Technology is an essential part of our lives now, but spending our free time locked on screens means that we have less time to devote to eating healthily, sleeping well, and doing physical activities.
Too much screen time can lead to detrimental effects such as mental health issues and lowered cognitive function. Despite this, an average Singaporean adult still spends 3.7 hours online, outside of work every day.
According to the Active Health programme by Sport Singapore, here are four habits you can introduce into your lifestyle to manage your screen time:
1) Limit use of social media to a maximum of 30 minutes per day
This may sound impossible, but it really isn’t! Choose to look at your social media platforms just once a day – schedule it like an appointment, and remember to set a cut-off time to prevent yourself from overusing your devices. After you’ve checked your social media channels, remember to shut off any reminders of them, such as notifications on your phone, to reduce the temptation of looking through these platforms again throughout the day. If you want to restrain yourself further, you can even try removing all of your social media apps from your mobile devices. This habit is not easy to pick up, so consistency is the key to developing it!
2) Avoid looking at screens at least 30 minutes before bed
Start a bedtime routine without screens! Screens emit blue light, which suppress your sleep hormones and deprives you of a good night’s rest. Instead of using your mobile devices after washing up, read a physical book or write down a to-do list for the next day. Make sure that you switch off all devices 30 minutes before your designated bedtime – this will also prompt your body to start relaxing ahead of bedtime.
3) Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner without screen time
Focusing on your meals is key to eating slowly and reducing overeating tendencies. To begin with, you should shut off all your devices and keep them out of reach during meals. Eat in the pantry without your devices, or head out of your office to eat away from your computer screen! You can even challenge your family, friends, and colleagues to “screen-free meals” and engage them while eating instead of looking at screens!
4) Avoid looking at screens during physical activity or exercise
Using your mobile devices to time your workouts doesn’t give you an excuse to continue looking at it while exercising! After you start the timer for your set of exercises, put down your device immediately and focus on your workout. If you are taking a brisk walk, put your phone in your pocket. Instead of looking at a screen as you walk, look up and take in your surroundings.
Start by working on one habit you think you can stick to every day over the next three weeks, before introducing the other habits one at a time. Awareness is the first step to changing your lifestyle, so commit to the habits and complete your Active Health journey progressively! Remember: health is about doing things better, not perfect.