Is it just ‘Screen Fatigue’?
There was a time, not so long ago, where I couldn’t tell you what ‘Screen Fatigue’ was, but if I was asked it might have looked like this:
Working over 60 hours a week, I would wake up, phone screen. Get on the train at 6:30 to commute to my place of work, logging my laptop on, screen. Check in on social media, screen. Check in on work colleagues, screen. Do my days work, screen. Get back on the train, screen. Get home, screen. Set my alarm, screen. Wake up and repeat.
To talk of Zoom remarked only of another training roll out via webinar or a colleague that was being adventurous with the tech budget.
The term ‘screen fatigue’ was not yet in mine, or the collective consciousness as a whole. It seems to me that this is a growing phenomena related to the Covid-19 crisis.
What is ‘Screen Fatigue’?
If you google the term, the chances are you might find this referred to as ‘Zoom Fatigue’. The US company, whose Cultural framework states they ‘deliver happiness’ have transformed the way we view the world during this prolonged period of social distancing.
And perhaps yes, our connection to Zoom really has brought us happiness and connection in a time of physical distancing.
All of our days’ normal routines, overnight, started to transform to video communication platforms.
- Working from Home (WFH)
- PE with Joe Wicks
- Pub quiz with your friends
- Catch up with your family
- Your favourite workout class
- Your Yoga studio
- A ‘quick’ team meeting
- Social Networking
For many of us this method of outreach provided us with that link to normality as we each grappled with life under lockdown. With our social freedoms suspended suddenly we were ‘on screen’.
What’s going on…
When we are on screen, something unique is going on. Our focus on the conversation intensifies. We are working harder to pick up the information with the nuances of face to face communication missing. We are lacking the ability to read the body language around the room, trusting our peripheral vision and checking in with others to ensure we are all on the same page. The freedom and creativity of conversation is stilted by the politeness of one person speaking on screen.
Our brain is trying to process the conversation whilst then picking up on other sensory stimuli – our colleagues’ home backgrounds, plants, books on shelves. All the while feeling like you yourself are being looked at.
Your brain is working 100 miles an hour and with no downtime in sight because this is your day – work, yoga, friends, family. The stimulation continues.
Does it go deeper?
During lockdown, many have commented on the inability to sleep and disruption to their sleeping cycles. Some will say that the slower pace of life means they have completed less during the day and therefore are less tired, could it be actually a huge increase in screen time and blue light exposure.
Apple will kindly tell you your weekly screen time statistics and reports show that average screen time on iphones alone is up by 33% with some reporting in excess of 8 hours a day on their phone alone.
Increased screen time, plus the challenges of WFH can start to trigger maladies including eye strain, neck strain and challenges to our mental resilience such as anxiety and depression.
Humans have three basic needs – Safety, Satisfaction and Connection. When these become compromised, we move into ‘Reactive Mode’ rather than ‘Response Mode’. This is akin to Fight or Flight. This physiological response keeps us running at a stress level that over a period of time becomes damaging to our wellbeing.
And these needs are being compromised. Many of us are deeply worried by the Covid crisis and our ability to stay safe. We have lost the sense of satisfaction in our lives, lacking purpose if we have been furloughed, unable to spend time with friends and family, no longer having anything to look forward to. And connection…
So what you can do?
There will be many reasons why we still have to be on screen, and it still represents to us a place where we cannot be physically connected yet. How can you regulate your screen time while still taking time to look after your wellbeing?
Finding mindfulness away from the screen
This might be as simple as folding the laundry, getting out in the garden or walking and focussing your attention only on the task at hand. Easier said than done, but bringing mindfulness to everyday tasks is proven to reduce your stress levels and clear the mind.
Personally I use an app called Insight Timer. This allows me to listen to guided meditations, yoga nidras and a host of other tools to bring mindfulness in without being on screen.
Restrict your screen time
Use the functionality on your device to set screen time limits. Be conscious when you are mindlessly scrolling and ask yourself, what value does this bring me. Another media story and the feed of comments is unlikely to fill up your cup.
Exploring YOUR yoga practice
LANO has been running Live classes for around 16 weeks and has a full set of library classes for you. This is in addition to the fullest array of workouts that you can find on almost all social platforms.
Next time you join a class why not try turning off your camera so you cannot see yourself. Take away that element. Maybe try just listening to the teacher instead of feeling like you need to look at the screen. Take this opportunity to explore and trust your own practice. Be brave, maybe just roll out your mat and move. See how it feels to be your own teacher.
Working and socialising
We might now see a decrease in the weekly pub quiz, a move back into physical work spaces. But if you still need to be on screen, hide yourself from view to avoid looking straight into the camera. Ask your boss if you can take a break from the camera and turn it off, or ask if you can catch up on the phone rather than zoom.
And as lockdown restrictions ease, you can start to see your friends and family face to face.
The end of screen time
In the search for ‘new normal’, it is clear that many benefits have come from being able to find this level of connection. Personally I have been able to practice in ways that were not possible before. Many businesses will adapt to a greater demand of online options, including ours.
The reason why I never felt that I had screen fatigue pre covid was not because it didn’t exist. It was because my day was punctuated by conversations with friends, drawing collective energies from colleagues, having dinner with family, a change of surroundings, a connected, stimulated, purposeful existence.
And we will get back there, in time. But for now, lets learn to better live with screens.