Do you find yourself relying even more heavily on technology than the average person, due to your physical limitations?
It’s no surprise that those of us living with a chronic illness may find ourselves experiencing symptoms of ‘digital overload’. Unfortunately, many people have found that in some ways, technology has made life more difficult. Using your electronics too frequently and for long periods can leave you feeling drained physically and mentally – on top of the pre-existing illness that you deal with daily.
Maybe you feel that you spend too much time on your devices. Granted, for those who work remotely, this can be a necessity. Or perhaps you’ve noticed that your mood is worse or that you feel anxious and uneasy at the end of the day, and can’t quite put your finger on why. These are signs that you may be utilizing your technologies at an unhealthy rate. However, digital overload is something you can recognize and you can make changes to better balance your digital use.
What does digital overload look like?
You might be able to notice a significant change in your stress levels if you’re using your devices too much. You may experience
You might also develop or trigger physical symptoms such as eyestrain, headaches, chronic migraines and aching joints from a slouching posture. Additionally, people who use their devices excessively have a greater chance of experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
How can you find balance in your technology usage?
There are many, seemingly simple, ways to enjoy your digital devices without experiencing the potential side effects of over-exposure to them. Making minor adjustments in your daily environment by setting a screen time schedule and prioritizing a more IRL (in real life) structural balance can help you limit your digital overload. Creating this structure may surprise you and show you how easy it is to improve your relationship with technology.
1. Create no-screen spaces
If you’re someone who likes to scroll through your socials at the dinner table, it can help to create a personal boundary for yourself. This could be as simple as putting the phone down during meal times. For others, a no-screen space could be a room or an area dedicated to not having any screens in it. When you feel the symptoms of digital overload creeping in, this room is your safe space. Picking a room that has an abundance of natural light and adding some plants or other decor can help make this a screen-free sanctuary. Having a space to
2. Implement no-screen times
This goes hand in hand with the no-screen spaces. But, if you don’t have an entire area that you’re able to dedicate to being tech-free, you can still set aside time each day where you
3. Adjust the way you interact with technology
Whether you spend your time looking at screens for work or leisure, you should be aware of the distance between you and your screen. Be mindful of this, as you should be sitting about 25 inches away, or at the very least an arm’s length away. This may come as a shock to know for many who cannot view their electronic devices without having them directly in front of their eyes. To add insult to injury, you shouldn’t be looking directly downward at a screen as doing so from that angle can lead to neck strain; as well as eye strain and dry eyes.
Using artificial tears to lubricate your eyes when they feel dry is also a more mindful way you can better improve and manage your screen time. If at the end of the day you’re someone who experiences headaches, dry eyes and reoccurring eye irritation, you may need to update your current lenses to better align with your eyesight.
4. Turn off unnecessary notifications
Turn off any notifications that do not pertain to the list of items you’re trying to accomplish for that day. Or, utilize the
5. Prioritize off-screen activities
For those living with a chronic illness,
If you aren’t as able to go for a walk around the block, know that you don’t have to go far to get some fresh air. If you’re able, step outside to enjoy a few minutes taking in the breeze. Or at the very least, head to your nearest window, prop up a chair, and if weather permits, open the window and take in the fresh air. The power of fresh air is severely underestimated in terms of maintaining our mental health and its ability to ground us.
Moderation is key
If you find yourself using your devices excessively, you might be missing out on other activities that take place offline. Time on your device may be time away from your friends or family, which is important for your emotional and physical health. Your devices might also be an ongoing distraction that prevents you from maintaining your work and personal obligations. However, with a little bit of information, moderation, and some healthy screen use behaviors you can have the benefits of technology while maintaining your physical and mental well-being.
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