What’s Your Excuse? ‘Can’t Live Without My Phone
Taking a study break? Getting ready for bed? Seems like a perfect time to wind down with your phone, right? It can be more than just a habit — 58% of teens in one survey said they used screens to de-stress and relax. But can games, texts, and social media feeds really help your mind chill out?
Not really. Your phone isn’t exactly a stress-free zone.
Scientists are still studying all the ways phones, computers, social media, and other tech tools can affect your mind, body, and mood. But they do know a few things:
When you spend a lot of time in front of a screen, you increase your chances of some types of health problems, from weight gain and headaches to anxiety and depression.
Your phone can make you feel more anxious, especially if you send a lot of texts.
At night, screens can keep you awake because your mind is too amped to switch into sleep mode.
On the other hand, true relaxation — things like reading a book, drawing, taking a walk, or listening to music — is actually an important part of staying healthy. When you get enough wind-down time each day, it gets easier to find the energy to make other kinds of healthy choices, like eating a healthy snack instead of junk food or getting up and moving.
There’s nothing wrong with a little time chatting on social media or playing a video game for a few minutes. But it shouldn’t be your choice for relaxation — the time your brain needs to store memories, boost creativity, process what you learn, and more.
Don’t cheat yourself out of what your mind and body need. To really recharge, you need to give all your electronics a little time off.
Get up and move. When you need to relax, step away from screens and move your body. Try a yoga or dance class. Ride your bike or skateboard. Join a team or grab some friends to play a game. It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you get moving every day.
Have fun! Take a break from Instagram and spend time on other things you like to do. Are you a great artist or an amazing cook? Love a good book or meeting up with friends? Explore other ways to enjoy yourself.
Switch off way before bedtime. When you do check your phone or watch TV, make sure you finish about an hour before lights out. The kind of light that shines from your screens can affect the hormones that control sleep, which makes it hard for you to get enough restful shut-eye. Plus, when you watch a movie, check social media, or send texts to your friends, your brain stays active. Want to cut out the temptation to look? Plug in your phone somewhere outside your bedroom and leave it there to charge overnight.