5 inspiring self-help books that will change your life
5 inspiring self-help books that will change your life

Jennifer McShane

Jamie Lee Curtis shows every parent how to handle their child transitioning
Jamie Lee Curtis shows every parent how to handle their child transitioning

Jennifer McShane

Toxic relationships: ‘Why walking away from my mum was the best thing I could have done’
Toxic relationships: ‘Why walking away from my mum was the best thing I could have...

Amanda Cassidy

This Dublin home with an incredible reading room is on the market for €1.45 million
This Dublin home with an incredible reading room is on the market for €1.45 million

Megan Burns

These are the six best cinemas in Ireland
These are the six best cinemas in Ireland

Sarah Finnan

7 fun wedding reception games to get everyone in the party mood
7 fun wedding reception games to get everyone in the party mood

Lauren Heskin

‘I still cry for him and the life we planned together. It was all taken away in an instant’
‘I still cry for him and the life we planned together. It was all taken...

Amanda Cassidy

Inside the Greek holiday resort that’s all over celebrity Instagram right now
Inside the Greek holiday resort that’s all over celebrity Instagram right now

Amanda Cassidy

7 movies that will change the way you look at life
7 movies that will change the way you look at life

Jennifer McShane

3-Step LUSH (and healthy) carrot cake pancakes for the brunch of your dreams
3-Step LUSH (and healthy) carrot cake pancakes for the brunch of your dreams

Sophie White

Image / Self

10 simple strategies I used to cut down my screen time


by Shayna Sappington
15th Sep 2020
blank

After a series of alarming screen time alerts, insomnia and late night snacking episodes, Shayna Sappington decided to take control and cut back on her toxic phone habit. 


Did you know the average Irish smartphone user picks up her phone 50 times a day? 

In fact, this phone dependency can lead to a diagnosis of nomophobia – when people have a fear of being detached from mobile phone connectivity. Symptoms can include anxiety, respiratory alterations, agitation, disorientation and even tachycardia. 

Smart phones have become a modern day necessity to many, including myself, and it’s easy to see why; they are used for social connection as well as work, navigation, banking, entertainment… making them very easy to overuse.

There have been multiple studies conducted on how this overuse affects our health. BMJ found that people who engaged in excessive screen time experienced a rise in obesity, depressive symptoms and a decreased quality of life. 

It’s not just this dependency that affects our health though. Harvard Health found that blue light from screens is best avoided two to three hours before bed because it increases alertness, suppresses melatonin and interrupts our circadian rhythm, making it nearly impossible for someone to sleep straight away. This interruption can also cause pre-diabetic symptoms, and decrease our leptin hormone production (which lets us know when our stomachs are full). 

Reader, I felt many of these negative consequences myself, so after a series of alarming screen time alerts, insomnia and late night snacking episodes, I decided to take control and cut back on my toxic phone habit.

Here are the 10 things that worked for me:

  1. Leave work at work

My fellow work-a-holics, turn off your email notifications and leave work in the office. If you are working 9am-5pm, remind yourself you are not being paid to work overtime. 

  1. Condense your usual routine 

Instead of searching for news via my web browser, I created a shortcut and selected my top news sources for my home screen. This way I could get in, read up and get out as quickly as possible.

  1. Designate the kitchen and bathroom as screen-free zones

This eliminates mindless scrolling while eating. Instead, I enjoyed my dinner and had a chat with my roommate. And not bringing my phone to the toilet, significantly improved my Tik Tok addiction.

  1. Find an extracurricular activity

This was a trial and error process. I commute an hour every day, so I tried replacing my social media routine with journaling, which I got bored with after a few days. So instead, I started reading books on my bucket list. I also joined an evening yoga class, which has helped me properly unwind after a long day at work. 

  1. No phone in bed

I know this goes against most of our millennial instincts, but this is the best way to avoid harmful blue light. Plus, it helps make your bed a stress-free zone, training your body to use your bed for sleep only – a guaranteed way to improve sleep quality.

  1. Reward yourself for less screen time 

Google and Apple allow you to set limits on your screen time usage, actually forcing you to stop. Or for something less drastic, try the apps Space, Mute or Zen. When your screen time report shows a decrease, treat yourself to some sweets or something small you’ve been wanting.

  1. Go grey-scale 

Apps are designed to catch attention; I put my phone on grey scale mode and was surprised at how affective it was. I was way less tempted to even unlock my phone when it looked so unappealing.

  1. Disable ‘raise to wake’ and put on your ‘do not disturb’ mode

In addition to turning off my notifications, these two tricks were handy when I was trying to catch some shuteye – no late-night texts or group chat alerts. You can adjust ‘do not disturb’ in your phone’s settings to allow multiple calls to get through too, so you don’t miss an emergency.

Disable ‘raise to wake’:

iPhone: Go to settings-> Display & brightness -> Raise to Wake (switch off)

Android: Go to settings-> Advanced features-> Motions and gestures-> Lift to wake (switch off)

  1. Delete social media

Okay, to be honest, I deleted Facebook and Twitter but could not bring myself to delete Instagram. But it has cut back my social media usage so much by concentrating on just one platform. Or alternatively, take a short break from social media to give yourself a mental rest.

  1. Don’t top up

Most places we go have Wi-Fi anyways (public transport, the work place, university, home). Challenge yourself by not topping up for a while. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.

Photo: Pexels

Read more: Reduce screen-time with these 10 quirky podcasts for kids

Read more: Reward, entertainer, pacifier: How screens became the default parenting tool

Read more: This book inspired me to break up with my phone

Also Read

blank
ADVICE, REAL-LIFE STORIES
The life-changing act of breaking up with crap friends

Breaking up with friends is a dirty business but sometimes a necessary evil, says Sophie White. Growing up, we all...

By Sophie White

perimenopause
HEALTH & WELLNESS
‘Sure I’m too young for menopause, I’m only 53’

By Niamh Ennis

blank
HEALTH & WELLNESS
How to get your feet sandal ready for summer, according to a podiatrist

Dublin podiatrist Barbara O’Connor shares her expert-led guide for minding your feet, including what we should and shouldn’t be doing...

By Shayna Sappington

blank
REAL-LIFE STORIES
Inside the secret world of Ireland’s kink, BDSM and swinging scene

The secretive world of swinging and kink might just be the most healthy approach to casual sex in Ireland today discovers Sophie White as she dives into the world of rigging, Daddy-Doms and impact play.

By Sophie White

new mum
PARENTHOOD
5 pieces of advice I seriously needed after becoming a mother

After my first baby was born I did not react well and there are some things I wish I could...

By Sophie White

Sophrology what is it
premium HEALTH & WELLNESS
Feeling stressed? Here’s how sophrology can (quickly) help

If you feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed – and if you’re not a fan of traditional meditation – this modern...

By Grace McGettigan

blank
SELF
Toxic relationships: ‘Why walking away from my mum was the best thing I could have done’

Singer Ellie Goulding has described her relationship with her mother as ‘unfixable’. But turning your back on the ‘only mother...

By Amanda Cassidy