By Joe Grist
Web Content Contributor
Finals are coming up quick! Many of you have been busier than ever, and as the end of the semester draws near, that schedule is only getting tighter. While being productive is great, it’s important to remember to take a break when you can so that your brain has time to relax, rejuvenate, decompress, and analyze everything you’ve learned and experienced throughout the day.
Considering that technology is used almost constantly, both in times of productivity and relaxation, it’s important to know how to mitigate the negative effects it can have on our mental and physical health while also taking advantage of the ways it can enrich our lives as well.
Video games have a bad reputation when it comes to productivity. Yet, when used responsibly, they’re known to do a lot of good. In fact, video games have been shown to sharpen motor skills, eye coordination, brain development, and even curb mental decline in older individuals. Film and video games, in a simpler approach, are also just great ways to decompress and take a break from your responsibilities (within a rational time-frame of course).
Taking a break from tech entirely is important as well. Last May, it was reported that citizens in the U.S. were spending an average of two hours and 37 minutes on their smartphones daily. That’s not even factoring the consistent use laptops, tablets, desktops, and other forms of tech throughout our personal time and at work. While it isn’t always possible to take a break every 15-30 minutes as recommended, it’s worth devoting at least 30 minutes to an hour of your time every day to take a complete break from any sort of device so that you can allow your eyes and mind to rest.
It’s no secret that sleep is the most important component of mental health and productivity. A good night rest can be the difference between having an immensely productive or catastrophic day. There can be many things that can impede your sleep, from intrusive thoughts, noise, and even a poor sleeping schedule. Luckily, there are just as many solutions. Sleepytime, or more accurately, sleepyti.me is a wonderful tool that many students use to plan around an inconsistent sleep schedule. It helps individuals figure out when and how long to sleep is best, depending on when you need to wake up or when you’re going to sleep. The trick is by going by REM cycles and helping users figure out when to set an alarm so that they’re waking up between these cycles instead of in the middle of them. Leading to much less groggy mornings. Sleepytime also has apps on both Apple’s app store and Android’s Google Play.
If your neighbors, roommates, or even just the appliances you live with make too much noise, white noise might be the answer! Youtube and many different apps provide multitudes of white noise. Whether you prefer rain, crickets, or even the sounds of a car on the highway, white noise acts as a constant and unchanging background noise that can mask other external auditory stimuli. This allows our brains to pay less attention to these random auditory disturbances, which is great because as it turns out, our hearing has actually evolved as an alarm system that wakes us when certain noises are determined as worthy of our brain’s attention.
If your mind is racing with endless thoughts. Try and consider putting your phone or any other electronic device down 30 minutes to an hour before bed. Reading is a great way take advantage of this time. It continues to stimulate the mind without constantly exposing yourself to the harsh light from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. The effects of electronic devices before bed is no secret. A break might do you a lot of good.
So keep these tips in mind and remember that it’s okay to take breaks and let loose every once and awhile. Technology is a powerful and enabling tool that helps us be productive, creative, and expand our knowledge, but as with everything else in this world moderation is key. Use it in healthy doses; your mind and body will thank you.
Featured image by Joe Grist.