How to Cut Down on Screen Time for Heart Health

During the stay at home orders, many of us ramped up our screen time. With everything going on in the world, there’s a lot to be reading and watching. And, there wasn’t anywhere to go. There’s health, politics, the weather and more keeping us glued to our TVs, phones and tablets! Now, we’re seeing photos of friends and family back to doing everyday lives. But, older people and people with health conditions are still at home for their own safety. That means that many of us are still pinned to the news and screens.

Even people who are free to go back to their normal lives aren’t heading out to their usual haunts as they are closed or so changed as to be unappealing. Many people don’t want to go out for a meal at a restaurant if they and the server have to be in face masks. You lose that connection and fun element you usually associate with a night out! And that leads back to more time in front of screens. So, how do we break our relationship with our screens?

One question you might ask, before we even get started is, “Why should we?” Screen time can throw off your sleep patterns, which is essential for heart health. Moreover, screen time has been linked to high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. Cutting down on screen time can also help your mental health.

Many of us have become accustomed to using our phones and tablets in bed as a reader. Instead of doing that, go back to paper books. They are a thoughtful gift and, if you are concerned about the cost, they can be bought second hand or borrowed for free at the library! And, if you use your cell phone as an alarm clock, stop. You can buy a reliable one on Amazon for under $20! Get the electronics out of your bedroom. You’ll help your sleep by removing the blue light and help yourself wind down.

Remove screen time from meals. Instead, focus on your food. Looking at your meal and actually paying attention to what you eat has been shown to help you lose weight. You enjoy your meal more, remember what you ate and are less likely to snack later. If you live alone, you might enjoy having some music while you eat. But, turn off the news and just enjoy your favorite songs, you can enjoy your meal without the stress of watching everything going on it the world.    

Set a window of time for social media and stick to it. Instead of checking in on social media (or news) throughout the day, pick a time — or even a couple of times — that you will check social media. Then close the app. The information will still be there later. You can check in again without being up to the minute. And that way, you can have some time just for yourself to think about your own thoughts. If you have a hard time doing that, there are actually apps you can download that lock your device during certain times of the day. They make it so that you have to put in extra codes to unlock your phone to use certain apps, forcing you to reconsider whether you want to look at Facebook. One person on our team used them to break herself of the habit!

Finally, get outside. We spoke all spring and summer about gardening. Now it’s harvest time on any veggies you planted. It’s also time to cover certain plants and mulch! You can get a jump on next year and make sure all the hard work you did this year doesn’t go to waste! There is plenty to do in your garden to prepare for winter. It’s also a great time to walk. Things are finally starting to cool off. You can enjoy the fall weather and get away from your phone. Your heart will thank you!
September 10, 2020

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