid conversation and relationships with others? Do I use my device to look busy or important? Do I habitually check my device because I feel awkward? Do I regularly prioritise the information coming through on my device over interaction with my children? Do I spend so much time on devices that I forgo exercise and compromise my health? How many hours? Am I addicted?
And even though it seems counterintuitive to use your phone more to, erm, use it less, the app Checky is a brilliant way to keep track of how often you’re using your phone.
Remember to breathe
The vagus nerve helps stabilise the heart rate and breathing, enhances digestion, tells your body to relax, supports kidney function and can even reduce all kinds of body issues. So, sing, do yoga, laugh, get a massage, let the stomach rise and fall as you breathe, exercise and be in positive relationships. Do cool things in exciting locations and maybe make a list of things that you want to get done throughout the day that doesn’t include checking Instagram or Twitter or your ex-boyfriend’s status. Create a daily bucket list. Then go out and achieve it.
Look at the bigger picture
Believe it or not, the more we look at our phone screens the more anxious and disoriented we feel. Weird, huh? We spend so much time staring at it. Thankfully, we can gain a wider perspective by zooming out like a telephoto lens. Breathe, deeply and slowly. Oxygenate and nourish the brain. Develop a regular routine. That time you spent scrolling aimlessly you could have been doing something much more constructive, like putting clothes in the washing machine or baking a cake.
Break the mould
We often feel obligated to act like a cool kid in the workplace. We look around at our colleagues who are on their phones most of the time so we also start scrolling. Why not be the staff member who puts the phone away at lunch rather than hiding behind a veil of busy-ness? Why not look up in the street at the people around you rather than following suit with everyone else? Why not choose to speak face-to-face rather than on an app? Consider daily time slots for answering emails and leave other portions of the day for your creative, project- oriented work. Propose a digital-free hour when going to lunch with colleagues or head out for a brisk noon walk with a mate you’ve not seen in a while. Chat to strangers, engage, ask interesting questions. Go somewhere pretty and enjoy the scenery. Be present. Don’t take pictures. Leave snapchat in your pocket. Take it all in.
To clear the mental cache and sweep out the mind, meditate. Sounds fancy, but it really works. Karuna recommends around 15 minutes first thing in the morning and 15 minutes before bed. It’ll also help you sleep like a baby. Meditation is the ultimate de-stresser that supports optimal body function. With regular practice, you’ve really got the opportunity to install an entirely new mental operating system that runs better, is more efficient and is responsive too. Meditation is believed to support healthful ageing, so you’re saving on Botox too.