Credit: Photo by Mohammad Shahhosseini on Unsplash

Being a journalist means for most of our week we are stuck behind screens editing, writing, emailing, scrolling, and the list goes on. And at the end of the day, how do we unwind? Many of us are guilty of simply heading back to another screen.

Too much screen time has negative impacts on our brains and bodies, says Dr Charlotte Armitage, a psychologist and psychotherapist specialising in the film and TV industry.

"We're spending 53 per cent less time outdoors than we did in the 50’s," she says, speaking on an episode of the podcast. Being unable to switch off can raise blood pressure and anxiety levels.

That does not mean screens are always bad. Films and video games in moderation, for example, can be a legitimate way to relax, as this activity releases dopamine (a neurotransmitter that boosts your mood, attention and feelings of pleasure).

The bigger concern is not taking regular screen breaks from addictive devices that ping with notifications and provide overstimulating content. Armitage warns against getting hooked on devices that condition the way we think and feel.

They can also damage our relationships with people in the real world, something known to be integral to safeguarding our mental health as journalists. Armitage provided five professional tips on managing a healthy relationship with your devices.

Make space for 'screen-free' time

Carve out times in the day when you put your devices down. Start small, like with the morning routine: get up and ready, eat breakfast and get out of the door before checking your phone.

You could instead limit screen time in the evenings, having the dinner table and the bedroom as screen-free zones will allow you to properly interact with your family or partner. Put your phones in another room if you need to.

This may feel uncomfortable or awkward to begin with, but it will improve your physical and mental health.

Make quality time for those around you

After a long day or week at work, it is important to value time with your immediate circle, like your parents, children or significant other. Put the phone down and be present.

As journalists, we must maintain a strong inner circle and support network to insulate us from work-induced stress. Screens present barriers to relationships.

Favour face-to-face interactions

Interact with people in the real world wherever possible. Play video games with your friends in person if you can. Meet up with people for a catch-up rather than calling them up. These are smart trades that can improve your mental health.

All things in moderation

Screens are necessary in life and they are enjoyable, but they also compete for our time.

Set boundaries or set aside specific windows for screen-time. This means you are not fully cutting yourself off, but you still have limits. This moderation will help you become more aware of the impact devices are having on you.

Be firm with boundaries

We have all answered an email on our days off. We have all eaten our lunch at our desk before. But you must make a point of not letting work intrude into your personal life.

Set boundaries of when and where you will do your work and allow downtime for decompression and socialisation. This will keep your home environment a calm place.

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