Take Care of Your Mental Health: Declutter and recharge

‘Tear down this Wall’

President Ronald Reagan

This is perhaps the best-known quote of the entire Cold War, and this line was from a speech delivered by United States President Ronald Reagan in West Berlin on June 12, 1987. The year 1989 witnessed the wall’s dismantling paving the way for German reunification. 

World history has remarkable stories about the famous walls and heroic actions by invaders, emperors, and even ordinary people bring those down. Whether it was the Great Wall of China or The Berlin Wall of Germany, they eventually went through the same fate. 

Times have changed, and we are now in the era of new walls. If you guessed we are referring to the wall, which former President Donald Trump initiated, you are wrong! We refer to the divide and disconnect the digital world has created between human beings and its ecosystem, impacting the bonding that the family members share within the wall of their homes.

If you remember the campaign Ogilvy China did back in 2015 for the Center For Psychological Research,  this was precisely highlighted. And what an apt tagline they came up with  –  The more you connect, the less you connect. Its message was powerful and relevant, and it resonated with one and all. The series of pictures used in the campaign reflected the sad and depressing side of the relationship. It exposed the growing disconnect between family members because of the mobile addiction – between parents and children, wife and husband, and so on 

ogilvy china mental health campaign

We have been talking about digital detox and decluttering our minds, but the reality is much away from it. How often you hear – If I start watching reels once, nothing could stop me! How many of you feel that urge to go back repeatedly to the content you posted to check the number of likes and comments. How often do you feel disturbed when you don’t see much appreciation of your videos and pictures?  

And unfortunately, this wall is only getting stronger with more advanced technologies like Virtual Reality (VR). As it facilitates a more immersive experience, it is the gateway for another level of addiction for both adults and children. 

Some of the figures released by a survey by ResueTime in late 2021 has been terrifying:

  • A study of 11k RescueTime users found that people spend around 3 hours and 15 minutes a day on phones.
  • On average, people check their phones 262 times per day—that’s once every 5.5 minutes!
  • 80% say they check their phones within the first 10 minutes of waking up.
  • Americans spend an average of 50 minutes on their phones before bed.
  • 40% use or look at their phone while driving.
excessive screen time

Excessive screen time has severe implications for physical and mental health. A range of adverse mental health outcomes such as psychological problems, low emotional stability, and a greater risk for depression or anxiety are associated with this addiction. 

While most of us are conscious about it and wish to reduce screen time substantially, do we have a strategy? Do you have the right tools to help you? How many of you started the process but could not stick to it? Habits are often challenging to control; it takes longer and much effort to overcome. Digital detoxing is essential. Decluttering is more so. So why not start it today? 

Set up realistic goals

Do not set a target that is impossible to achieve right away. Take those baby steps and scale it up with time. If your screen time is currently 3.5 hours, try to reduce by 30 minutes in the first week, another 30 the following. Be mindful of your usage and keep a tab on your consumption. You might stay motivated for the first few weeks, and there is a probability you will come back to your old habits. 

Set a time to check your social media

Yes, it is possible. Keep it limited to thrice – 11 am, 4 pm, and finally 8.30 pm. Stop mindlessly scrolling through the timelines for unlimited time. 

Keep the phone away while at home

It is almost impossible to put the phone away from you when in the office or working from home. After all, you do not want to miss important calls from your manager or colleagues. What you can do instead, as a practice, is keep the phone in a separate room after office hours. This will help you significantly cut your screen time. 

And finally YOU

Without your firm conviction, it would not be possible. Think of all the benefits you would get from continuously saving the productive time you wasted by gluing the screen. You can use the time to read a book. Or may beat your stress by turning to yoga, and still better, you can get out of home and stroll a bit around your neighborhood. Who knows, you might end up making new friends. And these real-life friendships could be way more exciting and engaging than the virtual world. If nothing of these works for you, think about the environment. How much power you can save by reducing the screen time. After all, we are conscious citizens always trying to reduce carbon emissions. Aren’t we? 

Don’t forget to celebrate your small successes

Motivation is key, and sharing your achievements with loved ones is heavenly. Well, of course! They are. Keep the people around you informed of your goals and your performance. Who knows, others might get inspired and join you, and it could be a collaborative conscious effort.

Download the Apps 

Screen Time

Apple’s built-in screen time-limitation app is an excellent method to keep track of your screen time without having to download any additional apps. You can find it on iOS (and iPadOS) by navigating to Settings > Screen Time. You may schedule Downtime, and choose which apps you want to allow at all times from here.

Freedom

Freedom is the most widely used app for limiting screen time, with millions of users. This programme allows you to block specific apps and websites that may distract you during the day, such as Facebook and Instagram. You may also use schedules to lock them and unlock them once your working hours are over.

ZenScreen 

ZenScreen is all about finding a healthy balance between screen time and other activities. They want to help you better your ‘digital diet’ by keeping the use of all apps in check, as the ZenScreen app description on the Appstore puts it. You can use this app to set time limits of various limits and set your specific limited time for viewing apps like Instagram to focus the rest of your time on other work. The app also has a ‘digital timeout’ which works similar to the Do Not Disturb mode on Android by blocking notifications.

Social Fever 

It shows how much time people spend on social networking apps daily. You may set timers on apps to notify you when you’ve been using them for a specific amount of time. The program is very user-friendly and has a simple UI.

To conclude, we know we can’t afford to ignore social media anymore. Instead, we can be mindful of its use and know when to detach at the right time, hence managing a good balance. To summarize, here are some final tips and tricks to overcoming FOMO (fear of missing out) and using social media without causing symptoms of depression:

  • Limiting time on social media per day (i.e., 30 minutes per day if it not work-related)
  • Create a morning routine that does not include you going straight to social media
  • Follow users who motivate you, make you smile, or add value to your daily life and goals. 
  • Feel free to use that “mute” button if you don’t want to unfollow them
  • When posting a picture, don’t focus on likes. Post and Go. 
  • Stay away from pages that trigger you
  • Stay off of negative news outlets
  • Remember, there is only one you. No need to compare yourself.

And now, coming back to those historical walls, if Mongols could breach the Great Wall of China, and common people could dismantle the Berlin Wall, why can’t we break the digital barrier? 

Sevashree Mohapatra
A strategic Corporate Communication leader and technology enthusiast, I have more than 20 years of experience in content, corporate communication, and Strategy. Having worked in major media houses and MNCs like Hindustan Times, Ogilvy, ArcelorMittal, and Suez, I have helped brands to create value for their customers.