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How to balance your offline life and your digital one

As cell phones, computers, streaming, and other devices have become a part of our everyday lives many researchers are concerned about their potential impact on our lives. “In many ways, we have become more efficient, better connected and more productive thanks to technology,” says Gary Small, MD, professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences and the Parlow-Solomon Professor on Aging. “But there is a cost to these innovations that impacts multiple body parts, including the brain.

People (including myself) have become so immersed while using these devices that very often they will not look up when having an actual conversation. This can have a significant effect on their ability to notice nonverbal cues and can interfere with their mental capacity for face-to-face communication. Brain imaging studies have shown that if you spend Hours of time engaged in a specific mental task, the neural circuits that control that experience will strengthen.

The other side of that is you’re not spending time with other kinds of tasks, and the neural circuits for those tasks will weaken. Studies have demonstrated that increased time online or on a mobile device can diminish a person’s ability to recognize and interpret other people’s emotional expressions. How do we determine the right/ and wrong way to balance your offline life and your digital one? Are their tricks to the “trade?” who makes the determining factor on whether you are or are not balancing?

One thing I’ve learned is that you should develop a schedule. In streaming for example, developing a schedule ( IE streaming Tuesdays Thursdays from 4-5pm) Can help you plan family events or time with loved ones outside of the role of that need or want to stream. It creates a healthy balance so your body can adjust to the time and sort of automatically go into that role. This can also be true if you were to stream every day. This isn’t about streaming necessarily, we're talking about balancing everything in your online life with that of your offline life.

Some other steps you can take to control the balance between online and offline activities are all about making sure you believe your offline world is just as important by doing things such as take on an extracurricular activity, or a community event if your older. Disconnect on the weekends, or at least 1-2 days a week. Utilize the timer on your phone to create a time limit for how long you want to spend surfing or streaming talking etc. (this one can be daunting and hard to do sometimes but it really does work well) .

Excessive screen time can lead to tiredness and irritability. That’s why wellbeing and mindfulness are also very important. Wellbeing and mindfulness apps are a great way to feel calm, switch off, and get some good advice for a balanced life. According to the American journal of Medicine Yoga is a fantastic way to harmonize the body and the mind as well.

Setting and abiding to time limits on the screen can be challenging for students and adults alike. Using various tools to hold the user accountable can help develop good habits for screen time management and find the balance between time spent online and offline.

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