Stress Awareness Week: Why you need to step away from your screen

Being sensible with our screen time can make us less stressed and more productive. Let’s look at how it’s done.

BrightHR Team

At BrightHR we live and breathe technology. Not only has it helped us to create our industry-leading HR software, it helps us stay connected all over the world, and is the creator of the almighty GIF (which here at the BrightHR offices, we couldn’t get through the day without).

But we also know that we all need to be sensible with our screen time.

Because in 2019, there’s no ‘off switch’. Long gone are the days where you’d leave work at work. Now we’ve got our laptops and mobiles, and can check our emails, answer our phones, and stay ‘on call’ 24/7…

Some shocking screen time stats

  • The average person in the UK spends more than a day a week online.
  • We spend over two hours a day just on social media and messaging apps.
  • We tap, swipe and click on average 2,617 times a day.
  • We’re checking our smart phones approximately every 12 minutes.
  • In the last 10 minutes, 34% of us have checked our Facebook.
  • 28% of our day is spent checking our email—that’s our whole day, not working day.
  • The average email opening time is six seconds.

How this impacts our wellbeing

If we’re not careful, all this online action can send our stress levels through the roof—and not just because it eats into so much of our time.

Screen time can seriously affect your sleep. The type of ‘blue light’ from your computer or phone can slow down the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone), meaning we find it harder to switch off and get some shut eye at night.

It impacts your concentration levels, too. Studies show that it takes 25-35 minutes for your brain to refocus if you disrupt a task. So, if you’re in the middle of some work and pause to check your emails or send a text, it takes half an hour for your brain to ‘recalibrate’ back to the original task. That’s why we often feel super busy, but not that productive, and our stress levels start rising our workloads…

But that’s not all. One recent study by Harvard also showed that even if you have your phone faced down and on silent on your desk, your IQ drops by 10 points. Apparently, just knowing that it’s there keeps you on ‘high alert’ for people contacting you. Scary stuff.

How to kick-start your digital detox

Being sensible with our screen time doesn’t mean giving up technology, but making some small changes can make a big difference to our stress levels and overall wellbeing. Here’s five ways you can start reducing your screen time:

1. Use the night light function

The science bit: Our screens emit bright blue light so we can see them even at the sunniest times of day. But once it’s dark our brains get confused by that light, as it mimics the brightness of the sun, and this stops your brain producing the hormone that tells your body it’s ‘time to sleep’.

So set the ‘night light’ on your smart phone, tablet, laptop etc. Yes, you’re still watching a screen, but it’ll help you get a better night’s sleep.

2. Don’t take your phone with you to the bathroom

You might think we sound nuts, but Tanya Goodin, author of Time to Log Off and Stop Staring at Screens, says that this guidance gets the most laughs when she gives talks on digital detoxing, because everyone knows they do it

Leave your phone in one place at home or at work and go to the phone it if you want to check it, rather than carrying it with you at all times.

3. Set specific times for checking emails

Flitting between work, phone calls, emails and texts breaks up our concentration. So set specific times for these tasks, such as checking and replying to emails once every couple of hours. You’ll find yourself being much more focused and productive as a result.

4. Out of sight, out of mind

Take note of the Harvard study, people. Keeping your phone in front of you means you might be there in body, but your head is somewhere else. Whether you’re at your desk or having coffee with a friend, put that mobile phone out of sight if you’re not using it.

5. Use an alarm clock (yes, a real one)

Remember those old things? Nowadays most of us use our phone for our alarm clocks, which stop us from switching off properly when it’s time to sleep. And using your phone for your alarm means it’s there in the morning, too, so you can start scrolling as soon as you open your eyes…

Get an alarm clock so you can turn your phone off at bedtime. Or if this feels too drastic, put your phone on the other side of the bedroom, so you’re not tempted to use it in bed.

Are your staff feeling frazzled?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. You can learn more about how to support your staff in our wellbeing blogs.

And if you want to give your staff more hands-on help, you could also use an EAP (employee assistance programme) like Bright Wellbeing & Counselling. Speak to one of our friendly experts to find out more today. Call 0800 783 2806.