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How to limit your screen time while sheltering in place

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You’re stuck at home and racking up screen time as you wait out the coronavirus. That’s not good for your eyes, your mind or your body. Staying safe means taking care of yourself. Dial down your digital life and dim your blue light exposure. Blue light affects your body’s circadian rhythms, which can make it hard to get a good night’s sleep. (And don’t you have enough on your mind that’s making it hard to nod off at bedtime?) In this time of social distancing, put some distance between you and your digital devices, too. Take a time-out from FaceTime, for example. To cut your screen time and rest easier, follow these guidelines:

Tips and tricks to limit your screen time.

Track (and reduce) your screen time: In your digital device’s settings, you should be able to see how much time you spend on your phone and how much of that time is spent on particular apps. Set a goal of lowering your screen time from week to week.

Make screen time appointments: Applying portion controls to your digital diet outside work can slim down your screen time. How can you do this? Make appointments for browsing social media, e-reading and watching TV, and then stick to your new digital diet.

Designate screen-free spaces: Don’t take your phone with you to the bathroom, and don’t watch TV or text friends while in bed. Consider leaving your chargers out of your bedroom altogether, so you won’t feel the urge to glance at your phone before falling asleep.

Get an alarm clock: If your phone has replaced your alarm clock in your bedroom, give your digital device a rest. Park your phone in your kitchen or den and go old school. Wake up to the alarm on a clock. Setting boundaries helps with your digital devices just as it does in relationships. 

Delete apps: If you’re really dedicated to cutting down your screen time, delete some of your go-to apps. We’re guessing social media is the primary culprit. Out of sight, out of mind, as they say. With some apps, the better motto might be “lead us not into temptation” (we’re talking about shopping!).

Turn off notifications: If you’re not ready to delete your social media apps, turn off the notifications. You won’t feel compelled to open the apps if they’re not constantly pinging you with “we’re open online” sales and offers of curbside or contactless food delivery.

Talk on the phone: You’re probably getting more requests for video calls than you ever did before the pandemic. Suddenly your acquaintance from work, who you only had lunch with once or twice, wants to FaceTime. Cut some screen time: Replace some video calls with voice calls. 

Get blue-light computer glasses: Unless you go on a digital starvation diet, you will still be staring at screens day and night while on lockdown. Computer glasses that filter blue light will protect your eyes from all that harmful blue light exposure that can keep you up at night. Bonus: You can order blue light glasses online, and they’ll be safely delivered right to your door

 

7 things to improve your life in quarantine.

To get more out of your mandatory time at home, learn something new every day, savour a no-TV dinner, curl up with a good book or go for a hike (keeping your distance from other hikers, of course).

Try any of these seven activities to make sheltering in place more rewarding or fulfilling:

1. Get creative: There’s an artist in you somewhere. Paint something abstract if you’re worried about getting caught up in the details. Sculpt Play-Doh or kinetic sand into fun shapes. Play an instrument that’s been collecting dust in storage.

2. Become a foodie: In your social media feeds, you’ve likely seen friends and acquaintances trying their hand at baking bread. It’s a very specific trend, but why not try baking or cooking a dish similar to your favourite meal out? Once you’ve created your feast, sit down and savour each bite, without turning on the TV. 

3. Catch up on reading: You probably have a list of books you always planned to read. Now is your time to shorten that list. Take a trip to your bookshelf and read some of those books you bought ages ago. It’s probably best to skip Michael Crichton’s “The Andromeda Strain” for now. 

4. Sharpen your listening skills: Give your eyes a break and your ears something to listen to during this downtime. Listen to audiobooks while you clean your house. Tune in to podcasts while you’re cooking or creating art. Play some soothing Enya while taking a bubble bath.

5. Write your own story: You need little-to-no resources to explore the depths of your imagination: just paper and a pen or pencil. The point is: You can create literary masterpieces (or uplifting lists or reassuring journal entries) without using the Notes app on your phone.

6. Get inspired: There are other sources of inspiration besides Pinterest and TikTok. Break up your quarantine-routine by making a vision board, saying affirmations, exercising and meditating. Think positive thoughts to lift your mood.

7. Take it easy: Just because you may technically have more time on your hands doesn’t necessarily mean you have more energy. Sleep in. Say no to a video call if you’re not feeling up to it. Or get back to nature and go for a leisurely hike in the woods — and really listen to the birds.

 

Less screen time, more you time.

When you trim the digital fat from your day, you can lead a richer life. If you use the tips and tricks above to cut back on your screen time and try some creative ways to fill your days while on lockdown, you might just enjoy life more when this current crisis passes. Your friends may even say you look awesome in your new blue light computer glasses.

Your less digitally obsessed life may become your new normal.

When we’re able to eat inside restaurants again, watch soccer matches from the stands and enjoy the freedom to go out and about again, you may not feel obligated to constantly check your phone every time it buzzes. Maybe you will talk more face to face instead of text to text. Maybe screen time will be replaced with more “me time” all the time.