By Natasha Ramirez
There’s hardly a need to say it: 2020 was a rough and a strange year. Whether you were stuck to your screen 24/7 because of the switch to working from home, nightly Netflix binges, or doomscrolling through Twitter all day, your technology became even more important than ever—and perhaps at the cost of your mental health. Even though screens have become intertwined with our daily lives in ways we can’t separate, that doesn’t mean they have to rule over us. Instead of banishing screens or making your phone the enemy, use technology to your advantage this year.
The start of a new year is the perfect time to take control of your tech habits and better balance your life. Here are four tech tips you can easily incorporate into your daily habits to feel more mental peace and prevent technology from taking over your mind and giving you anxiety.
Keep Your Files Backed Up And Secure
Whether your phone or laptop is full of sensitive business information or cat GIFs, losing your devices can wreak havoc on your day-to-day life. If your tech gets stolen, broken, or misplaced, it can often seem like the end of the world—especially if you don’t have any of your files saved somewhere other than its internal storage. One drop or spill and all of those photos, contacts, and files are gone. Start the year with less worry by backing up your devices so that information is always safe and accessible should anything happen to your physical device.
A lot of your apps automatically save information to the cloud—but sometimes people think their files are being backed up when they’re actually not. The cloud is an easy and cheap way to backup your personal files and give you peace of mind.
If you’re an entrepreneur, freelancer, small business owner, or creative professional, you need a solid data storage strategy in place for all of your files. Tech experts suggest using the 3-2-1 data strategy: three types of backups in two different formats, and then one of those backups should be stored in a different location. Most professionals use both a NAS and the cloud to backup files to backup their files. This is a good practice for anyone, but is critical for those who have sensitive files or rely on their devices for daily work.
Try a Social Media Fast
Social media is a great way to stay in touch with family and friends—but too much and it can start to affect your mental health. Too much screen time can even turn into a clinical addiction over time. For those who have fallen into a cycle of waking up in the morning and immediately doomscrolling through Twitter and seeing it hurt your mental health, it might be time to try a weekly social media fast. One day a week (Saturdays or Sundays are the most common) make a goal to stay off of social media.
Outdoor advocate Katie Boué is also an advocate for weekly social media fasts. In an article for Outside Magazine, she said, “The rules for No Social Sundays are simple: on Sundays, stay off social media. No posting, no scrolling. No Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. If I break the rules, which I often do, I immediately restart—no shame. No matter how imperfect any No Social Sunday’s practice is, I don’t feel bad about it. These weekly abstinences aren’t graded, scored, or available for anyone else’s judgment.”
Instead of looking at your phone, try reading a book, going on a hike, or spending time with your family and friends. Not only will steering clear of screens keep your eyes from being too strained, it gives you time to be active and cultivate your hobbies. You’ll be surprised how fast you’ll start to see positive changes in your physical, emotional, and mental health.
Download a Therapy Chat Bot
Therapy is nothing to be ashamed of—everyone needs an emotional outlet in their lives. If your schedule makes it difficult to find time for an in-person therapy session, if you are still a little uncomfortable about being around new people, or if you don’t have access to or can afford traditional therapy, there are apps out there that can give you some mental and emotional support.
Even though you’re not talking to a real person, the therapy chat bots can still help guide you through your emotions and well as provide you with a healthy outlet instead of keeping everything bottled in. They can also provide helpful mental health resources and be a safe space for you to vent anytime of the day.
“Communication has obviously evolved over time as technology changes. There’s a lot of very good data that digitally enabled communication between providers and patients can absolutely be as effective as other means,” says Dr. Seth Feuerstein, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale University for a recent Women’s Day article.
Buy a Fitness Tracking Watch
If you’re interested in improving both your mental health and physical health in 2021, using a fitness tracker is a simple thing to incorporate into your daily routine. Apple watches and other fitness trackers on the market can easily track your daily activities and calories and give you a better understanding of your overall health. From tracking your heart rate to sleep quality and everything in between, you can see how well you’re meeting your health goals, and where you may need to improve.
And since mental health and physical health work impact each other, tracking your physical health can also help you understand how your physical activity and eating habits impact your mood. Just 30 minutes of physical activity can improve your mood, help you sleep better, and can lower anxiety and depression. Using tech like a fitness tracker this year is a great way to prioritize both your mental and physical health this year.