Nowadays, we are surrounded by digital devices more than ever. Smartphones, laptops, tablets and other technologies accompany us throughout the day and have certainly enriched our lives. But while the benefits are obvious, there is also the question of how this increased screen time affects our mental wellbeing. In this blog post, I want to look at the importance of mindfulness in the digital age and how screen time affects our mental health.
The effects of screen time on the psyche
Stress and overload
Being constantly available via smartphones and the amount of information can lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed. We are constantly exposed to a multitude of stimuli that make it difficult for us to switch off and calm down. Clicking on certain apps can happen as if on autopilot. This constant stress can have long-term negative effects on our mental health.
Using screens before going to bed can have a negative impact on our sleep. The blue light from screens inhibits the production of the sleep hormone melatonin and can lead to problems falling asleep and restless sleep. Scrolling through feeds or watching exciting series is not conducive to falling asleep.
Although digital media can connect us digitaly with each other, there is also a risk of social isolation. Excessive use of social media can lead to a feeling of loneliness, even unworthiness and alienate us from real-life social interactions.
The constant distraction of notifications and digital content can impair our ability to concentrate. Solving a difficult task is particularly difficult when a "reward" is just a finger twitch away. We find it harder to focus on a task and work productively. Our relationships can also suffer as a result.
Increasing digital well-being with mindfulness
Mindfulness offers an effective approach to minimising the negative effects of screen time, using digital media more consciously and ultimately increasing digital wellbeing.
Consciously plan times when you stay away from screens. Switch off your smartphone in the evening before going to bed and use this time for relaxing activities such as reading or meditation instead. You can also try a screen-free weekend day or after work. A classic alarm clock can help you to free your bedroom from your smartphone.
Mindful use of digital media
Pay attention to how you use digital media. Consciously spend time on activities that bring you joy or help you move forward instead of endlessly scrolling through social media feeds. Pay attention to how you feel during / after use of media. Also realise that our time in this beautiful world is limited. How do you want to spend your time? For example, instead of scrolling for a long time, you can do something every day that your older self will be grateful for later.
Removal of distractions
Reduce notifications and unsubscribe from unimportant group chats or newsletters. Delete apps that you don't need. Organise your digital environment so that it is less distracting and stressful. For example this mindfulness app can be helpful, giving you a little forced break before you move on to social media. You can also help yourself by putting up a time limit for how long you would like to use cartain apps / websites per day.
Consciously take moments to pause and reflect on your thoughts and feelings. Ask yourself how you feel after prolonged screen time and what changes you would like to make. Also see if there are certain apps that are particularly challenging for you in a negative sense.
Conscious social media behaviour
Be aware of the pitfalls of social media and don't constantly compare yourself to others. Focus on finding your own balance and cultivating real social interactions. Instead of clicking on the app, a phone call with a friend could be a better alternative.
Mindfulness in dealing with digital media does not have to mean avoiding them completely, but using them in a more conscious and balanced way. It's about regaining control over our screen time and organising it in such a way that it promotes our well-being rather than detracting from it.
What is your relationship with digital media? Are you happy with the way you deal with screen time, or could (small) changes do you good? Is there a first step you would like to take? Feel free to share it in the comments.