Today, the pallid glow of a computer screen has replaced the flickering fire of bygone hunter-gatherer societies. Still, it represents the same reflexive refuge during the cold, dark months of winter. Just as our distant ancestors huddled around a fire to stay warm and ward off predators, we find ourselves retreating to our soft couches or beds, mesmerized by our laptops, tablets, or phones. Compared to the inhospitable scenes outside our windows, the digital world offers a welcome escape.
As joyful as it can be to lose yourself in cyberspace during winter, it’s still an escape from reality. Living in the here and now is always important, even if we’d rather be somewhere a little warmer and brighter. Some of our most vibrant and memorable traditions take place in winter for the very reason that many of us feel a sense of hopelessness during these months. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali… all of these celebrations are intended to uplift us and remind us of the joys of life during the seemingly apocalyptic time of winter when we are surrounded by the death and decay of the natural world.
Reducing screen time is the first step in taking initiative and participating in the reality of your situation – for better or for worse. When you put your device down and look around, you might find that winter offers unique experiences and opportunities that you would’ve otherwise missed out on. However, this is much easier said than done. So what’s the best way to reduce screen time during winter?
Why It’s Important
Before we get into the specific tips for reducing screen time, it’s important to recognize why this is even important in the first place. During winter, you’ll be spending a lot of time at home, and this is pretty much an inescapable fact. The cold air, the rain, and the snow will force you back home in a few hours at most, while you might have stayed out all day during the summer. More time indoors means that staring into a computer screen will seem more tempting than ever.
There is widespread evidence that suggests screen time may have an adverse effect on our overall health. From blurred vision to impaired cognitive function, the effects can be quite significant. Experts agree that this is even more of a concern for young children, who spend anywhere from 6 to 8 hours each day looking at the screens of their devices. The good news is that there are a number of methods that can help you reduce screen time.
Create a Daily Schedule
If you want to reduce screen time this winter, your first step should be to create a schedule – and stick to it. When you start to wonder what to do next, the immediate instinct is to engage in an activity that is easy and familiar, such as playing a game on your phone or watching online videos.
When you establish a clear and concrete schedule, you’ll never have moments when you’re unsure of your next activity. Plan out walks, hobbies, chores, and other activities that’ll keep you occupied, and try to engage in these activities at the same time each day.
Engage in “Traditional Activities”
There are plenty of fun and interesting activities you can engage in that do not require a device. Some of the most exciting and rewarding activities have been with us for hundreds of years, such as playing cards or charades.
Simply having the self-discipline to sit quietly and listen to music is another easy choice that’ll help give your brain a bit of a break from overstimulation. Why not cook a nice meal for yourself using a new recipe? There’s no shortage of traditional activities that can keep you occupied for the foreseeable future.
While it’s always a good idea to engage in regular exercise, this might be even more important during the cold winter months. Exercise can increase blood flow and release endorphins, boosting your mood, and providing you with all kinds of amazing health benefits. It’s also an extremely productive thing to do with your free time, and the sense of satisfaction you’ll feel is far superior to any dopamine rush you’ll receive from playing around on your phone.
Find a New Hobby
Winter is an ideal time to try out a new hobby or two. If you’ve always dreamed about painting or creating model trains, now’s the time to give it a shot. You’ll find that these activities are far more rewarding than anything you could possibly do in front of a computer screen. They offer a much greater sense of accomplishment, and hobbies are typically excellent outlets for creative energy.
Have an Open Family Discussion About Screen Time
If you’re part of a family, reducing screen time should be a collective priority. The first step is to simply sit down with your family and discuss the effects of too much screen time. Allow family members to address concerns, voice their opinions, and set mutual goals. When family members agree on clearly defined boundaries and rules, limiting screen time over the winter becomes much easier.
Parents Must Lead the Way
If you’re concerned about your children spending too much time on their devices this winter, it’s important to lead by example. Children typically have a very highly-tuned sense of justice – at least when they feel like they’re being treated unfairly. You can’t expect them to follow rules if you don’t adhere to the same regulations that you have placed upon them. Show your children that you can all still have fun without your devices, and you’ll be amazed at the results.
Whether you’re living on your own or you’re part of a large family, reducing screen time could be an excellent goal for you to set this winter. Although these months may be cold and dark, you can still squeeze plenty of joy out of each moment. That being said, you can only truly enjoy these moments if you make a conscious decision to actually participate in reality – and not the artificial world that seems so tempting during this period.
About the Author: Elliot Figueira is an experienced analyst and journalist with over seven years of experience in content creation. Elliot has written for major blogs, news, and wound care sites. In his mind, one of the best things about writing for a living is the chance to learn new things every single day. Outside of writing, Elliot enjoys science-fiction literature and cultivating various types of cacti.
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios only.
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