Logging Off

Since the beginning of COVID-19 protocol in March 2020, our lives have changed drastically.

Luckily, we live in a digital age where we can connect with others to address grievances and complain about the state of society.

Humans are social creatures. The idea of isolating yourself for this amount of time is nearly impossible, but social media has somewhat assuaged the pain. However, even scrolling through your news feed becomes tedious as a form of social interaction after nearly a year.

Not to mention Zoom calls.

Let’s just say, I think I will eternally ban the word “Zoom” from my vocabulary after this is all over.

And I’m not alone. Many people are experiencing “screen fatigue” from the prolonged hours spent between socializing and working remotely.

Specifically, a survey found 53% of 2,000 American participants are experiencing some sort of screen fatigue, according to a New York Post article.

The same article says, “The study showed that before the COVID-19 pandemic, the average American surveyed was getting about fours of screen time per day… Since the quarantine started, that number has jumped up to over six hours — and their eyes are paying the price.”

While we are limited in what we can safely do with our time, it’s important to explore options that will disconnect you from your devices—for the sake of both your physical and your mental health.

Enjoying nature

Mask up, and go outside! Whether it’s going for a hike or organizing a socially distanced picnic for two, being outside the confines of your home is a necessity.

It’s the quickest way to energize your body and be reminded there’s a world beyond the small rectangle in your hand. It offers comfort for me in times where I feel overwhelmed by my personal life compounded with everything else going on. When I go outside, I find solace in the fact the world is big, and my problems are small. A nice reality check is much needed every once in a while.

Of course, the pretty scenery helps. Also, if you don’t feel like you can be completely unplugged, you can always listen to a podcast on your walk. Personally, I’m someone who always needs to be tuned into the conversation, so podcasting is how I stay online in the most offline way possible.

Reading

I know, I know. You used to look forward to finishing books, but then school killed your love of reading for pleasure. Well, I’m here to tell you that you can rekindle that former flame.

If there’s one way that is guaranteed to take your mind off things, it’s through reading. I never realized how numbing the effects of screen time was on my brain. Since investing more time in reading unassigned literature, I can honestly say my memory has improved significantly—as well as my vocabulary. I’m a writer, so that’s the kind of thing that excites me.

It’s also nice to feel the same “magic” I did when I was 10 and checked out two new library books a week. The power of nostalgia helps boost my mood and escape reality for a bit.

Cleaning

This is another fun activity you can do while you listen to a podcast. At least, that’s how I do it.

Chances are, while you’ve been busy with remote work and classes, your laundry has been piling up, and there are now 11 empty cups in your room. Instead of scrolling robotically through Twitter, take a moment and spruce up your living space.

Not only are you making your area more presentable, but the effects of a clean room will also help the future you.

Considering the fact there are a lot of people working remotely now, the boundaries between home and work are blurred. Taking care of your home is now double the responsibility it once was because the state of it can disrupt both your productivity and your rest time.

According to a study from the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute, “When an environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus.”

Is it realistic to be as unplugged as we’d like to be right now? Unfortunately, no. The internet plays a huge part in the way we as a society function nowadays. If you disconnect for even a day, you fall behind on work, school, social matters and, most importantly, memes.

However, it’s totally realistic to at least cut back on your screen time, even if just by an hour. Make it a goal to monitor your weekly screen time statistics on your phone. If you’ve logged less hours by the time the following week rolls around, reward yourself.

Don’t feel guilty about turning on “Do Not Disturb” once in a while.