Technology has a wonderful way of making the world feel smaller, connecting us to new ideas and people across the planet. But it can also make us feel like there's no room for our own identities, beliefs, and values. This juxtaposition can leave us feeling even more isolated and inadequate than we may notice. Taking breaks from digital devices – and the content behind them – can be a healthy practice to integrate in your routine. We asked our community how they press pause on online life to keep playing the game.
Leave Your Phone Behind
Seriously. Creating physical boundaries between you and your devices can help you keep that commitment to your digital timeout. Whether that's putting your phone under a pillow, in a box, in another room, or leaving it at home for a little while, the distance will make the heart grow fonder, and the practice stronger.
...I couldn't disconnect my mind from what was happening on Instagram so I finally had to start leaving [my phone] in another room to be successful at the break.
Get Outside and Tune Into Nature
Nature is life's best photo filter. Reconnecting with the diverse colors, sounds and feelings of the great outdoors is the perfect way to remind yourself that there's a big, bold world ready to be seen – beyond the four corners of a screen. It also readjusts your eyes to natural light, which is a healthy offset to the drain that screentime takes on our vision.
I visit one of the gardens in my neighborhood when I want to unplug, and I leave my phone at home.
Spend Quality Time with Friends and Family
There's no better reason to head offline than to get real face time with the friends and family you love. The next time you're with the people you care about, use them as an invitation to leave your phone behind. It's likely they deserve your full attention, and you deserve to enjoy every moment in their company.
I work six days a week and my only day off is Saturday. I wake up, take my family for breakfast, and spend time with them, especially my son! No phone or computer!
Download a Tool to Help Manage Your Screentime
I'm an Android user and I use the Stay Focused app. It has a lot of different features so that it can be utilized to best suit you. You can choose to have it limit the amount of times you open an app. Alternatively, you can set a time limit for an app which is great if you struggle with excessive scrolling and get the, "you're all caught up" message on your feed. The feature I use the most is the 'profile'. It allows you to pick certain apps and set a schedule for when to block them. I use it to block Instagram and Facebook during my work hours. It greatly helps me from losing valuable time getting lost in the social universe.
I love being able to connect with friends, get warm fuzzy feels from cute animal pictures, find motivation in the accounts I follow, stay in the loop of current events and explore my many interests. Yet, social media can also be incredibly toxic for anyone, and adding a mental illness on top of that makes it all the more dangerous. I believe that being able to monitor and control this addictive habit is invaluable to my mental health.
Cat Thompson, @kcat2130