Wednesday, 08 April 2020 08:45

Why Setting Boundaries With Our Devices Is So Important Right Now

It can be tempting to stay glued to the coronavirus news coverage — but taking a break from our screens is key for our mental well-being and our stress levels.


By Marina Khidekel, Head of Content Development at Thrive Global
JGI/Jamie Grill/ Getty Images
JGI/Jamie Grill/ Getty Images
The coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has taken over the news, the internet, and our social media feeds, and as each day passes, it can feel increasingly challenging to get a break from the anxiety and fear that fills our screens. We talk a lot about the importance of setting boundaries with our devices to prioritize our mental well-being, and during this time of social distancing, maintaining those boundaries is more important than ever.

We asked our Thrive community to share the different ways they’re taking breaks from their devices during this time. Which of these will you try?

Adopt a screen-free morning routine

“I’ve made the choice not to check the news, emails, or social media first thing in the morning. Instead, I say a prayer of gratitude and set my intention for the day. This only takes five minutes, but it allows me to feed my soul and establish my mindset. As I get ready for the workday, I listen to an inspirational podcast or audiobook. All of these things put me in a better headspace for the day ahead.”

—Wemi Opakunle, author and recruiter, Los Angeles, CA

Block notifications before bed

“I’ve found that establishing a routine that incorporates non-technology-related activities has been effective in helping me find calm and gratitude during this time. To do this, I block my phone’s notifications for at least an hour before bed and after waking, so I am not distracted by my notifications. It helps me keep my headspace in check and allows me to remember to do the things that bring me joy.”

—Samantha C., MBA candidate, Chicago, IL

Put your working hours on your calendar

“I shut down email after 5:00 pm and on weekends. A tip that works for me is to put your available working hours in your email signature or on your calendar. That way, people will know that you won’t respond out of those hours.”

—Michael L., therapist, San Diego, CA

Give yourself a news cap

“I allot only 45-60 minutes every morning for news consumption. While it’s important to stay informed, limiting my news allows me to stay positive and not be overwhelmed by everything that is happening in the world. I also carve out at least an hour every day to work towards my non-tech-related hobbies. Recently, that’s been practicing modern calligraphy and reading.”

—Samantha C., MBA candidate, Chicago, IL

Swap your morning catchup for meditation

“I used to do a quick meditation before getting up, and then I’d instantly turn on my podcast to hear the news while scrolling on Twitter. I would listen to as many podcasts and audiobooks as possible between waking up and arriving at my office. In the past weeks, I’ve noticed that listening to the news first thing in the morning was not helping to set me up for the day, so I’ve created a more consistent meditation routine for the morning. Now, I get up in silence and don’t touch my phone. I make my coffee and I meditate on my balcony. After that, I start listening to the news. I feel much more energized during the day when I am consuming less news and content in general.”

—Renata Gomide, management consultant, Bay Area, CA

Take an afternoon nap

“I have realized within three weeks of quarantine that making time for a short afternoon nap makes a difference in my perspective and relationship with technology. It helps me to detox from my screens for a carved out period of time.”

—Loreta Pivoriunaite, performance strategist, Lithuania

Connect with the people around you

“During this time, virtual happy hours, group meetings, and online counseling sessions with clients have replaced our face-to-face interactions. If you are lucky enough to be at home with others, I find it’s important to take time for some personal space and private reflection — but to also carve out time to cook together, eat together, and create new memories.”

—Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N., New York, NY

Limit screen time on the weekends

“I have been taking measures to limit my screen time as much as possible on the weekends. This not only helps free up my mind and offers relaxation, but it also prevents me from constantly checking my work emails, which as an entrepreneur, is difficult not to do. Instead, I am spending time with my family, reading books, and cooking.”

—Sarah Solomon, publicist, Glenview, IL

Bookend your day with news boundaries

“I bookend my day with positive boundaries to protect my mental well-being. I begin every day with my morning routine which includes ‘good input’ — usually spiritual literature or personal improvement books. I’ve done this practice for years, but I’ve found the need to re-commit to it instead of checking the coronavirus news first thing in the morning. During the day, I allow myself to check the latest updates and to scroll on Facebook. In the evening, we turn off devices and read together as a family by the fire.”

—Rachel Denning, travel coordinator, Dallas, GA

Exchange screen time for reading time

“Instead of turning on the daily news or scrolling through social media, I have been watching inspirational Ted Talks and reading joyful books like Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis and You are a Bada*s by Jen Sincero. These books are helping me gain confidence and take a break from screens during this time.”

—Brie LaPrell, MBA student and accountant, Buffalo, NY

Take an online course that excites you

“I have a tendency to suppress my desire to do fun things online, but in this time while social distancing, I’ve flipped that old philosophy by relishing watching masterclass videos I want to watch, just because I love the topic and not because it has anything to do with my work. I’m geeking out on online physics videos. I actually do get excited and positively stimulated by physics insights!”

—Elizabeth Celi, Ph.D., leadership coach, Australia

Use your tech time to deepen connections

“Connecting with loved ones is so important right now, and I carve out half an hour for it. I set up calls with different groups of friends that I haven’t been able to connect with in a while. Reconnecting with family members and college friends has taught me that tech, when used in the right way, can make us closer with our loved ones.”

—Natalia Secin, industry value advisor, Mexico City, MX

(Thrive Global)

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