THE BLOG
02/24/2016 03:15 pm ET Updated Feb 24, 2017

How to Take a Tech Break

Dougal Waters via Getty Images

How often do you check your phone, scroll through your email, or turn on the TV when you have a free moment? According to one study, the average American adult spends a staggering 11 hours a day using electronic media.

When we spend all our free time focused on (or distracted by) technology, we have much less time for the habits and activities that make us feel good and build resilience. For example, when we binge-watch ten episodes of our favorite show, we likely aren't building a healthy body, spending time with friends, or cultivating hobbies that tap into our own creativity.

It's not realistic to swear off binge-watching for good, nor should you have to do a full technology detox. The key is to shift from constantly reaching for the remote to consciously choosing to spend (some) time in front of a screen.

Here are three ways to get started.

1. Make it an event

TV time can be transformed from a passive habit to a resilience-boosting activity by making it a social event. For example, the Oscars are on this Sunday, so why not make it special? Plan a celebrity-themed menu and invite a friend or two to watch with you. This is a great way to bolster your social connections--a major element of resilience.


2. Take a physical intermission

Sitting for hours is, to put it bluntly, very bad for you. So is staring at a screen all day long. Use your next break in between shows or games to get up and get moving, even if you only have a few moments. Wall push-ups, gentle stretches, and sit-ups are low-tech choices. Even better: take a quick walk outside to move your whole body, get your heart rate up, and get a deep breath of fresh air.

3. Examine your motives
Consuming media for hours is surely fun but it may not be healthy if you regularly do it to distract yourself from real problems. Perhaps you're facing a complicated situation at work or a rough patch in your relationship. It can certainly be helpful to take a break from overwhelming emotions, but it won't help you uncover the root causes of your stress. Allow yourself the break, but also challenge yourself to face the issue head-on. What's one step you can take today that will get you closer to a solution?