With so many ways to connect to other people via our cell phones, we may find ourselves constantly staring at our screens. Have you ever done that thing where you scroll through your Instagram or Facebook newsfeed and close the app, only to re-open it a few seconds later? Our phones have so much information and ways to distract us that it can be difficult to pull away sometimes, but it’s important to set boundaries for yourself as too much time with our devices can have serious consequences.
If you’re looking for ways to enjoy life without staring at your phone, computer, tablet or even TV screen, we’ve rounded up some ideas of other fun activities, like diamond painting and spending time outside. Before we dive into our favorite screen-free adult activities, let’s talk a little bit about why too much time with our screens can be bad.
Why You Should Cut Down Screen Time
Causes Sleeping Issues
One of the biggest, and most common, issues associated with too much screen time is the impact it has on our sleeping schedule. If you’re like most people, you probably tuck yourself into bed at night, plug your phone into its charger next to your bed and do one last scroll through your newsfeeds, emails, etc. before you hit the hay. Although many people feel inclined to check their phone before bed, this is one of the worst things you can do for your sleep—especially if you already struggle with sleep problems.
Our bodies have a natural circadian rhythm that allows us to create sleep patterns based on our environment (when the sun rises and sets) and our own natural hormone production. However, the blue light emitted from our screens greatly disrupts this natural process. This type of light actually stimulates our brains, so taking it in right before we close our eyes to go to sleep will naturally cause problems. It’s recommended that you put your phone away 30 to 60 minutes before you plan on going to sleep and avoiding any other screen during that time as well.
Can Induce Feelings of Stress or Anxiety
Too much time on our devices has also been shown to lead to increased feelings of anxiety and stress. There are many reasons for these feelings. Spending more time on your phone than in the real world can cause a sense of disconnection, leading to anxiety and depression. There is also an impulse to compare your lives to other people’s lives when you’re using social media too much, which also causes mental health issues. It’s important to remember that people typically only show what they want to show on social media and that everyone has things that they deal with and stress over in their life. Setting boundaries for yourself and limiting your time on your device and social media platforms can have a major effect on your mental health.
Another common issue associated with screen time is decreased productivity. This one kind of explains itself. Social media and other online platforms are addicting and the endless scroll features can make it difficult to pull away. The more time you spend browsing on your phone, the less time you’re focusing on other important tasks or responsibilities. Limiting your phone time during work hours or family time can help with this issue.
Screen-Free Activities to Try
1. Diamond Painting
Crafting is one of our favorite hobbies to do when we’re trying to break away from our devices. Not only is crafting fun and encourages creativity, but it also has been shown to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety—something that our phones can induce. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try starting a diamond art project and working on it a little bit each day until you finish creating a masterpiece that you can proudly display in your home. Having a hobby like this that brings you joy will distract you from your devices and promote your motivation to try other activities.
2. Walking Through the Park
Spending time in any outdoor setting is greatly beneficial to us. We often spend too much time indoors between our screens and our work-centric way of life. Taking a walk through the park or even just your own neighborhood is a great way to spark the joy for life and uplift your mood. Harvard University reported research that shows the amount of time people spend outside correlates with reduced feelings of anxiety and depression.
Writing in a journal is one of the best ways to release tension and work through the experiences in your life. Some people like to write about what’s happening in their daily life while others prefer different journaling exercises that might touch on things that you’re grateful for or plans for the future. Try writing in a journal for a few minutes every day. If you’re usually glued to your phone in the evening, this might be a good exercise to work into your nighttime routine. Use this time to reflect on your day and set yourself up for success the following morning.
4. Writing a Letter
Because we’re so tuned in to our phones and accustomed to contacting people at any moment of the day through text, call or social media, we often forget about the old-fashioned way to communicate—by letter. Make it your goal to sit down and write a letter to someone from time to time instead of just relying on text messages or social media DMs to stay in touch. It’s a great exercise for you and it’ll make your friend or family member feel special to receive a handwritten note.
Break Away from Your Screen and Try New Activities
Because we have our phones on us all the time, it’s easy to get caught up in our screens. Everyone struggles with this issue to some degree or another. But, too much time on our devices has negative impacts—from causing sleep disruptions to messing with our mental health. It’s important to recognize when your screen time is becoming a problem and try to reverse it by replacing screen time with other activities, like going outside or writing a letter.