It’s been almost a year since Drew University students were asked to leave campus and finish the semester from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which, at the time, was just getting started. Things are starting to look up, but we aren’t out of the woods yet. For many students, the Spring 2021 semester is looking a bit like Frankenstein – made up of a mismatch of virtual and/or in-person classes and events.
Unsurprisingly, having to balance social distancing, another semester of online class and other stressors isn’t easy to deal with. Luckily, there are some steps to take to help manage everything going on this semester. From now until May, SLA offers advice on how to navigate some of our biggest issues as students in the era of COVID-19.
First up: Screen time.
Regardless of if your current place of residence is on-campus or off-, there is a good chance that one or more of your classes is virtual or at least a hybrid that has online and in-person meetings. It is also probable that much of your relaxation and free-time is spent on a device as well, whether you are browsing social media, online shopping, watching Netflix or something else.
That screen time adds up fast and can lead to tired eyes, insomnia and/or a complete aversion to wanting to be on a device at all after a while.
While online class is virtually unavoidable, here are some tips to help beat the negative impacts of screen time in your life.
1. Blue-light blocking glasses. A lot of your friends with glasses probably know about these already, but if you’re unfamiliar with the technology it is basically a special type of lens that can help filter out the blue light emitted by most electronic devices. This can help your eyes feel less tired and potentially help you sleep better at night if you are using your device before bed. The great thing is that you can get a pair of these blockers even if you don’t need vision correction — try an online retailer like Warby Parker or Amazon.
2. Night shift mode. If you’re looking for something that is more of a quick and easy fix, try seeing if your device has a night shift mode. In most situations, this mode can be used at any time of day — not just night — and changes the tones of your screen to be warmer so that less blue light is emitted. Similar to the blue-light blockers, this mode can help you sleep better at night because it helps mitigate the effects of blue-light which can keep you awake.
3. Make a phone call. Instead of texting and spending extra time staring at your screen to communicate, try out making a phone call. It may sound a little old school, but it will give your eyes a break and is a great opportunity to hear the voice of someone you might be missing if you haven’t been able to see them in person. Even if it is a person you see regularly and text often, try out that phone call just to switch it up – you might find yourselves chatting for hours!
4. No phones at the dinner table, and take your time eating. For many of us, sitting down for a meal is one of the few times we aren’t in front of a screen these days, so those minutes are precious. Instead of pulling out your phone mid-meal or scarfing down food as fast as you can, try taking this mealtime as a pause from technology and an opportunity to enjoy being by yourself or with company. Be in the moment and use it as a reset period before you go back to your device for class, homework or gaming with the boys.
5. Print or write a workout, play some music and get active. By printing or writing the workout, you’ll have to look at paper instead of the screen to see what comes next in your workout. You can use your phone for music, but choose your playlist and just let it play. If you need a timer, your phone is good for that too, but don’t look at it when you don’t have to. Focusing on getting your body moving will be a good break from the screen and will also help release endorphins which have the potential to leave you in a much better mood post-workout.
These are just a few ideas to get you started on beating the negative effects of too much screen-time. Get creative, try things that interest you and take time away from the screen when possible. Spring 2021 may not be the semester we wanted, but hopefully this helps you cope a little better with being online day-in and day-out.