The COVID-19 pandemic has limited in-person contact and left many working or taking classes online. From online meetings during the day to social media during breaks and TV at night, it’s easy to spend hours staring at a screen all day. Sitting in front of a computer screen all day can take its toll, so it’s important to take time to unplug.
Take a Real Lunch Break
One way you can refresh during the online workday is to take a real lunch break. It’s tempting to eat snacks while working or in class, but try setting aside a time to step away from the computer and eat a full meal. Limit your screen time while you’re eating to give your eyes and mind a rest.
According to a 2018 study by Tork, “North American workers feel more engaged and productive when they make time to take a lunch break every day.” Taking a lunch break is key to staying energized and refreshed through the workday.
Move Your Body
Scheduling time to be active is important too. With most interactions being shifted to online, this can mean spending the entire day sitting in front of a computer. Try going for a walk or getting some fresh air outside, even if it is a short break. Another idea instead of going outside is to workout. Moving your body after sitting all day will not only help your physical health, it’ll benefit your mental health as well.
It's OK to Stop Working
With work being moved online, that means you no longer leave a physical office or classroom. This seemingly 24/7 workday can make it harder to officially stop working. Try setting a specific time for you to close the computer every day. This will help prevent burnout and allow you to take time for yourself at the end of the day. It’s important to not push yourself too far just because work is more accessible. Emails can wait until the next morning.
No Screens in Bed
Leaving the last hour of the day screen-free is another habit that can help cope with a mostly-online life.
The National Sleep Foundation explains that using electronic devices before bed “can interfere with sleep by suppressing the production of melatonin, a natural hormone released in the evening to help you feel tired and ready for sleep.” Without melatonin, your body feels more alert when it should be winding down.
Looking at a screen before bed can lead to restless sleeping, so unplugging at night can set you up for a more energized morning. Instead of scrolling through your phone at night, try reading a book or listening to music.
Set a Limit
If you lose track of time or struggle with putting down your phone, setting time limits for apps can be a helpful option. In 2018, Apple introduced the Screen Time feature which tracks the amount of time you spend on apps. From there, you can set app limits that apply a restriction on how long you can use an app. You can set the time to whatever your goal is, and once that time is met, your phone will notify you that you reached your limit.