Working from home, learning remotely, and meeting virtually have us all online more than ever now. Even before the pandemic, you may have spent a lot of time in front of an electronic device, either socially or for your job, and that may have affected your mental and physical well-being. Although challenging, it is important to try to limit your online exposure. There are a number of reasons why reduced screen time is good for your mental health.
Indicators of Mental Wellness Decreasing
Electronic devices are everywhere now. In 2019, Pew Research reported that 96% of Americans own a cellphone and 81% own a smartphone. The center’s first such survey conducted in 2011 showed that only 35% of people in the US had a smartphone. In addition, almost 75% of adults in the US now own a computer, either a desktop or a laptop, about half own tablets, and about half own an e-reader device. Even young children are now using tablets and laptops, particularly if they are participating in remote classes for school.
This easy access, along with the habit-forming qualities of electronic devices, mean increased screen time, which research suggests can have a negative impact on your mental health. Studies have shown that indicators of mental wellness, including self-esteem, happiness, and life satisfaction have decreased over the past several years, while serious mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and suicide have increased significantly.
Increased Stressors and Fewer Real World Experiences
Experts believe that screen time may affect mental health because the more time people spend in front of their screens, the more they experience an increased risk of stressors such as reduced productivity, distraction from personal values and goals, social isolation, and cyberbullying. Reduced screen time is good for your mental health as it gives you more time to enjoy the positive real world experiences that you may be missing while on your electronic device. These experiences, including quiet reflection, quality social connections, and even physical exercise, promote mental health.
In particular, even as electronic devices enable people to connect more on a virtual level, loneliness is actually at an all-time high. Quality face-to-face social connection is critical to mental wellness. Those social interactions are a bit more challenging during the pandemic, of course, but it is important to have real-life experiences with others, while adhering to all the recommended safety recommendations for your health and well-being.
Mental and Physical Health
Reduced screen time is good for your mental health as it is also more beneficial to your physical health and the two are intricately connected. Excessive screen time has been directly linked to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Too much screen time can overload your senses, affect your attention span, and reduce your ability to focus.
Physically, your brain experiences an impaired structure and functionality when you spend time in front of the screen, especially if you are at the point of screen addiction. The time you spend on an electronic device can slow down your cognitive signals, affecting your ability to manage impulses and develop compassion for others, and decrease your brain connectivity.
Screen time can also negatively impact your ability to sleep well and has been shown to lead to weight gain, as your physical activity is significantly reduced by your increased amount of screen time. You might also find that you eat or drink mindlessly while on an electronic device, which can impact your physical health as well. Studies have found that heart health can be affected and an increased risk of conditions such as diabetes or high cholesterol can result from too much screen time.
Healthier in Moderation
Even though it may be more challenging during the pandemic, reduced screen time is recommended for improved mental health, which is a major concern during these trying times. Adults and young people alike are in front of an electronic device for most of the day now, as almost everything, including work and school, have gone virtual.
There is some good news, however, in that researchers have found that a moderate amount of social networking online can be a good thing. A 2019 study found that adults who used social media were less likely to experience psychosocial distress. However, the time spent on social media should be limited to avoid the negative effects that excessive screen time has been proven to create.
The key to maintaining good mental health is to limit, as much as possible, the time you spend on your electronic device. Take small breaks throughout the day to get up and stretch or even do some exercises to keep your body moving. Go for a walk if you can do so safely. Get some fresh air. Finding a balance can be critical to reducing your screen time and maintaining your mental health.
CONTACT BRC RECOVERY FOR HELP WITH YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
At BRC Recovery, we offer you proven psychological treatment for your mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, and trauma. We focus on holistic wellness so you can learn how to be happy, healthy, and fulfilled in all areas of your life. Our treatment plans are centered on strengthening the mind, body, spirit connection to enable you to experience real recovery.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we offer a safe, clean environment so you can continue receiving the highest quality of care. To learn more about our services and to get the help you need, please call BRC Recovery at 1-866-291-2676 to speak to our team.