From social media like Instagram and Facebook to the unremitting fusillade of text messages, emails, newsfeeds, online shopping, technology can be distracting. Research has also found that it can have a deleterious impact on your mind, mood, and sleep.
The good news is that it doesn't have to. There are things we can do to protect our health when concerning communication technology. Here are some tips to help calm the mind and be happier and healthier in the modern world:
Use a blue light filter.
Blue light is found in cell phones, tablets, computers, some light bulbs and sunshine. This particular wavelength of light has been shown to potentially damage your retina, which could lead to vision impairment. Blue-screen filters or blue-light glasses limit exposure to blue light can reduce the potential for damage to your eye and may improve symptoms of computer vision syndrome, or digital eye strain, such as blurry vision, dry eyes, and headaches.
Blue light also disru
pts the release of the hormone melatonin, which helps induce sleep. Better yet, turn the screens off at least an hour before bedtime. This disruption can lead to inattentiveness, impulsivity, poor school and work performance, and difficulty self-regulating
Blue-light may also have a role in Age-Related Macular Degeneration, a leading cause for blindness. Luckily, non-prescription glasses with a blue light are more readily available and prices are declining.
When having a conversation with a loved one and simultaneously you are surfing on your phone, the quality of that conversation is diminished. When you are trying to compose an email and you are on a webinar, they are both diminished.
What does that mean for those of us who pride ourselves on being skilled multi-taskers? When you are multi-tasking, the brain switches pathways associated with each task as you move from one to the other. With each switch between the pathways, there's a little bit of loss of the quality of that information that your brain is holding.
Set boundaries with technology.
Bring more intention to each task. Low level activities, such as responding to emails, while listening to music, will have minimal impact. But for something that requires more brain power and concentration, it is best to limit the noise and focus on one thing.
If you need high quality focus, such as studying, preparing an important report, or doing your taxes, set an established time to focus on that one project, and resist the urge to check social media or shop online, while doing so.
Take a break.
Taking short breaks from staring at your computer screen can do wonders. Ask a coworker to join you for a quick walk outside or go talk with a co-worker instead of sending an email.
Those breaks really give a period of restoration. It is simply not healthy to sit for extended periods on a regular basis. They can also help with the burden of stress and anxiety.
Experts stress it's also important to talk to your kids about technology. Their brains are still developing and are most vulnerable to distractions and the negative impact of blue light and extended periods of being sedentary. Start with ground rules, like no phones or devices at the dinner table — and have them turn off their phones during homework time.
Certainly technology has its benefits, and it is not going away. As many use screens for prolonged periods throughout the day for work and leisure, it is important to be aware of the risks and protect our health and mind from potential harmful effects.