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How to escape your screens

Written by Richard Docwra

How can we get less screen time and more life time?

Many of us spend most of our day with our eyes glued to screens - of our mobile phones, computers and televisions. On average, people in the UK spend 3.5 hours a day watching TV and this figure doesn't account for the other hours we spend watching screens. It can be difficult to drag ourselves away from these screens, but we need to spend some of our time engaging with the real world.

This leaflet gives 10 ways we can moderate our screen habit, and live more life in the process.

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How to escape your screens

1. Take a step back
Take a moment to count the various screens in your life and how long you spend in front of them each day.  Consider how much of this screen time has become automatic - like looking at your phone whenever you have a spare moment.  

2. Resolve to change
Think about how all this screen time is making you feel.  Stressed?  Rushed?  Lethargic?  And consider what you could be doing instead - and how this could improve your life.  Then, resolve to take action to change your screen habits.

3. Ration your mobile screen time
When you feel the impulse to surf the web on your phone in every spare moment, resist it.  Put your phone away and turn your mind to something else.  Perhaps even think about nothing - but give yourself some head space.

4. Take breaks from your computer
Health guidance suggests we should take frequent, short breaks from our computer screens at work - perhaps a few minutes every hour.  Get up from your chair and do something else for a few minutes.

5. Take a lunch break
Lunch breaks have become rare in our relentlessly busy working lives, but they represent a rare chance to escape from your screen and enter the real world.  Go outside, go for a walk, read a book - but take the full hour and get away from your computer.

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6. Ration your TV time
Many parents only allow their kids to watch an hour or less of TV a day - so why not try following this rule yourself?

7. Find better things to do than watch TV
Use the time you would have spent watching TV to do other things – read, speak to friends, exercise – whatever you like.  Remember all the things you can do instead of watching TV and recognise how much more energetic you feel and how much better your life feels when you do them.

8. Unplug your TV
If you want to go all the way, try unplugging your TV and turning it to face the wall for a couple of weeks.

9. Look around you
Instead looking at the screen in front of you, look at your surroundings for a few moments.  Take more interest in the world around you.

10. Re-learn how to do nothing
The availability of screens in our lives feeds our desire for constant stimulation - so try to teach yourself how to live without this stimulation and enjoy moments of peace and silence again.

© Life Squared 2013

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