From the virtual pub quizzes and escape rooms with friends to weekly Zoom calls with parents and grandparents, the digital world has become a much needed crutch for most of us this year. It’s made working from home seamless for a lot of businesses and ensured that we’ve kept in touch and connected with loved ones, albeit in a more detached manner. Social media has also been fundamental in raising awareness and maintaining momentum for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Yet, for all of the pluses that come with being connected 24/7, you might have also noted that you’ve felt more lethargic than usual. As our screen time has surged, our energy levels have dipped. And, for some this has resulted in digital fatigue, which takes its toll both mentally and physically.
“When we walk onto a packed train or go into a busy shopping centre we can sometimes feel an onslaught of energy and we’re pretty much experiencing this online now,” explains Giselle La Pompe-Moore, spiritual guide, meditation teacher and founder of Project Ajna. “There are a lot of voices, opinions and tensions playing out and as we spend so much time online it can often feel like there’s no escape. Especially if we still want to be able to see what our friends or up to and stay informed.”
While lockdown might be easing slowly, it’s unlikely that many of us will be dramatically reducing our screen time any time soon, so how can we ease the effects of digital fatigue?
Bring Back ‘BRB’
For those who grew up with MSN Messenger, ‘brb’ (be right back) will be a nostalgistic throwback. But Giselle strongly believes the reason it’s slipped out of usage should be a red flag to us all though. “We rarely go offline now, especially when the outside world feels even further away,” says Giselle. “It can be incredibly tiring being in digital spaces right now, especially if you’re a black person as there’s quite often emotional labour that’s required or re-traumatising videos of violence and racism.”
Reintroducing the term ‘brb’ is a way of creating boundaries, something that Giselle recommends we all do. “For some people, easing the effects might look like deleting apps altogether, while for others it might be choosing to spend a certain amount of time online or on certain social media platforms per day,” she says.
“When you decide what boundaries you need to set it’s always worthwhile having a replacement activity, this could be reading a book, learning a few words of a different language, going for a walk or another self-care practice,” says Giselle. While it can be helpful to schedule in social media and screen time breaks if you’re someone who regularly finds themselves mindlessly scrolling, these boundaries don’t have to be set in stone.
Prioritise Your Sleep
You might liberally spritz your face with Allies of Skin Molecular Saviour Probiotics Repair Mist or slather on Chantecaille Blue Light Protection Hyaluronic Serum to help counteract the effects of blue light (HEV light emitted from your phone and screens) on your skin, but it can play havoc with your sleep pattern too. And, when you’re feeling particularly lethargic, a good night’s sleep can be just the tonic.
“The average person doesn’t prioritise sleep as it is, but spending too much time in front of devices in the hours before bed can impact our sleep health,” says Annee de Mamiel, acupuncturist and founder of de Mamiel. “It can lead to a suppression of the sleep hormone melatonin, disrupt our circadian rhythms, reduce REM sleep and compromise our alertness the next morning.”
Cutting back on screen time for an hour or so before bed can make a huge difference. Author and journalist Bryony Gordon reads for at least one, if not two, hours before going to sleep to help her relax and switch off.
You might not be able to limit your screen time at 9pm every evening, but making a conscious effort to do so three or four times a week can help your body to switch off. Try setting the tone by misting your bedroom with Votary Pillow Spray or massaging de Mamiel Soothe Sleep Series onto your pulse points. Annee formulated the latter as part of the Sleep Series to help promote a healthier sleeping pattern.
Check In With Yourself
Digital fatigue can creep up on you unexpectedly. Both Annee and Giselle recommend regularly taking time out to check in with yourself. “See what feels good to you and what doesn’t when you’re engaging in digital spaces. If memes, baking videos and group chats make you smile then you should keep doing that,” says Giselle. “If you find yourself mindlessly scrolling and feeling unsettled or exhausted when you’ve done that, then it’s OK to step back and reduce the time there.”