Four Ways to Social Distance Without Screens


Four Ways to Social Distance Without Screens

Getty/Mikko Lemola

When we are on screens so much, it is important to find ways to relax and recharge without them. Here are some simple ideas.

Even as pandemic restrictions are gradually being lifted in some areas, most of us are staying closer to home and many of us are working from home. We are spending a lot more time sitting in front of our computers staring at screens—and there was already a lot of screen time to begin with.

Excess screen time is notoriously unhealthy for children whose brains are developing—but it’s bad for adults as well. The blue light coming from screens can interrupt our sleep rhythms, and some studies have shown that more than six hours of screen time a day is correlated with depression in adults.

We don’t really know yet how mindlessly binging TV might be different from engaging in multiple Zoom meetings. But I do know that as I rely on TV to entertain me while I can’t go out to a bar or restaurant, or see my friends in person, I start to get a headache; my sleep quality is diminished; and I just don’t feel that great.

Thankfully, there are a few things we can do. Here are a 5 ways ways to stay engaged and entertained in isolation without relying solely on our screens:

Set working hours. It can be difficult to clarify when work time begins and ends when there’s no office to go to, so make a rough 9-to-5 schedule for yourself. If you run out of things to do during those hours, work ahead on projects coming up. If you haven’t quite finished everything, as long as it’s not urgent, clock out at 5. This was a trick I learned while getting my master’s degree—when deadlines are constant and there’s never really a sense of ever being “done.”

Do a jigsaw puzzle. This has been a lifesaver for me. I have a late evening class on Zoom, and taking even 15 minutes to work on the puzzle after class and before bed helps to calm the buzz in my mind and help me sleep much better. It’s also fun to do with someone else because you can talk while you puzzle or simply enjoy the silence or some music.

Read physical books. I’m not sure if a Kindle or Kobo counts as a screen, but I, for one, prefer turning pages I can feel and smell. Of course, we don’t have access to libraries right now, but if you have a little extra cash, support your local independent bookstore (and the authors), and purchase a book for delivery. Why not buy a book by one of S&H’s fantastic contributors, including me, Rabbi Rami Shapiro, or Kevin Anderson?

Walk. Walk outside at least once every day if possible. Just stare at the trees, the clouds, or the water. One of the dangers of screen time is we don’t have the space to think for ourselves when we are constantly engaging with someone else’s thoughts and ideas. It’s a beautiful meditation that will give you a chance to process your thoughts and emotions, to come up with some ideas, or to simply be alone with your own thoughts. Read more about forest bathing.

Read more on 3 ways to reclaim your creative mind.


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