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If you're like me, you might be starting to feel like you have never spent this much time behind a screen before. Between working from home and the other tasks I have to complete on my laptop throughout the week, I spend more time staring at a screen than I do anything else. And that doesn't even include the time I spend scrolling through social media, binge-watching Netflix or watching TV over the weekends.
Though I'll admit that I have always been a screen queen, it is all finally starting to get to me. To help reduce the strain on both my eyes and my overall health, I've been trying out a few ways to cut back on screen time and keep myself busy throughout the day.
Keeping a journal
Keeping a daily journal has allowed me to declutter my mind and work toward creating a better outlook on the day to day. In fact, social psychologist Dr. James W. Pennebaker found that writing about your emotions can help reduce stress.
In order to reduce screen time in the morning, I pick up my pen and journal instead of unplugging my phone from the charger. Before I head to bed, I open my journal once more to let go of any last thoughts of the day. Writing down a few things that I am thankful for at the end of the day has been my go-to prompt ever since I found out that it can help me fall asleep easier.
Channeling my inner Betty Crocker
Much like many other people at this time, I have recently discovered that I have a passion for baking. While I haven't attempted to try out a sourdough recipe, making recipes that I actually enjoy has helped me keep my eyes off the screen.
If deciding what to make puts a lot of pressure on your shoulders, there are plenty of ways to get recipes and ingredients shipped right to your door. This Mix Box from Homemade Bakers delivers the ingredients and the "how-to" on a monthly basis, so you'll always have treats to bake and enjoy.
Investing in my skin care routine
Elongating my skin care regimen in the morning and at night allows me to dedicate some serious time to myself. In fact, the best way to encourage myself to do nothing at all is by simply wearing a face mask.
This face mask is the perfect excuse for allowing myself to sit and do absolutely nothing for 20 minutes while it dries, which is a break we all could use at this time. However, sitting and doing nothing can be easier said than done. So if I can only manage to sit still and relax for 10 minutes at a time, I will use the remaining time to wash a few dishes or tidy up a few things around my room.
Breaking a sweat
With all the baking and extra sweets around my house, finding time to exercise has been extremely important. Whether it involves going for a quick walk around the neighborhood or going for a bike ride, getting in at least 30 minutes of exercise is a daily goal that helps me stay away from my computer and my phone.
However, on days when the weather isn't as nice as I would like it to be, I resort to an at-home workout to keep myself moving.
These gliding disks and ankle bands have helped add a little extra burn to the core and leg exercises I try out. Even if you have to put on a YouTube video for some workout inspiration, odds are you'll be spending more time monitoring your form than staring at the screen.
Listening to audiobooks
While reading books on your phone or tablet may be a way to keep busy, it certainly might not help reduce your screen time. Audiobooks are an easy source of entertainment and a different take on "reading."
Whether you're eating breakfast, getting ready in the morning or going for a drive in the car, putting on an audiobook is an easy way to keep your mind engaged and your eyes off the screen. The audiobook for "Becoming" won Michelle Obama a Grammy this year and might be worth putting on your listening list.
Trying my version of aromatherapy
Lighting candles is the first sign that I am ready to relax, and usually encourages me to stay off my phone, especially as it gets closer to bedtime. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation encourages setting an "electronics curfew" at least two hours before bedtime to ensure a good night's rest.
While it sounds simple, an aromatically pleasant candle encourages me to relax, turn off my phone and reach for a book or my journal.
Alleviating the strain
If, like me, you can lack the self-control needed to stay away from your devices, the least you can do is invest in a pair of blue light glasses that can help reduce the strain on your eyes.
According to a study conducted by Harvard researchers, the blue light from our phones, especially when used closer to bedtime, can suppress melatonin secretion in the body. I recently picked up this stylish pair with over 2,000 reviews, and have felt the difference in my eyes since I started using them.
When nothing else works
Though I've found ways to cut back on my screen time and give my eyes the break they need and deserve, I'm extremely close to investing in another measure that would keep me away from my phone and other electronic devices all the time. Whether you need some quality time on family game night or simply want to enforce an extra measure of self-control, this "phone jail" might just be what you need to achieve it.
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- These glasses help reduce eye strain — and TODAY editors love them