Benefits of reducing screen time

The Importance of Brain Breaks and “No Phone Zones” to reduce screen time and improve mental health

4 minute read

Our parents were right, it really is because of that phone! 

If you bring your phone into the bathroom and endlessly scroll while you're on the toilet, this post is for you.

If you engage in doomscrolling right before bed, pushing your intended bedtime back to the wee hours of the morning, this post is for you. 

How to reduce screen time tip #1: Create distance between you and your phone to reduce screen time

The importance of brain breaks and “no phone zones” are important if you are interested in creating a healthy distance between you and your phone. 

First ask yourself this question: "what do I use my phone for?"

Create a comprehensive list and leave nothing out. In order to reduce screen time you must clearly understand how you use your phone. 

There are many activities to reduce screen time, but this particular activity is great for obtaining the complete overview of your screen time and working to reduce screen time with a plan. 

First, grab a piece of paper and a writing utensil of your choice. Next, fold the paper into three columns. 

Column one: list reasons why you want to use your phone. 

  • Social media 
  • Talk to my friends 
  • Watch shows and movies 
  • Youtube 

Column two: list reasons why you need to use your phone. 

  • Alarm 
  • Communication
  • Check time 

Column three: list supplementary ways to replace wants and needs 

  • Alarm > Alarm Clock
  • Communication > Prioritize in-person conversations and limit non-essential conversations via text and phone
  • Time > Watch

How to reduce screen time tip #1.5: Establish "No Phone Zones"

What are "no phone zones" and why are they important? No phone zones, by my definition are areas within a home or place of residency where phones are not allowed, with minor exceptions. Our no phone zones are the bed, the bathroom, and the dinner table. We have found that while unsanitary, the toilet is a seat, and many people mindlessly scroll, long after all of the kids have been dropped off at the swimming pool... if you know what we mean. Also, if you sit on the toilet for too long, you run the risk of developing a hemorrhoid and no one wants that. 

The bed is an established no phone zone because the more comfortable you are, the more likely you are to get sucked into doomscrolling. Every time you feel the urge to lay down and scroll, head straight to the floor. Utilizing a yoga mat is a great happy medium when you feel the urge to doomscroll, but also want to abide by the no phone zone rule. Don't deny yourself a moment of scrolling, but as reverse psychology works, the more you are told not to do something, the more inclined you to do it. Scroll, but avoid getting too comfortable. 

Exceptions were mentioned earlier. We have established the exception rule only for the bathroom. We are allowed to bring our phone into the bathroom, only while we're bathing and strictly for music. 

How to reduce screen time tip #2: Do not touch your phone in the morning until you complete your morning routine 

Ensuring that you do not touch your phone in the morning before you complete your morning routine is important, but you need to create a morning routine. Your routine does not need to entail "morning yoga" or "a 20 step skincare routine." The simpler the better. 

Here's a simple morning routine to start you off on your journey to reduce your screen time. 

"I am not allowed to touch my phone until..."

  1. I wake up/get up 
  2. I make up my bed 
  3. I brush my teeth 
  4. I eat breakfast

How to reduce screen time tip #3: Get a hobby that requires both of your hands

Lastly, if you find a hobby that requires both hands you are less inclined to use your phone. Another exception, similar to the first tip, if the activities requires instructions (via a youtube video or recipe) feel free to use your phone. Make sure you stick to the intended purpose and for those interested in learning how to reduce screen time on iPhone, do not disturb (DND) is your best friend. Apple has provided the service of scheduling DND within your iPhone, which is great for people that feel inclined to respond to messages immediately. 

How to schedule do not disturb on iPhones:

Click settings > Focus > Do Not Disturb >  Set a Schedule > 9PM to 7AM > Press S, M, T, W ,T , F , S 

You can also add people and apps to a list to override the DND in case of emergencies and allow notifications. 

Activities to reduce screen time:

  • Reading 
  • Journaling 
  • Crafting 
  • Baking 
  • Cooking 
  • Crocheting 
  • Walks/Hikes 
  • Solo dates or dates
  • Explore your neighborhood 
  • Shopping

Get creative! The phone is a great resource and tool, but should not consume your life. The world can be beautiful, but instead of watching people live their life, you should get out and cultivate and live your best life. Reduced screen time does not mean getting rid of your phone completely. The correlation between mental health and screen time is significant learning how to reduce screen time as a student is especially important. 

In the words of our parents "put that phone down, and go read a book!"

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