Take a Breath: How Screens Can Hijack Our Chill and What to Do About It

by Randy Rosenthal March 25, 2024 2 min read

Take a Breath: How Screens Can Hijack Our Chill and What to Do About It

We all know the feeling: doomscrolling late at night, bombarded by news updates and social media feeds. Maybe you reach for your phone first thing in the morning, only to find yourself lost in a YouTube rabbit hole before you even brush your teeth. Let's face it, screens are a constant presence in our lives, and they can be amazing tools for connection, information, and entertainment. But there's a growing concern that our constant digital companions might be having a sneaky effect on our well-being.

Here's the thing: our bodies are wired with two main nervous system modes – chill and thrill. The parasympathetic nervous system is our chill mode, helping us relax, digest our food, and generally unwind. On the other hand, the sympathetic nervous system kicks us into thrill mode, releasing stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol when we face danger or need a burst of energy.

The problem with screens is that they can trick our bodies into staying stuck in thrill mode a little too much. The constant notifications, the flickering blue light, the fear of missing out (FOMO) – it all adds up to a steady stream of low-level stress signals**. Research suggests that excessive screen time can disrupt the natural balance between our chill and thrill modes**, making it harder to relax and leading to problems with sleep, digestion, and even anxiety [1, 2].

So, what can we do to break free from the screen's grip and cultivate a little more chill? Here are a few tips:

  • Schedule Screen Breaks: Just like taking breaks throughout your workday, give yourself technology-free pockets of time throughout the day. Put your phone on silent, or use apps that can help you track and limit your screen time.
  • Embrace the Analog World: Remember the joy of a good book, a walk in nature, or a conversation with a friend without screens involved? These activities activate our parasympathetic nervous system**, helping us de-stress and reconnect with ourselves.
  • Dim the Lights: The blue light emitted from screens can suppress melatonin production, a hormone that regulates sleep [3]. Reduce blue light exposure in the evening by using built-in screen settings or wearing blue light-blocking glasses.
  • Power Down for Sleep: Create a relaxing bedtime routine that doesn't involve screens. Give yourself time to wind down before bed and aim for a consistent sleep schedule**.
  • Find Your Chill Zone: Deep breathing exercises, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation are all powerful tools to activate your parasympathetic nervous system and promote feelings of calm.

By incorporating these tips and being more mindful of our screen habits, we can take back control and cultivate a healthier relationship with technology. Remember, it's not about demonizing screens – they're a part of our lives. But by being more intentional about our screen time and prioritizing activities that promote relaxation**, we can ensure that technology enhances, rather than hinders, our well-being.

References:


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Insights

Pen to Paper or Pixels? Exploring the Pros and Cons of In-Real-Life vs. Online Journaling
Pen to Paper or Pixels? Exploring the Pros and Cons of In-Real-Life vs. Online Journaling

by Randy Rosenthal March 26, 2024 2 min read

Read More
Journaling For Well-Being: Clear the clutter from your mind
Journaling For Well-Being: Clear the clutter from your mind

by Tona Bell March 26, 2024 3 min read

Read More
Why Writing Is Good For You
Why Writing Is Good For You

by Randy Rosenthal March 26, 2024 3 min read

Read More