5 Ways To Be More Mindful Of Your Screen Time During Coronavirus Quarantine

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5 Ways To Be More Mindful Of Your Screen Time During Coronavirus Quarantine

My screen time report told me last week that I had spent an average of 7 hours a day on my phone! It was a pretty unwelcome notification to wake up to on a Monday morning. That’s 7 hours I could have spent reading, getting fresh air, cleaning my apartment, or, I don’t know, learning a language.

But beating myself up about the extra time I’m spending on my phone these days isn’t helpful. I have been doing all these things (well, except for the learning a language part), there’s just too many hours in the day to not slip on to your phone for a large amount of it. 

If you're like me, learning how to be mindful of your screen time has been weighing in the back of my mind.

RELATED: The Psychological Reason You Can't Stop Checking Your Phone

We’re living through a traumatic moment in global history, and are struggling with some very real concerns about our health, our loved ones, our jobs, and our futures.

If spending a couple of extra hours scrolling on Instagram is helping us cope, is that really the worst thing we could be doing? Plus, our phones are our main lifeline to the outside world while in quarantine. We need them to stay connected with our friends and family while in physical isolation.

But excessive phone usage is proven to lead to increased anxiety. 

Experts have connected increased screen time with a rise in cases of anxiety and other health problems.

Dr. Nancy Cheever researches the relationship between cellphone use and mental health at California State University. Her research states that the information overload we all get from our social media apps causes us to feel overwhelmed.

"If you're constantly connected, you're going to feel anxiety," Cheever said. "And the more people feel anxiety, that can lead to other things like mental health and physical ailments."

Staying informed in the midst of the pandemic is essential. We need to stay up to date in order to be safe and educated on the coronavirus. But obsessively consuming alarming news coverages will inevitably spike our fears.

I’m not saying you need to put away your phone entirely, because, let’s face it, we’re all way too bored to make any rash decisions like that. But there are ways to be more mindful while you scroll. 

What we need is a balance between staying entertained and falling into a spiral of dreadful apocalyptic speculation. Mindfulness allows us to focus on the present state, and to calmly accept our thoughts and feelings without being overly affected by outside influences.

Taking the time to follow some of these steps will prevent our screen time from becoming a source of anxiety and stress. 

1. If you’re reaching for your phone, be aware of it.

Sometimes I’m already 8 scrolls deep into a news article before I even realize that I’ve picked up my phone!

Try to be aware of each time you unlock your phone instead of mindlessly reaching for it the second you get bored. Ask yourself what exactly you’re setting out to do.

If you need to text a friend or watch a YouTube video to decompress after a long day, go ahead. If you’re pointlessly scrolling through apps as a way to avoid unpleasant emotions, maybe you need to address your concerns instead. 

RELATED: How Screen Time Negatively Affects Quality Of Sleep & Overall Health Of Young Adults

2. Delete unnecessary, addictive apps. 

At the start of quarantine, I downloaded about 5 random games from the app store and spent an embarrassing amount of time alternating between them as a source for entertainment. When I deleted them in a fit of panic at the sight of my screen time report, I never thought about them again.

Even when it comes to my social media apps, I periodically log out of my accounts. This way, even when I inevitably want to use them again, I have more steps to complete and time to ask myself, “Why am I doing this?”

3. If you must download another app, make it a good one.

Refocusing your phone usage into something positive means you get your screen fix while doing something for yourself. The reality is we can’t stay off our phones forever, but we can control what we use them for.

There are so many apps for mindfulness that help us check in with ourselves from our phones. Headspace is by far my favorite. It features loads of guided meditations, 2-minute mental reset sessions, and even workouts that focus on mental and physical health at the same time.  

4. Turn off notifications.

I could be engrossed in the most riveting chapter of a book and end up throwing it to the side the second my phone lights up.

Phones are made to be distracting, and sometimes that’s a good thing. I’d hate to miss a chance to answer a FaceTime from my best friend or forget to reply to my mom’s daily check-in, but there are some notifications we can live without.

We don’t need to know about every Instagram like or Facebook tag the second it happens. You can still check on these things, but do it on your own schedule rather than while you’re in the middle of something more productive. 

5. Set a schedule for your phone usage.

Having specific activities that don’t involve a screen is really important these days, so make sure all of your entertainment isn’t reliant on your phone.

I’ll spare you the whole “read a book” speech because we all know the things we should be doing instead of using our phones. We just find it hard to do them without distraction.

I suggest using an app, like Moment, which breaks down your phone usage if you don’t have one already. Some phones even allow you to put limits on the time you spend on certain apps so they lock if you go over the time you allocate.

You could also set timers yourself. Say to yourself, “I’m going on YouTube for 20 minutes to watch a video before I go for a run.” Once that timer goes off, lock your phone and go back to being productive.

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Alice Kelly is a writer with a passion for lifestyle, entertainment, and trending topics.