An Hour Off

Something I have always been well aware of and not liked is a feeling of addiction. One of the main reasons why i’ve never smoked, drank or tried drugs is not wanting to fall into a cycle of being reliant on something.

On the few times that i’ve found myself with an addiction, e.g. caffeine. I have made a concerted effort to cut the addiction off at the source, often going cold turkey until I no longer crave it. When I wanted to reduce my consumption of caffeinated and carbonated drinks (after realising I was literally having withdrawals after a day of not drinking it) I reduced my intake to one glass a day, until it got to the point where I could easily go a few days without drinking it. Now I very rarely drink carbonated drinks (to be honest, when you remove the addictive need for it most carbonated drinks don’t even taste that good).

One of the most common modern addictions is screens, queue groans from everyone. But it’s true, how many of you spend all day at work staring at a screen and then go home and watch TV, play on your phone or mindlessly scroll through social media? I’m betting quite a lot of you.

I’m not saying that we should all go back in time and completely denounce all technology. I myself have made friends all over the world through social media, I make and run this blog through a screen. What i’m saying is that we need a break from screens.

I realised that my screen was becoming a bit of an addiction when it got to the point that I couldn’t leave one room without taking my phone with me, I couldn’t even go to the toilet without scrolling through Facebook or watching a youtube video.

Studies have shown that this screen addiction can ruin sleep schedules, cause an increase in depression, stop us from connecting with family and friends in real life and stop us from completing even pleasant tasks. For me my screen stopped me from doing one of my favourite past times, reading.

If I manage to rip myself away from my phone or the TV and pick up a book then i’m still very aware of the fact that i’m not paying attention to the constant stream of information that my screens are trying to jam down my throat. My phone is still next to me, and any notification I get draws me out of my book. Even if I don’t look at it, that buzz is enough to break my immersion in my task.

How many of you have been in the middle of a non-screen related task and stopped it to check your phone because it buzzed?

Another negative impact of being absorbed in our screens is, as I stated previously, that we are constantly assaulted by, often mindless, information in the form of adverts and social media posts.

So why not try and break the control that your screen has over you? I have started by taking at least an hour a day to do something completely separate from a screen, I go for a walk, I read, I make things. This hour off includes leaving my phone in another room so that i’m not tempted by it or distracted by the buzzing of notifications.

Of course just one hour a day doesn’t break the habit of screen addiction but it does make it easier to go longer without your screen. Often my hour off bleeds into two hours because i’m absorbed into my task without distraction. It makes me less tired, helps my mind relax and allows me to actually complete tasks that i’ve wanted to do for a while. It also helps me to stop buying pointless things because i’m not scrolling through social media and being subtly bombarded by adverts. I have also made the decision to leave the screens at least half an hour before I go to sleep, to help my mind shut down and help prevent insomnia.

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