Taking short tech breaks can supercharge your mind and help you make the most of the precious hours in a day. You’ll be happier and healthier for it (and your phone will still be there – we promise)
We love apps, smartphones and computers. They help us track our sweat sessions, get us from point A to point B and make working from home possible. But we may be too reliant on them. The average person spends just about 11 hours every day with their face glued to a screen. That level of plugging in can be physically taxing – staring down at a screen is torture on your neck. But the biggest impact could be on your mental well-being. Social media overuse is linked to loneliness, in part because when you’re swiping and scrolling, you’re not connecting with others or the world around you. That’s the truth.
The easier-said-than done solution isn’t to ditch your gadgets (come on, we’re not Neanderthals!), but to use them, well, smarter. Facebook and Instagram have lent a hand by launching tools to help users dial back. More recent operating systems from both Apple and Google let you set time limits on apps and track how many minutes (um, hours?) you spend swiping memes.
Your new gig: spend your screen-free time reconnecting with friends, colleagues and yourself. It may feel awkward at first, which is why we’ve created this primer on how to complete some of life’s basics sans tech (you know, the way people used to!).
Have a gadget-free workout
Keeping tabs on your pace or heart rate via tech can boost performance, but the strategies below will help you home in on how you’re moving, what muscles you’re using, and how you feel – which can ensure proper form and reduce injury risk, says biokineticist Dr Joel Martin.
TAKE THE TALK TEST
It’s the easiest way to gauge how hard you’re working. With easy effort, you should be able to speak in full sentences; when you ratchet it up to medium, talking will be difficult. During hard intervals you should only be able to say a word or two (or a few “erghs”), says Janet Hamilton, founder of Running Strong, a US-based coaching service for runners of all abilities.
GET WEANED OFF THE WATCH
Runners: a few times a week, before an easy run, start your watch (but don’t look at it!). Set out with the goal of hitting a certain pace, but check your times only after you finish. Note when you were a little fast or slow, then think back to how those parts of your run felt. After a few workouts, you’ll have a good feel for pacing.
GRAB AN EYEFUL
Instead of stalking other cyclists on Strava every time you ride, watch your breath in the cold air or study the way light reflects off buildings. Both can bring about awe, a happiness-inducing feeling you experience when you’re totally engrossed in a moment, says psychologist and social behaviourist assistant professor Paul Piff, who studies the emotion.
Untether at the office
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