Are you guilty of disappearing down a digital rabbit hole of social media posts, emails and text messages as soon as you get a notification, even if it is in the middle of Christmas or New Year’s celebrations?
The holidays should be a time to socialise and engage with others in person instead of being distracted by technology and spending time glued to our screens.
It may be too late to change the extraordinary events of 2020, but the fate of the upcoming festive season is still in our hands. Make it a time to relax, unwind and spend quality time with family and friends – a chance to come together, celebrate and connect.
In addition to being more present with the people around you, putting your phone down and unplugging from technology also offers a multitude of health and wellbeing benefits. It can reduce stress and anxiety as well as lessen eyestrain, improve sleep and mental focus, and provide you with more time to engage in other activities and exercise.
So, what can you do to reduce your social media usage and overall screen time this coming holiday season and beyond? Here are our tips to ensure that you are present and engaged with the people around you, instead of mindlessly burying your face in your phone.
Change your behaviour and adopt healthier habits
Notice when and how you use your phone
Ask yourself why you’re reaching for your phone and what purpose it serves for using it in that moment. Are you picking it up unconsciously or is there a specific reason? Become aware of the relationship you have with your phone and if it is an unhealthy choice, acknowledge this and self-correct your behaviour.
Become comfortable with stillness
Practice doing nothing, instead of taking your phone to the bathroom, using it in a lift or while you’re waiting for the barista to make your coffee. Learn to be alone with your thoughts.
Practice mindful eating
By switching off during mealtimes and practising eating mindfully – whether eating alone or with others, you will enjoy your food more, give your eyes a break, and likely feel more refreshed, connected and energised.
Charge your phone outside the bedroom
Consider leaving your phone outside of the bedroom will remove the temptation to check messages before bed or first thing in the morning. This can also give you some screen-free time to wind down before bed.
Don’t binge-watch TV in bed
It is significantly easier to turn off an addictive Netflix series when watching from your couch, and the exposure to blue light from screens before bed can also negatively disrupt your quality of sleep.
Separate home and work-life
While you may feel the need to stay up-to-date and constantly connected to work, checking your work emails around the clock not only increases screen time but can be a major contributor to high-stress levels.
Find a new activity for boredom
Come up with a list of activities that you already love doing or things you want to try and refer back to the list when you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or other social media. Exercise, knitting, reading, yoga, going to the beach, crosswords, cooking – the possibilities are endless for anything from five minutes to an hour.
Declutter and reorganise your technology
Monitor and Track Screen Time
Do you know how much time you actually spend on your phone? Most phones have a Screen Time setting where you can track, analyse and change your settings to monitor restrict or set limits in total or for specific apps.
Remove Mindless Apps
Declutter the apps on your screen by asking yourself if they are really adding value to your life. If you’re not sure, delete it. Or at the very least move them from your home screen to a folder where they are out of view.
Turn Off Notifications
Notifications are distractions from what is actually happening in the present moment. Turn off your notifications and only go on your phone when you want/need something, rather than constantly being disrupted by notifications.
Change Your Phone Settings
Use Airplane Mode or the Do Not Disturb function to limit usage and help unplug from your phone. You can set it to allow calls from specific numbers in case of emergencies, schedule regular breaks when your phone silences calls or texts or even set bedtime parameters to limit distractions – handy if you really need to use your phone for an alarm clock. You can also set a longer passcode or remove fingerprint or face identification access to decrease the speed of access or even change the screen colours to a monotone black and white to lessen the appeal.
Social Media Declutter
Fill your social media feeds with accounts that inspire you and make you feel positive about yourself and your life. Unfollow accounts that prompt negative thought or people that you compare yourself to.
Keep the festive spirit flowing
Allocate time for using your phone
Set aside specific times to connect and chat with absent friends and family living elsewhere around the country or abroad.
Swap one screen for another
Television can be a fantastic way to bring people together. Watching cheesy Christmas movies and shows, sporting events or new releases blockbusters can become a tradition and be a great excuse to spend time together, snuggled up on the sofa and unwinding over the holidays.
Get the board games out
A popular way to unplug and spend quality time with loved ones around this time of year -particularly suitable for all ages to participate.